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Interim manager takes helm in College Park

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

College Park is being managed by the director of College Park Power, during the search for a permanent manger.

Jim Smith, who has been in charge of the city's power service since 2001, began managing the city on Jan. 1, when the council appointed him to the interim position.

He will serve there while the mayor and the city council seek to replace William E. Johnson, III, who left to accept a county administration position in Chesterfield County, Va., in December.

Smith said his transition in the spot has been smooth, since he is already familiar with the city.

"I've basically worked with everyone, so I'm very familiar with the city staff," he said. "I understand the subject matter, and it doesn't take long for me to wrap my arms around the pressing issues."

Some of those issues include the short-term priorities of continuity, communicating with the staff and maintaining a progressive outlook, according to city spokesman, Gerald Walker. Long-term priorities include work on development projects, including the $250 million hotel development going up around the Georgia International Convention Center, and expanding the city's relationship with businesses, neighboring cities and regional business operations, Walker said.

As interim city manager, Smith is responsible for more than 400 employees and a city budget of more than $100 million. His previous experience includes 13 years as a chief financial officer at Middleboro (Mass.) Power, six years as the company's general manager, and more than six years at College Park Power.

Mayor Jack Longino described Smith as "very, very capable."

"I don't know how long our search will take," the mayor said, "but it's good to know that we've got individuals who are able to step in and lead."

The search to replace Johnson is expected to take at least three to six months. Johnson has been credited with coining the city's slogan -- "A city on the move" -- and moving the city's development in an "aerotropolis," airport-centered direction.

Smith said he wants "to get as much done as possible" during his time as manager.