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Thomas interviewed as sole finalist for Covington city manager
Covington City Hall - DEC2021
(Photo by Taylor Beck)

COVINGTON, Ga. — Covington Council did not look far before settling on its sole finalist to manage the city government’s day-to-day operations.

The council met in a closed executive session Monday, Nov. 21, and interviewed Interim City Manager Emory “Tres” Thomas for the position, said city Human Resources Director Paul Dailey.

Council members “provided their expectations” of him during the session but made no decisions after the meeting, Dailey said.

Thomas was appointed as interim city manager in May. 

He then was among 51 who applied for the position after the Council chose to seek applicants for the permanent position in September.

The council narrowed the search to four applicants, after which the city conducted background checks and settled on Thomas and Lorri Smith, who is chief financial officer and comptroller for the Georgia Department of Public Safety. 

Smith, a Rutledge resident, had ties to Covington as a Newton High School graduate and a seven-year stint as accounting and finance manager for the Newton County Board of Commissioners. 

She also worked as county manager for Jasper County and in key financial positions in the Georgia Secretary of State and Governor’s offices.

However, Smith withdrew her application for the city manager job and the council chose to interview Thomas.  

The city manager leads the day-to-day operations of Covington’s government, which has a $157.4 million budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year and more than 300 employees. 

Covington’s last two city managers, Scott Andrews and Leigh Anne Knight, negotiated and received an appointment to work under contract, city attorney Frank Turner Jr. told the council in May. 

Before that, city managers of Covington did not work under contract and only served “at the pleasure of the city council,” Turner said. 

Thomas was appointed as interim city manager May 16 following the May 3 resignation of Andrews — who took a similar position in Bakersfield, California, after three years in Covington.

Before Thomas’ appointment, he worked over a 20-year span in a number of roles with the city.

He began work as the city engineer in 2002, and subsequently worked as assistant public works director, public works director and planning director.

Thomas also previously worked as a project engineer for Pendergrass & Associates Inc. in Conyers, Brownfields Services Inc. in Roswell, Farmer Oil Inc. in Oxford, and Holston Companies in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Alabama and received additional training through the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Southern Poly State University in Marietta.

His certifications and registrations include Georgia Board of Registration for Engineers and Land Surveyors, ASFPM Certified Floodplain Manager, GSWCC Level II Certified Design Professional, and Management Development Program and Public Works Management certifications from the UGA Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

Tres Thomas
Tres Thomas