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Staff photo by Doug Strickland / Alicia Vaughn sits with her family during a Catoosa County Commission meeting at the Catoosa County administrative building on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Ringgold, Ga. Commissioners voted unanimously to donate about 5 acres of land to the Catoosa County Board of Education.
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Staff photo by Doug Strickland / Alicia Vaughn talks after a Catoosa County Commission meeting at the Catoosa County administrative building on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Ringgold, Ga. Commissioners voted unanimously to donate about 5 acres of land to the Catoosa County Board of Education.

RINGGOLD, Ga. — Whitfield County Chief Financial Officer Alicia Vaughn is the only finalist for the Catoosa County manager position.

Catoosa County Attorney Clifton "Skip" Patty announced Vaughn as a candidate for the job during a commission meeting Tuesday night. Multiple commissioners said they will vote to offer her the position, and Vaughn said she will take the job.

Legally, the elected officials cannot make a formal offer until two weeks after they unveil the finalists. The county received 33 applications for the position, and Patty said they interviewed seven or eight candidates. In Georgia, local governments can keep all applications private until they dwindle the offers down to three final candidates.

Here, though, Patty said Vaughn is the only finalist. Other potential candidates backed off after multiple interviews, when the commissioners revealed they will offer a salary of about $125,000 a year.

Vaughn said she applied for the job because she wanted a step up in responsibility, as well as the opportunity to work closely with department heads. She believes Catoosa County is a growing community, citing the Publix under construction on Battlefield Parkway.

"Catoosa is going to be a great place to work," she said. "I don't want to just work here. I want to get out and meet people in the community and really be a part of the community."

According to her resume, Vaughn graduated with a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Georgia in 1994. She then worked as an assistant vice president of First Bank of Dalton, then owned a catering business, then returned for about two years. She served as the city of Dalton's assistant finance director from March 2007 to September 2012. She has been Whitfield County's CFO for the last six years.

In a letter to Catoosa County Commission Chairman Steven Henry, Vaughn wrote that she works closely with Whitfield County Administrator Mark Gibson. She said she helped with negotiations with Dalton concerning sales tax revenue and helped prepare the county's 2018 comprehensive plan.

"Probably the thing I enjoyed most about my job in Whitfield was helping people, working with the department heads," she told the Times Free Press on Tuesday night. "I thought this would be a good fit for my personality. And I wanted to do it somewhere in this area."

Said Henry: "We liked that she had government experience. Some of the candidates didn't have that. That's not terrible. But I think government experience is a plus."

In addition to government experience, County Commissioner Jim Cutler said he wanted a county manager well versed in finance.

"Once we talked with her and saw her qualifications and experience in county government, everything kind of fell into place and spoke for itself," he said. "She also came very highly recommended."

If hired, Vaughn will replace Jim Walker, who resigned as county manager on Feb. 20. He since has taken a job as president of Black Swan Digital Forensics, a company that retrieves and analyzes information off devices such as cellphones.

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

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