Alan Thomas to return as Decatur County administrator?

Decatur County Commissioners held a special called meeting on Friday evening, and when it was over, they announced that no suitable candidates for county administrator had been found out of the four people they had interviewed for the job.

Instead, county commissioners may have a familiar face in mind to become the next permanent county administrator.

“We are actively seeking Alan Thomas to become the next county administrator,” said Pete Stephens, vice-chairman of the Decatur County Board of Commissioners. “Alan has agreed to accept if he is offered the position. At this time, we have not formally offered him the position.”

Stephens said that county commissioners have to wait before hiring Thomas, because Georgia law requires a 14-day period between the naming of a finalist for the position and a formal vote on the hiring. According to the Georgia Open Records law, a 14-day period applies because county commissioners conducted interviews for administrator candidates in private, instead of in an open meeting.

Alan Thomas previously served as county administrator and retired in 2005, after 16 years in the position, starting in 1989. Prior to becoming county administrator in 1989, Thomas had also worked for Decatur County EMS and had served as assistant county administrator for one year. Along with other experience, Thomas is a certified paramedic. He is currently employed by Archbold Hospital, according to Commissioner Stephens.

Thomas is 58 years old and resides in Bainbridge.

Thomas was succeeded in the role of county administrator by Jim Bramblett, then Tom Patton, then Gary Breedlove (who served on an interim basis before being named full-time). Local CPA Perry Henry has been serving as interim Decatur County Administrator since Breedlove resigned effective April 30, 2015.

Stephens: Thomas is a ‘straight-shooter’

County commissioners received 22 applications, both locally and out-of-town, after advertising the position was open. However, of the four semi-finalists county commissioners identified, none was local. County commissioners interviewed each of the four people by telephone. Background checks were also conducted–both a criminal history search and a review of references provided by the candidates, Commission Chairman Dennis Brinson said previously.

It was the background checks that ultimately led the search to an unfruitful end, according to Stevens.

“There were things that showed up in the background checks that we would not have been happy with if we moved forward with one of the four candidates,” said Stephens, who had earlier stressed that commissioners were avoiding rushing with the search in an attempt to find a good, long-term administrator.

In the end, that notion of stability is what brought commissioners back to Thomas.

“When Thomas started as county administrator, the county was broke and couldn’t make payroll,” Stephens said. “When he left, we had millions of dollars of reserves in the bank. We hope that [Thomas] will be able to lead Decatur County back to a solid financial status.”

Stephens also said Thomas has a good reputation among those who remember working with him when he was county administrator.

“He’s a straight-shooter, he tells you what he thinks will work,” Stephens said. “He takes a straightforward approach to problem-solving and his word is his bond.”

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