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For a song, new administrator is hired

After eight months with no administrator, Grady County will finally have the position filled beginning next Monday, Sept. 10. The news follows the county commission’s unanimous vote Tuesday morning to hire J.C. (Buddy) Johnson III.
Although the vote was unanimous, Commissioner LaFaye Copeland withheld her vote until Johnson agreed to sing for her.
The new county administrator complied with Copeland’s request and sang a verse of “Amazing Grace,” a cappella. Johnson, known in many circles as the “singing trooper,” has served as the music director for his church in Miller County for the past six years.
After hearing Johnson serenade her, Commissioner Copeland joined her fellow board members in voting unanimously to offer him a 12-month contract at a base salary of $90,000 annually. The year-to-year contract automatically renews each year unless either party provides notice.
The final document was not available at presstime Wednesday, but according to Grady County Clerk Carrie Croy, the agreement includes a 90-day buyout should the board decide not to renew Johnson’s employment contract.
Johnson, a resident of Miller County, recently ended his 27-year career with the Georgia State Patrol. He retired as Troop Commander and Captain for the Southwest Georgia region.
“I’m excited about this opportunity and looking forward to beginning work next week,” Johnson said Tuesday.
The new county administrator attended Tuesday’s commission meeting and sat in on a closed door session to discuss his hiring prior to the public vote, which was conducted just before adjournment.
Although Johnson does not officially assume his new role until next week, he also attended a meeting of members of the board with representatives of the Cairo City Council and Grady County Board of Education on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the possibility of constructing an aquatic center, approved by local voters in a 2007 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum, on the campus of Cairo High School under the terms of an intergovernmental agreement between the three governing bodies.
He also dined with members of the board following Tuesday morning’s meeting.
Johnson declined the health benefits offered to county employees since he continues to be covered by the state’s health insurance plan. He did accept a $30,000 life insurance policy that all county employees are provided.
Johnson was named as the lone finalist for the position on Aug. 14.
“From everyone that I’ve talked to, they’ve had nothing but good things to say about him. We are looking forward to him being here and doing great work as the county’s new administrator,” Grady County Commission Chairman Ray Prince said this week.
The new administrator earned a Masters in Public Administration from Columbus State University and graduated in 2012 with a 4.0 grade point average.
As previously reported by The Messenger, Johnson has no immediate plans to relocate to Grady County from Miller County because his daughter has just entered high school there and he does not want to uproot her from her friends and the community she has known growing up.
Grady County has operated without an administrator since December when Carlos Tobar was asked to resign. The board appointed County Clerk Carrie Croy and Accounting Manager Donna Johnson as co-interim administrators and the duo has been paid an additional $500 each per week for their administrative work.
The board did not vote Tuesday to end the stipend for Croy and Johnson, but Chairman Prince told The Messenger last week that once the new administrator was hired, the compensation for the two interim co-administrators would return to their previous pay.

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