County manager search on hold

By Monroe Woark
Times Correspondent

The search for a new county manager has been intentionally slowed down by the Board of Commissioners and one of the two announced finalists for the position has withdrawn from consideration as a result.

"Due to the indefinite nature of the appointment it would be insincere on my part to continue," Lyndon L. Bonner wrote in a letter to the board dated Sept. 23.

Bonner noted in the letter that he had been contacted via phone by county attorney Patrick Jaugstetter and informed that the selection process had been slowed down or suspended.

When asked about that move, Chairman Tommy Smith did not give a specific reason for putting everything on hold but told the Times that it "was a board decision."

A few weeks ago the board released the names of two finalists for the position - Bonner and current interim county manager Cheri Matthews. State law requires that this be done at least 14 days before the final selection is made, and that time requirement has been met.

We basically put this process on hold for a little while," Smith stated by email Thursday in response to the Times' inquiry. "We told Mr. Bonner even though we slowed down the process, he was a viable candidate."

Smith said the board is considering several options and does not have a plan now but will have one soon. The board's next regular meeting is Tuesday, Oct. 6.

"If not before their next meeting, they will know something at the next meeting," he said.

Bonner was a finalist for the job a year and a half ago when Jim Walker was named to the position. Smith, who made no secret he was not pleased with Walker's selection, acknowledged that Bonner was his choice at that time.

These developments come amid controversy regarding raises given to a handful of county employees. Some citizens have alleged impropriety on the part of Matthews and human resources director Nedra Farrar Swift, both of whom are black, and this has provoked a backlash as many in the community have come to their defense.

One social media post last week said that Matthews "sought relief from the EEOC" in response to alleged harassment she received from the board. The Times filed an open records request and was informed that no official EEOC notice had been sent to the board on Matthews' behalf.