County seeking new manager

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

Henry County is once again searching for a county manager.

Lyndon Bonner’s employment was terminated Jan. 3 after a little more than a year by a vote of the Board of Commissioners at the end of its regular meeting. There was no discussion immediately preceding the action, which took place after an executive session.

This is the fourth time in less than five years a full-time county manager has left that position. Two other employees have serv-ed in interim capacities for almost a year of that time.

Butch Sanders resigned in February of 2012 and was immediately replaced by Fred Auletta, who stepped down from his position as District 2 commissioner to take the job. Auletta transitioned to county finance director in August of 2013, and planning/zoning services division director Michael Harris (now the city manager in Stockbridge) was interim county manager for several months.

Jim Walker was appointed county manager in March of 2014 by a 5-1 vote, with the lone dissenting vote coming from then-Chairman Tommy Smith. It was later noted that Bonner, then a finalist for the job, was Smith’s choice at that time.

Walker resigned in May of 2015 and Bonner was appointed in October of that year. Cheri Hob- son-Matthews was interim county manager between Walker and Bonner, and she was a finalist for the permanent job. Upon Bonner’s appointment, Matthews was named assistant county manager in a newly created position.

Matthews will assume the day-to-day county manager duties until Bonner’s successor is named, communications director Melissa Robinson said Thurs-day.

There was no mention at the meeting of Matthews’ status or whether she would again assume the interim county manager role, but the board approved a separate item detailing the job descriptions for county manager and assistant county manager.

County attorney Patrick Jaugstetter presented the proposed resolution terminating Bonner’s employment as well as his employment agreement with the county, which contained a provision allowing the commissioners to terminate him without cause at any time. The county is obligated to pay Bonner a sum equal to three months’ salary and benefits, according to the resolution.

This was the first meeting presided over by Chair June Wood, who took office at the beginning of the year. She said after the meeting that the board saw the need for new leadership in the county manager’s office as the county would be going in a different direction.

Apparently the move was no secret. Earlier in the same meeting Larry Morey, a citizen speaking during the public comment period, said Bonner had done a “decent” job and added: “And he ain’t going to be here much longer, and he’s only been here a few months.”

Don Henderson, who ran for chairman as a write-in candidate last year, posted Dec. 18 on his Facebook page that Bonner “will be replaced within the first two months [of 2017] or sooner.”