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A fine first five months for Jonesboro city manager

By Ed Brock

When Jonesboro City Manager Jon Walker started his job on Jan. 1 the city council gave him a list.

"This is what they wanted me to work on, this is what they wanted to see," Walker said. "A lot of things on the list were long-term goals. I do feel like we've done a good job of laying the foundation."

Now approaching his fifth month on the job, 30-year-old Walker has found he's come at a good time for achieving those objectives, including improving the city's infrastructure and addressing traffic flow in the downtown area, as the city begins to implement its part of the Atlanta Regional Commission's Livable Centers Initiative.

"We just received our contract from the ARC saying here's the money, go forth and do it," Walker said. "That will all occur at one time with the help of a paid consultant."

That paid consultant will be Jordan, Jones and Goulding out of Norcross, a company the city picked from a field of 10 competitors. Other cities like Forest Park recently received LCI grants from the ARC to begin the implementation of their plans.

"We'll hopefully be in that pot by next year," Walker said. "The plan will be done in December and we'll be ready to ask for some construction money in February."

Another big city project, the master land use plan, has been put on hold as the city works on the LCI.

"We're going to use input from the LCI public hearings in the land use plan," Walker said.

And the city will be holding a public hearing on June 2 to get input on another undertaking connected to the LCI, the revision of the city's zoning ordinance.

Before coming to work for the city, Walker was chief administrative officer for Oconee County, where he oversaw a $25 million budget in a county with a population of 27,000. Jonesboro operates on a $3 million annual budget with a population of 3,899 and Walker makes a salary of $75,000 a year.

And he's worth it, Jonesboro Mayor Joy Day said.

"I think he's doing a wonderful job," Day said. "With his training he's brought a wealth of knowledge to the city."

Council member Wallace Norrington agreed.

"He's kind of feeling out things and people are feeling him out," Norrington said. "I think he's going to be good for the city."

Getting acquainted with everybody and everything in the city has been the most challenging aspect of the job, Walker said. The recently held Jonesboro Days gave him a chance to meet even more Jonesboro residents and past residents as well.

"I feel really comfortable with the people I'm working with and the community," Walker said.

At least one of those people, City Clerk Joanie Jones, feels the same way.

"It's been a learning experience. He has a lot of good ideas," Jones said.