Two finalists selected for County Manager

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

The Henry County Board of Commissioners voted Mar. 8 in a special called meeting to name two finalists for the county manager position.

One is very familiar locally: Cheri Hobson-Matthews, currently serving as assistant county manager and a 15-year county employee. She was a finalist for the top job in 2015 when it went to Lyndon Bonner, who was terminated in January by the board.

The other finalist is Patrick O'Connor, who has 30 years in government experience according to county officials. He was most recently the interim county manager for Fulton County, where he previously was the finance director for 18 years.

The resolution approving the finalists passed with a 4-2 vote. Commissioners Gary Barham and Johnny Wilson voted in opposition. There was no public discussion before or after the vote.

In other business, the board voted at its Mar. 7 regular meeting to name two new county facilities. The new park on Fairview Road, set to be unveiled officially Mar. 16 with a ribbon cutting, will be called Village Park at North Henry. The new senior and recreation center in Hampton, with construction nearly completed and the opening expected to be in late April, will be known as Bear Creek Senior Center and Recreation Center.

Pierre O. Clements was named to the Henry County Development Authority to fill an unexpired term ending Dec. 31, 2018. He was appointed by Commissioner Bruce Holmes, who in January tapped Mitzi Bickers for that slot but she was never sworn in and never participated in an authority meeting. As the Times reported in late January, Bickers’ name surfaced in numerous media reports regarding an ongoing investigation into Atlanta city government corruption. She is a longtime political operative who worked on Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s staff after working on his campaign for that office.

The board approved a resolution setting guidelines for film companies to use Henry County Airport. A set-up/breakdown day rate of $450 and a shooting/filming day rate of $1,500 were included in the statute. Each applicant is required to submit a certificate of insurance listing the airport as additionally insured, and all applicants are required to follow the county’s process for special event permits.

A budget amendment of $1,64,000 was approved for utility relocation and construction costs on the Anvil Block Road intersection improvement project. The money comes from another SPLOST project, East Atlanta/Thurman/Flat Rock roads. The construction bid approved by the board totals $4,366,850. This project was originally in the SPLOST III program.

Cost overruns on bridge and culvert repairs in District II required a budget amendment of $102,056. The Indian Creek bridge project included excess silt and cracks inside the box culvert that led to the increased costs. The funds are coming from the Towaliga River account, and staff recommended that the Towaliga Bridge not be painted - it would free up the necessary funds while not affect that project’s structural integrity.