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Crace to manage Lee County

LEESBURG,Ga. -- The Lee County Commission, minus District 1 representative Dennis Roland, approved Al Crace as interim county administrator during a brief called meeting Friday afternoon.

The Commission, without comment, also approved Crace's contract, which will pay him during his tenure at a rate equal to $100,000 per year.

"I expect to be there Monday morning, first thing," Crace said from his Roswell home Friday afternoon after learning that his appointment was official. "There are a lot of things about counties that are uniform, but I expect to spend the first couple of weeks finding out the specifics of Lee County.

"I plan on being a good listener."

Crace's contract calls for him to serve for an "indefinite" term that "is likely to be at least six months." The document also states that "this agreement shall automatically terminate upon the date that a new full-time Lee County administrator takes office and assumes his or her duties as county administrator."

Lee Commission Chairman Ed Duffy said after the meeting Crace was the best-qualified candidate to take over on an interim basis for former Administrator Alan Ours.

"In the Board's opinion, Mr. Crace was the most experienced and the best qualified," Duffy said. "He was very cooperative during this process, and he has a world of experience."

Crace, who most recently worked for four years as program manager and assistant city manager in Sandy Springs, earned a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech. He's worked as city manager in Alma, Waycross, Rome and Gainesville; as city administrator for the city of Athens and manager of the unified government of Athens-Clarke County.

Crace also worked briefly as president of the Al Crace & Associates Inc. development consulting firm.

"There are a few simple decisions in the county that I'll want to talk over with the folks there," he said. "In a transition period like this you want to take a little more time in doing so.

"I see my job as bringing professional practices to the table, while local government officials bring community values. Each issue involves a little of each."

Asked if he'd had an opportunity to form an opinion on the controversial library/conference center issue that is a hot-button item in the county, Crace said he's aware of it.

"I really haven't had time to study it fully," he said, "but it's certainly a challenge that the county is facing. There is a desire to get all these components in that project, but it's become a budgetary issue. I think it will eventually become a question of what's the next reasonable step."

In addition to his base salary with the county, Crace will receive a deferred compensation payment in the amount of 4 percent of his salary. He will be added to the county's health insurance plan on Oct. 1 and will receive $179 per week for temporary lodging.

"I'm going to look for a simple efficiency, somewhere I can stay during the week," he said. "My wife will remain at our home, and I'll go home over the weekend. I've got a couple of places in mind, but settling on a place is one of the things I'll get done next week."