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Frankfort, Ky., city manager named Lee administrator

LEESBURG, Ga. -- The Lee County Commission announced Tuesday that Tony Massey has accepted an offer to serve as county administrator.

The agreement with Massey, who most recently worked as city manager in Frankfort, Ky., was announced at Tuesday's commission business meeting.

"First of all, I'm humbled," Massey said in a telephone interview after the meeting. "I can't say enough good things about that board of commissioners. Sometimes you have a sixth sense about a place that this could be home, and that's the feeling I got from visiting Lee County. The people down there are just good, quality people.

"In a (candidate search) like this, it's all about fit, for the candidates and for the leaders of the community. I felt like this was a good fit all around."

The new Lee administrator, 52, earned his bachelor's degree in political science and his master's in public administration from the University of Tennessee. He's since completed requirements for an associate's degree in risk management from the Insurance Institute of America and attended the Senior Executive Institute at the University of Virginia.

Massey reached an agreement with the city government of Frankfort to step down from his position with the city at the first of the year. He'd served as city manager there since 2004.

"It was apparent that the new group (of city commissioners) coming into office wanted to go in a different direction, so I'd agreed to step down from my position at the first of the year," Massey said in a previous interview with The Herald.

Commission Chairman Ed Duffy said in a prepared statement the board felt Massey was the right person to move the county forward.

"Lee County had three qualified candidates with a wealth of experience chosen as finalists in our search for a county administrator," Duffy read from the statement. "After long deliberations, the board of commissioners has chosen Tony Massey, and we look forward to continuing to move Lee County forward as a quality-of-life community."

Massey served as city manager of Bristol, Tenn., from 1996 to 2004; was assistant city manager/recorder in Kingsport, Tenn., from 1993-96; was a loss control consultant for the Tennessee Municipal League Risk Management Pool from 1989-93; was city manager of the small town of Savannah, Tenn., from 1985-89; and worked in economic development in Tullahoma and Columbia, Tenn., from 1983-1985.

The new Lee administrator told Phillip Robertson of The Mercer Group one of his proudest accomplishments in Frankfort had been balancing the city's 2009-10 budget that had started the fiscal year at a $3 million deficit. He also mentioned his efforts in business recruiting and economic development initiatives.

Duffy said Massey will begin work with the county Feb. 7.

"I've already started doing my homework," Massey said. "One of the the things I've learned in this business is that when you go into a new position like this, you have a lot to learn. I want to spend some time getting to know the commissioners better, getting to know their goals and objectives for the community. And I want to get to know staff, people in the community, community leaders.

"I think once I get a better understanding of where we're going in Lee County, I'll be ready to make positive recommendations to help the community keep moving forward."

Massey will fill the position that was held for four years by Alan Ours, who left Lee County in August to take an administrative position in Glynn County. Al Crace, a finalist for the positions awarded to Ours and Massey, served as Lee's interim administrator for the past five months.

"I want to thank everyone in this community for making the last five months a positive experience for me," Crace said at Tuesday's meeting. "I appreciate the commissioners being available to guide me, and I especially appreciate the work of the staff here. Most of the good ideas and recommendations originated with them, and I appreciate the work they do.

"Lee County has many good days ahead. I consider my time here a very valuable experience, and my goal now is to see that we have a smooth transition."

Crace's tenure with the county ends Friday.