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Search to begin for new rec director
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Tommy Hailey has been recreation director so long the county doesn’t even have a job description for his position.

Hailey’s last day with the Newton County Recreation Commission is Friday — he’ll be honored with a retirement reception from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Turner Lake Complex — and the commission and Newton County are working to find a replacement.

Hailey has been recreation director for nearly a quarter century and is technically a Covington employee, grandfathered in as a city employee when the county assumed oversight of recreation, and its costs, in a swap through which the county received control of the city’s water production plant.

Therefore, the county has no job description, and the city’s description looks very little like what Hailey does today.

Because the Recreation Commission is an entity created by the state, it technically has the authority to hire a new director, said commission Chair Danny Stone, though the director is a county employee and much of the commission’s funding is provided by the county.

The commission and county will work together to find a new director.

Stone said the plan is to initially open the job only to county employees.

If there aren’t enough applications from county employees, the posting would then be put out to the general public.

"Strictly from the fact of boosting morale, we want to give county employees an idea they’re not just spinning their wheels, but if they work hard and do their job, they will have the opportunity to move to a position with more responsibility," Stone said Friday.

Rockdale County recently hired a new park and maintenance director and had 72 applicants.

Out of the three finalists named, two had background concerns at their previous places of employment.

Stone said he didn’t know if Newton County would have the same trouble finding qualified applicants from outside the county, but the commission decided to start its search internally.

The job description and pay scale are currently being determined, Stone said; job descriptions from surrounding Henry and Walton counties will be used to create Newton’s description.

A hiring committee of commission members — Stone, the Rev. Ronny Brannen, Flemmie Pitts and Andre Cooper — will do the initial review of applications and select three to five finalists, who then will be interviewed by the recreation commission and possibly the Newton County Board of Commissioners as well.

Stone said it’s important for recreation and county commissioners to be on the same page, since the recreation director will have to present annual budgets to the Board of Commissioners and work with them on SPLOST (special projects local option sales tax) projects, while also serving at the direction of the recreation commission.

If the position is posted publicly, Stone said, it will likely be listed on websites such as those for the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association and the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia.

The Newton County Recreation Commission is responsible for overseeing 21 various parks and facilities throughout the county, as well as running numerous youth sports and some adult sports programs.

As for Friday’s reception, Stone said there will be light refreshments, and the public is invited to stop by from 3 to 6 p.m. to see Hailey off.

A special presentation will be made at 5:30 p.m.