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County manager search goes on
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The search for a new county manager will continue for just a little while longer.

Thats what Dawson County commissioners decided at a called meeting on Nov. 8. They went into a closed meeting and then voted openly to extend the search for five more business days.

The board had heard from other folks that there was some interest in interviewing, said Commission Chair Mike Berg. They wanted to make sure that they had talked to anybody who was interested (in the position) internally.

District One Commissioner Gary Pichon made the motion for the extension, which began Tuesday and will run through Monday, Nov. 19, at 5 p.m. Both Pichon and Berg were quick to point out that the current three candidates for the position are still in the running.

They are still in the mix, Pichon said. Theres no indication on our part that has changed. We just want to make absolutely certain weve allowed ourselves as many people that want to take a look at this as we can.

Berg echoed that sentiment. Nobodys been excluded, he said.

The three candidates who had previously been announced were David Headley, director of public works and community development; Bob Ivey, director of administration, and Billy Thurmond, director of Dawson County Emergency Services.

According to Berg, if a different person applies for the position and is considered a serious candidate, his or her name will be released to the public at least 14 days before a final decision is announced.

The current county manager, Kevin Tanner, will leave the position in January, having been elected to the District Nine seat of the state House of Representatives.

Prior to the called meeting, a regularly-scheduled work session was held, with the commissioners discussing a H.E.L.P. Program Grant given to the county, a sum of $69,213 for the use of a Mental Health Court. The program would work to rehabilitate people who break the laws due to mental health issues through programs involving therapy and medication.

We expect the program to start small, said Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin, who has presided over the mental health court in Hall County since 2004. Thanks to the grant, she said, the program can expand to Dawson County.

According to Gosselin, the Hall County system has received referrals from Dawson County over the last two years. Sixteen to 25 percent of folks in jails and prisons have mental health issues, she said.

In Dawson County, she said she expected 10 to 15 people would be in the program as it begins.

The grant itself is a one-year program renewable for up to three years, Berg said. Looks like a great program, and would be at no cost to us, he said. There would be one full-time employee who would be housed on the fourth floor of the Government Center.

The salary for the county employee would come from the grant.