UPDATED: Two withdraw applications, council dismisses interim city head
CUMBERLAND COUNTY – The City of Crossville has narrowed the list to six candidates for city manager, and interviews are now underway more than nine months after the firing of its former administrator David Rutherford.
The list includes city and county governmental officials from Texas, Virginia, Georgia and more. The Crossville City Council has scheduled two days of interviews – on Tuesday, Jan. 17, and Friday, Jan. 20 – with its finalists via video conference.
Candidates include Dennis Sparks, Greg Wood and Steve Foote. Mark Reeter, Bristol, Tennessee; Cary Colaianni, Eagle, Idaho; and Tina Tuggle, Kingston, the fourth, fifth and sixth, withdrew their applications, city officials said. None of the above are from the Upper Cumberland region.
- Sparks, of Hopewell, Virginia, is a former county administrator and city manager. He most recently served a three-month stint as city manager for the City of Silsbee, Texas, where he managed a staff of 65 full-time employees and a $3.75 million budget. Silsbee has a population of 6,500. He retired in 2005 and has worked part time in management and aviation consulting in Hopewell, Virginia, in the years since. Prior, he was executive director for Lander County, Nevada, for five months; city manager for the City of Trenton, Ohio, for six months; and village manager in Maywood, Illinois, on a one-year contract in 2002-2003. “I found my niche serving as a ‘crisis manager’ in some of the roughest, toughest places in the country,” Sparks wrote in his cover letter, “managing cities and counties where they did not want…managers. I went in, created teamwork, fixed their problems and moved on to the next place.”
- Wood most recently served as county manager in Harris County, Georgia, from 2013-2016, a government office responsible for “a larger area, budget, and over 290 employees,” he wrote, along with a budget in excess of $20 million. Prior to that, he was county manager in Jasper County, Georgia, from 2010-2012, and served in other governmental roles in Holmes County, Holly Hill, Tallahassee and Daytona Beach, Florida. He wants to return to his “roots in municipal government.” “Why Crossville?” he asked in his submitted letter. “The location, quality of life and historic aspects of the city are the primary draw. The other reason is size. It is too easy to get lost in county government; Crossville is big enough to keep busy, but small enough to know all the employees.”
- Foote, currently the community development director for the City of Dunwoody, Georgia, was responsible for planning and zoning, building, engineering and code enforcement functions. He previously served as planning director for the City of Mt. Juliet from 2009-14. “During my career, I have worked for cities of varying size, character and growth rates, including one of the fastest growing cities in the nation and a tourist community,” Foote said. “In each position, I have a proven track record of making substantial positive contributions.”
Crossville last year parted ways with Rutherford, who served nearly two-and-a-half years in his capacity, after council members said he violated the city’s spending policy. Some city council members questioned costs related to the Horizon Initiative, a collaborative community plan and marketing effort, saying expenditures were unbudgeted. MMA Creative, with offices in Cookeville and Nashville, performed roughly $4,635 worth of work on the initiative before his termination; it subsequently withdrew its services. MMA founded the Upper Cumberland Business Journal in 2009.
The council opted to wait until now – or at least until after the November election – to hire the position permanently, since two council seats were up for vote.
It has not said when a final decision would be made.
More than 40 applied for the position, including Steve Hill, former parks and recreation director for the city, who was appointed on an interim basis back in April. He was not among the six finalists – and was dismissed by the council this week following a grievance filing by the current parks director. Rutherford also reportedly submitted his resume again for the job.
Municipal Technical Advisory Services (MTAS) initially ranked the candidates, and each council member submitted his or her top picks to arrive at the final list.
The City of Crossville (population 11,246) employs 170-180 full time, and the city manager will be responsible for a $20.6 million general fund. Salary for the position would pay between $69,000-$110,000 dependent on experience.
Lee Lawson, the city’s IT administrator, will now serve as city manager in the interim.