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Thomson administrator choice to be made soon

The City of Thomson should select a new city administrator soon - possibly as early as today.

City leaders have narrowed a list of 28 applications to three final candidates, including two from McDuffie County:

- Don Powers, Forward McDuffie Executive Director

- Kelly Evans, Director of Information Technology for Thomson-McDuffie County

- Danny O. Lucas, former City Manager of the City of Sylvester and the City of Hahira.

City officials interviewed Mrs. Evans and Mr. Powers Tuesday night and plan to interview Mr. Lucas Thursday night. Following that final interview, city council members could vote to hire one of the candidates.

Mr. Lucas said he's looking forward to returning to the area. He grew up in Milledgeville, and his father is from Augusta.

He said he's been impressed by the cooperation he's seen between officials in Thomson and McDuffie County.

"In these days and times, that is very important for the growth and prosperity of a community," he said.

He's also excited about several planned projects aimed at bolstering downtown Thomson.

"The soul of a community is in its downtown," Mr. Lucas said. "A lot of times, we get carried away with the strip mall developments and so forth. ... But that's what small towns are really selling: the uniqueness of their downtown."

Mrs. Evans, who grew up in Thomson, said serving as city administrator would allow her the opportunity to repay the community.

"I began working in local government, through the Chamber of Commerce, almost 20 years ago," she said. "I love it more every day. I am a public servant at heart. The people of Thomson raised and educated me, and it only seems right that I would serve here, in my hometown."

But she knows the job in the coming years will become increasingly difficult: There's new subdivisions, new businesses and a multi-million dollar city-county government center on the horizon. Managing those changes will be a huge challenge, she said.

"No matter how much change is needed, it is hard on people," Mrs. Evans said. "Our challenge will be to manage all of this change so that we make a smooth transition, and no one gets left out of the process. Inevitably, when we come out on the other side of all of this change, we will be able to celebrate having a stronger, more beautiful Thomson."

Mr. Powers said he's hoping to expand his role in local government.

"It's an opportunity to contribute in a somewhat larger role, especially with all the infrastructure and development plans that are on the drawing board and that will unfold over the next several years," he said. "It seems to be a critical time in the life of our city and county, and I think I can influence the work in a positive way."

The position - which is becoming vacant due to the retirement of Bob Flanders - attracted resumes from across the nation, including applicants from Michigan, Texas and Ohio. City officials culled the initial stack of applicants to 10, and Thomson Mayor Bob Knox narrowed that list to the final three.

Meanwhile, Mr. Knox said Mr. Flanders will remain with the city for a little while to help ease the transition to the new city administrator. That in itself is a perk to whoever gets the job, Mr. Lucas said.

"It will help get background for what the community is really like, the culture of the community, the business atmosphere," he said.

Web posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007

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