published Saturday, March 12th, 2011

Varnell weighs 4 for city manager

DALTON, Ga.—Varnell leaders hope to hire a city manager soon after meeting this week to interview four finalists for the position.

Mayor Dan Peeples said details such as salary and benefits had to be ironed out before making the final decision and announcing the name of the person who accepts the job to manage day-to-day operations for the town of about 1,600.

The four finalists are Bryon Brackett, the revenue cycle manager at Murray Medical Center in Chatsworth, Ga.; Jason Hall, code enforcement officer, flood plain manager and safety officer for the city of Ringgold, Ga.; Christopher Stone, a contract consultant and interim city manager in Talladega, Ala.; and Michael Williams, owner of NaPali Business Solutions in Dalton.

Around 35 people from across the nation applied for the position after the previous city manager, Mark Gibson, accepted a job as Whitfield County manager in January.

The salary for the position was not advertised, but Peeples said it will be in the $50,000 range.

He said the ideal person for the job is someone who is passionate and enthusiastic about the city and aggressive in pursuing goals to improve Varnell.

“People want a good quality of life,” Peeples said. “We want to be that town where people can have a picnic, fly a kite, learn to ride a bike and hike nature trails.”

Varnell is strategically located to be a bedroom community for Dalton, Cleveland and Chattanooga, Peeples said. With the opening of the state-of-the-art Coahulla Creek High School this fall, more families likely will be attracted to the area, he said.

Last year, BusinessWeek.com ranked Varnell as the best place in Georgia to raise children. Low taxes, good schools, affordable housing and a relatively high per capita income, as well as a location close to a larger city, factored into the ranking, according to the online article.

Peeples recently released a 2010 vision plan for Varnell with information about what he would like to see in the next 10 years.

Attracting service businesses such as a dry cleaners, a veterinary clinic and an insurance agency are some of the things the new city manager would be asked to do, Peeples said.

about Mariann Martin...

Mariann Martin covers healthcare in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. She joined the Times Free Press in February 2011, after covering crime and courts for the Jackson (Tenn.) Sun for two years. Mariann was born in Indiana, but grew up in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Belize. She graduated from Union University in 2005 with degrees in English and history and has master’s degrees in international relations and history from the University of Toronto. While attending Union, ...

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