Lee County Administrator Tony Massey, shown in this undated file photo, has resigned to take a job in Tennessee. Lee County commissioners plan to interview three candidates for an interim replacement next week. (Feb. 14, 2013)
Leesburg LEESBURG, Ga. — Lee County commissioners are moving quickly to find an interim county administrator following the announcement Thursday that Tony Massey will be leaving to take a job in Tennessee.
Massey confirmed Thursday that he has given his 30-day notice and will become city manager in Columbia, Tenn., his hometown. The town of approximately 35,000 residents is located about 45 miles south of Nashville.
Massey, who has been county administrator in Lee County for about two years, said Columbia's city government has about 400 employees.
"The city manager there retired recently and some friends and family contacted me about the opening and asked me to consider it," said Massey. "I have been happy here in Lee County and was not looking to leave.
"When the opportunity comes to go back to your hometown to be city manager where you were raised and went to high school, well that just does not happen often in my profession. It just felt right when I went up there to interview."
Massey, who was city manager in Frankfort, Ky., for seven years before coming to Lee County, said the move also allows him and his wife to be closer to a daughter who attends the University of Kentucky.
"I cannot say enough good things about Lee County and the Lee Board of Commissioners," Massey said. "This is a great community made up of great people, and I will miss them. ... Department heads here are second to none."
Massey's final day on duty in Lee County is March 15.
Rick Muggridge, chairman of the Lee County Commission, said Massey's announcement was not a surprise to commissioners, who discussed the matter during an executive session Tuesday evening.
"We plan to hire an interim county administrator and take our time to hire a permanent replacement," Muggridge said.
Muggridge said no timetable has been set but that it may take six months or more to find a replacement. Job postings have already been placed on the county's website, with the Association County Commissioners of Georgia and the Georgia Municipal Association.
Regarding the interim replacement, Muggridge said he has already talked with qualified potential interim managers, including Bill Sawyer, Jack Krakeel and Lynn Taylor.
Sawyer was county manager in Macon County and has experience in economic development work. He lives in Schley County and does interim work and special projects for governments.
Krakeel does consulting work on public safety issues nationwide and retired a few years ago as county administrator in Fayette County.
Lynn Taylor was county manager in Sumter County before her retirement. She also has worked in Athens-Clarke County.
Lee County commissioners are tentatively set to meet with Sawyer at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Taylor at 4 p.m. Wednesday and Krakeel at 3 p.m. Feb. 22.
"We're looking for an interim who will help us through the budget process, plus have the skills to possibly help with a special project while they are here," Muggridge said.
"We've been through this before and our experience (with an interim manager) was a great one. We almost welcome the process and look forward to what this opportunity brings us."
Muggridge said no one within the county government had applied so far, but that current employees who do would be given full consideration.