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Supervisors hire Garrard as CAO despite Trainer's criticism

 

Carl Smith

 

Oktibbeha County supervisors promoted Comptroller Emily Garrard to county administrator despite Board President Orlando Trainer's pleas to hire Ivory Williams, Jackson's former deputy chief administrator for funding and deputy director of housing and community development. 

 

The board approved Garrard's hire with a 4-1 vote. Only Trainer voted against the matter. 

 

Garrard's salary was not set by the board Monday, but it is expected she will immediately take over the job. 

 

District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard motioned for Garrard's hire and said she's a competent employee who had unofficially assumed the role since former County Administrator Don Posey's retirement in December. 

 

Trainer came out in vigorous opposition to Garrard, saying Williams' skills as a grant writer would better serve Oktibbeha County than what Garrard's former Starkville Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill, the third finalist for the job, might add. 

 

"In a perfect world, I'd like to have all three," he said. "It says very poor of us as a board that we can get anybody we want (and not hire Williams). Money was not an option. For us to fumble the situation like we have, it's a disservice. 

 

"I'm trying to take this county somewhere," Trainer added. 

 

Howard said he was comfortable with his personal process to determine the best candidate for Oktibbeha County, one he said was influenced by the finalists' resumes and board interviews, but Trainer said he could not understand how any other supervisors used the same information and came up with a different top hire. 

 

Trainer congratulated Garrard, who was sitting with the supervisors during the meeting, after the final vote and said he looked forward to working with her in the incoming administrator's formal role. 

 

District 5 Supervisors Joe Williams, who seconded Howard's motion, attempted to create a new assistant county administrator position and fill the role with Ivory Williams. 

 

His motion was defeated by a 3-2 vote -- only Trainer supported Joe Williams' motion -- after Howard said the county should not create a new position without creating a job description first. 

 

Since Joe Williams delivered his motion at the table, advertising could not be completed in a timely manner for the new job. He also did not suggest a salary scale. 

 

The board whittled down a 30-plus candidate pool to five finalists earlier this year. That list also decreased in February after Union County Administrator Terry Johnson and AdCare Regional Healthcare Vice President John Thomas pulled out of contention. 

 

Supervisors never set deadlines for a job hire and repeatedly called the process an informal one. The board tabled a March request by District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery to discuss the ongoing search behind closed doors after he said the county was dragging its feet on the matter.

 

Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch

 

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