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Newton officials host going-away reception for county manager
Kerr reception1
Then-County Manager Lloyd Kerr speaks to the crowd at a reception for him Dec. 20 at the Historic Courthouse. - photo by Tom Spigolon

COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton County government threw a going-away party for its county manager Monday at the Historic Courthouse.

Some who gave plaudits to Lloyd Kerr during the reception were unable to follow Chairman Marcello Banes’ plan for a light-hearted event and instead gave emotional or tearful remembrances of him.

Kerr is leaving the job leading the day-to-day operations of the county government on Jan. 1 after county commissioners in November opted not to renew his contract.

He has served as county manager since early 2016 when he was hired in an interim position. He was promoted to the permanent position in August 2016.

Top county staff members and department heads recalled their memories of working with Kerr. 

Kerr’s executive administrative assistant, Nwaka Hughes, said Kerr had an easy-going approach to management but had high expectations.

She said he also would keep things light with his staff — often joking — which made it an enjoyable experience.

”We are all blessed to have worked alongside you,” she said. “You’re a wonderful ... caring servant.”

Longtime County Clerk Jackie Smith said she first met Kerr when he was hired as the county’s planning director in the mid-2010s. 

“Your handprint is on Newton County. That will never go away,” Smith said.

She said Kerr helped her get through the mental challenge of being a caregiver for her ill husband while working full-time at a sometimes fast-paced job.

“He always left me feeling better when he left my office,” she said.

Banes has praised Kerr for his financial leadership which allowed the county government to increase a $6 million reserve fund in 2016 to $39 million this year. Financial rating companies often use the portion of a general fund taken by reserves to rate a government’s credit-worthiness and qualifying it for much lower interest rates on bond financing.

Kerr told the crowd of mostly county employees that none of what had been accomplished while he was county manager could have been done without them.

“I’m hoping I can land somewhere close so I can keep working with y’all,” he said.

County commissioners in November voted 3-2 not to renew his contract following complaints about his managerial style and his cautious approach toward distribution of federal COVID relief funds which had kept the money from being distributed.