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County chooses new HR director

The county recently announced the selection of the new Human Resources Director.

Jeff Pogue was introduced at the Oct. 26 Board of Commissioners work session by Janet Rutledge, who has been serving as interim human resources director.

Pogue, who currently resides in Chattanooga, Tenn., said he was going to do the "very best" he could for the employees and citizens of Rockdale and was looking forward to the challenge.

"I'm not a newcomer to politics, so I understand the nuances. But I've also got 33 years in human resources, so we're going to be drawing on that. I'm not going to try and reinvent the wheel, but we're going to try and fix the things that need to be fixed and continue or improve the things that are working," said Pogue. He added that he and his wife were already looking for a place to move to in Rockdale County.

The Tennessee native described his background as the chief human resources official with manufacturing companies across the southeast, the personnel/office manager for the city of Chattanooga's 600-employee public works department and as a consultant in human relations, employee relations and labor relations. Pogue said he received a Master's degree in industrial/organizational psychology from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He attended college on a golf scholarship and in the middle of his college years served in the armed forces.

Some of the county positions that Pogue will be involved filling include the director of the General Services and Engineering Department, which has been vacant since August.

When asked in a separate interview what was the key to facilitating a successful organization, Pogue said "The three most important things in working with people is to communicate, communicate, communicate. To make sure everybody’s on the same page you have to make sure they understand what the expectations are."

"I personally believe the people doing the job are the experts. It’s not always the ‘director’ that knows the ins and outs. That’s true in my area too."

Rutledge described the four-month search and interview process for the new director. The department employed the help of a consultant, Keiko Humphries of Humphries Consulting, Inc., to guide the process and help winnow down 160 applicants to nine semi-finalists. Those semi-finalists were brought in to be reviewed by a first panel of four interviewers - Commissioner Oz Nesbitt, Commissioner JaNice Van Ness, Janet Rutledge, and Fire Chief Cedric Scott.

The two finalists that were chosen took an aptitude test, said Rutledge, and gave a presentation for a second panel of interviewers - Rockdale County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Rob Cordero, Director of the Recreation and Maintenance Department David Smith, Rockdale Water Resources Director Dwight Wicks and BOC Chairman Richard Oden performed the final interview.

Pogue said his style was to be honest, open and to bring solutions instead of problems. "I told him ‘If you’re looking for a person that’s a bobble-headed doll, you’ve got the wrong guy."

Pogue will receive a salary of $85,000 annually as the HR director for Rockdale County, which has more than 800 employees.

Former Director Arthur Reese resigned in June, right after the deputy director, Chris Corey, was fired and arrested for charges in Cobb County from his time with the city of Smyrna for allegedly misusing government purchase cards in thousands of dollars of personal purchases.