Jeff Long returning to work in Fort Oglethorpe

Commissioner Jeff Long listens during a Catoosa County Commission meeting Tuesday, April 4, 2017, in Ringgold, Ga.
Commissioner Jeff Long listens during a Catoosa County Commission meeting Tuesday, April 4, 2017, in Ringgold, Ga.

Jeff Long, whose work has impacted several North Georgia local governments, is back with the city of Fort Oglethorpe.

Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield said Long announced his resignation as the county's roads superintendent Thursday to return to work at the city. Long first came to the county in October 2015, when then-Commissioner Bebe Heiskell hired him.

While Whitfield's election in November brought a couple of new employees to the county, he said Long's job prospects weren't impacted with him as a Heiskell holdover.

"I didn't have any issues with him," Whitfield said. "Everything I asked him to do, he did without any issues or problems."

Long has also been a Catoosa County commissioner since 2011. He did not return a call to his listed cellphone or to an email address Tuesday. Fort Oglethorpe City Manager Jennifer Payne-Simpkins and Mayor Earl Gray also did not return calls. But Councilwoman Paula Stinnett said she believes Long is returning to his former duties with the city, where he used to serve as public works and recreation director.

Long worked for the city for more than 20 years before leaving to serve under Heiskell. He has also been a Fort Oglethorpe volunteer firefighter.

Long lost his job in March 2013, when a new City Council forced City Manager Ron Goulart to resign. The council's replacement, Harold Silcox, turned around and fired Long within hours of his appointment. But he was back with the city in 2014, when voters elected three new councilmen, who then restored the city's old administrators.

As for Walker County, Whitfield posted a job listing for Long's replacement Tuesday afternoon. Instead of the roads superintendent, the county is looking for a public works director who will oversee road repair, drainage and concrete work. The county hopes to hire somebody with at least an associate's degree in civil engineering.

Tree City

Fort Oglethorpe has received a designation for observing best practices in tree maintenance, Stinnett announced during the City Council meeting March 27. The designation - Tree City USA - is awarded by the Arbor Day Foundation, a conservation and education nonprofit organization based in Nebraska.

The benefits are mostly promotional, with Fort Oglethorpe now displaying signs around town about their designation. Stinnett, who spearheaded the effort, believes it could eventually boost property values, seeing that the city will look better if local officials follow best practices.

To get the designation, Stinnett had to form a board of residents, with someone legally responsible for trees on city-owned property. The city also had to form a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per person in the city, with the money going toward planting, taking care of and removing trees.

Also, the City Council had to pass an ordinance for how people in town should care for their trees. Stinnett said the tree board already planted a Christmas tree on Barnhardt Circle and others around city hall.

The board also organizes classes on tree planting and treatment. The next one will be in late August or early September.

"If you plant trees the right way," she said, "you will save a lot of money."

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.

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