Henry E. “Hank” Griffeth has what he considers the best job he could ever have.
A former city planner, Griffeth became Milledgeville’s new city manager Tuesday night following back-to-back meetings by city council.
Griffeth, a native son of Milledgeville, was the only candidate for the job where he oversees day-to-day operations of city government.
Griffeth, who served as interim city manager for a little more than a year, replaces Barry Jarrett, who served as city manager for several years before his resignation last spring. Jarrett later retired.
Griffeth’s previous role with the city was that of city planner and he also served as project manager for The Development Authority of Milledgeville and Baldwin County (DAMBC). His work as city planner began in fall 2014. Before working for the city, Griffeth worked as the operations director for the Milledgeville-Baldwin County Chamber of Commerce and spent 13 years as the vice president of operations for Central Georgia Technical College, as well as 14 years at Georgia College as the Career Center director.
Officials announced two weeks ago, as required under Georgia law, that Griffeth was the only candidate being considered for the appointment.
City Alderman Walter Reynolds made a motion Tuesday that the city council agenda be amended to approve the agreement between Griffeth and the city. The motion received a second from Alderman Steve Chambers.
When the mayor later called for a vote from the full six-member city council, the motion was unanimously approved.
City Council later unanimously approved a resolution for an employment contract with Griffeth.
After an executive session, which was closed to the public, the action session of city council began and Mayor Mary Parham-Copelan asked for a motion concerning Griffeth’s appointment as the city’s new manager.
“It is a great day for the city of Milledgeville,” proclaimed Parham-Copelan following Griffeth’s appointment. “It’s a great day. We have one of our own; born and reared here. He’s now going to take the helm of running this city. And thus far, the whole council is thoroughly proud of you and the work that you have done. And we are so excited to say that you are now our newly appointed city manager of the city of Milledgeville, Ga.”
Following the vote, Griffeth was greeted by his wife, Cindy, with a big hug.
Griffeth was asked later if he thought it would be different being city manager as opposed to interim city manager.
Griffeth said in some regards he didn’t think it would feel any different the next morning when he walked into City Hall because he had the opportunity and the privilege to serve as the city’s interim manager for the past year.
“But it will feel different, too, because city council had the confidence in me to make me the permanent appointee,” Griffeth told The Union-Recorder. “As probably all of you (reporters) know, this is my home. I’m excited about being in this role, and I just look forward to continuing some of the things we got started in my role as interim city manager, and just strengthening those things and moving forward.”
Under his tenure as interim city manager, one of the biggest undertakings, perhaps, was helping in the negotiation stages that led to a new 10-year Service Delivery Strategy Agreement being worked out between Milledgeville City Council and the Baldwin County Board of Commissioners.
Another big hurdle involved establishing a new city budget and getting it approved.
“And now, we’re starting to work through the water and sewer agreement that was put in as part of the service delivery,” Griffeth said. “So, we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but I’m excited, appreciative, honored and humbled that Council saw fit to put me in this role.”
Asked if there was anything different that he planned to do right away and Griffeth replied, not really.
“I was the city planner prior to being the interim city manager, so my general process is to plan,” Griffeth said. “So, there were things that I already had in the works and had planned to do even in the interim role if this appointment not occurred.”
Griffeth said he did not intend to do many things any different than he had in his previous role with the city.
“I don’t plan to do business any differently,” Griffeth said. “I will keep Council informed. I will ask their opinion and I will asked their approval when it is necessary.”
He said above everything his biggest role will be helping move the community forward.
“I want to make sure my children and grandchildren can live and grow up here, if that is what they want to do,” Griffeth said.
When asked whether he thought his becoming the new city manager was a dream come true, his eyes filled with tears.
“You know, I was thinking when they made the vote, in the early ‘60s when I was a youngin running around the sidewalks here, there was no way that was ever thought about,” said an emotional Griffeth. “I wish my parents were here to see this.”
He added that he didn’t know if it was a dream come true because he didn’t know if it was necessarily a dream he saw for himself.
“But it’s a great thing for me to be able to do and I’m excited about it,” Griffeth said. “I look forward to continuing to work hard.”
On a light note, Griffeth said there were probably some people still living who remember him as a child growing up in Milledgeville.
“They are probably real surprised that I’m here,” Griffeth said with a big smile. “But those people have been very supportive too, and it’s those people that helped get me where I am and I’m extremely appreciative of that.”