Five months after their city manager resigned, East Ridge City Council members are preparing to interview a trio of candidates for the job.
This week the council voted to invite three candidates who have applied for the job and qualify for the position under the city's charter.
Those three candidates are: Hamilton County Judicial Commissioner Larry Ables; Hattiesburg, Miss., Director of Federal and State Programs Andrew Allard; and Fairview, Tenn., City Manager Andrew Hyatt.
If those candidates accept the invitation, they will come to East Ridge for an in-person interview. A second interview will follow if council members think they need one.
This will be the second round of interviews for the city. The council interviewed other candidates earlier this year and offered the job to Chris Dorsey in May, but he declined and took a similar job with Signal Mountain.
Of the 30 candidates who applied for the position, City Attorney Hal North said, 16 held master's degrees in public administration. But those candidates do not qualify under the City Charter because it requires the city manager to hold a bachelor's degree -- anything further does not work.
Tim Gobble resigned from the East Ridge city manager post in February. The city gave Gobble about $79,000 in severance, paid out monthly through Sept. 7. If he had not resigned, some city employees believed that the council would have voted to fire Gobble.
Gobble next served as deputy chief for corrections and security with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.
On Wednesday, Gov. Bill Haslam appointed him to the seven-member Tennessee Board of Parole, where he will make $93,732 a year. He starts Tuesday.
Council members expressed support for Gobble in his new job.
Mayor Brent Lambert never supported Gobble's resignation and said he thought Gobble has succeeded in every job he has held. Vice Mayor Jim Bethune was not so pleased with Gobble toward the end of his run with the city, but was supportive of him in his new role.
"Isn't that something?" Bethune said. "Good for him. I'm happy for him and his family. He really lands on his feet, doesn't he? It's not every day you can get a $93,000-a-year job with the state."'
Councilman Larry Sewell, who along with Lambert voted against accepting Gobble's resignation in February, said the governor's appointment shows how silly the city was to fire Gobble.
"It kind of slaps East Ridge in the face a little bit," he said. "He wasn't good enough for East Ridge, but the governor thinks enough of him? I think it was a mistake when we got rid of him."
Councilman Marc Gravitt declined to comment Thursday.
Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6476.
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