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LaFollette City Council to begin search for city admin

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By PETER SAWYER

At Tuesday night’s meeting, the LaFollette City Council will begin its search for a full-time city administrator. The position was vacated Jan. 18 when former interim city administrator Cade Sexton resigned. Mayor Mike Stanfield read Sexton’s letter of resignation at a special called meeting on Jan. 18.
At the LaFollette City Council workshop on Jan. 28, city council member Stephanie Grimm added advertising for a full-time city administrator to Tuesday’s meeting agenda.
The council approved allocating $70,000 for hiring a full-time city administrator when it passed the 2012-13 budget, LaFollette Finance Director Terry Sweat said.
The city administrator is appointed by the city council based on his experience and educational qualifications, according to the LaFollette city charter.
“Minimum qualifications shall include a college degree or training and experience in municipal management or public administration,” the charter said.
“Besides those guidelines, we need someone who is willing to work with department heads (and) the council and the mayor as part of a team,” Grimm said Tuesday morning.
The council will vote on advertising the position in newspapers and the Tennessee Municipal League’s newsletters at Tuesday’s meeting. While the council is spreading a statewide net, Grimm is most interested in a qualified candidate who is from Campbell County and invested in the area, she said.
“I feel like there are many people in this area that are qualified to do that job and do it well,” Grimm said.
The council will also discuss the length of the applications process at Tuesday’s meeting.
“I would hope within a month we’d have somebody,” Grimm said.
It took about a month for the council to hire Police Chief Jimmy Jeffries when the position was vacant, Grimm said.
During the workshop, city council member Hansford Hatmaker asked who would take responsibility for administrative duties until a full-time administrator is hired.
“Are we going to have somebody to sort of sit in for that position?” Hatmaker asked.
The council can appoint either a city employee or someone from outside the city, as long as the person isn’t on the council, city attorney Reid Troutman said.
Hatmaker doesn’t have a specific person in mind for the job, he said after the meeting. The decision doesn’t rest with Hatmaker, but requires a majority vote, Hatmaker said.
However Hatmaker speculated about possible candidates. It could be anybody, he said. Hatmaker suggested former mayor Cliff Jennings and former county commissioner Melvin Boshears as potential candidates. Boshears and Jennings, who were standing with Hatmaker, both declined the offer.
Tuesday, the council will discuss appointing an interim city administrator, Grimm said.
Sexton’s resignation came in the middle of an investigation into a wreck involving Sexton and Hatmaker. Hatmaker and Sexton were returning from a trip to Memphis on Jan. 4 when they were involved in a wreck. Hatmaker was driving Sexton’s 2002 Ford Explorer, which was registered to the city, when he wrecked into a Nissan that was pulled over by the Tennessee Highway Patrol, according to Dalya Qualls, from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. Nobody was injured, but Hatmaker was cited for failing to pull over, Qualls said. Sexton and Hatmaker spent $545.41 on a city credit card to tow the vehicle and rent a car to return to LaFollette, according to records from the city of LaFollette. Both Sexton and Hatmaker claimed to have been on official city business at the time of the accident. The business involved working with the Tennessee Department of Correction to establish a halfway house in LaFollette, Sexton said. However, TDOC officials were unable to confirm this.