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Board hires Memphis native as Millington’s next manager

By Bill ShortFlag City Logo

The Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted this week to employ Memphis native and Chattanooga resident Chris Dorsey as the city’s next interim manager.
Board members took the action Monday night during their regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Chris Ford and seconded by Alderman Larry Dagen. The motion was passed by five affirmative votes, with Aldermen Hank Hawkins and Thomas McGhee absent.
A graduate of The University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in public administration, Dorsey is a certified municipal finance officer. He also has a certification from the Municipal Management Academy of UT’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service.
From 1997-98, Dorsey served as state president of the Tennessee Junior Chamber of Commerce. He is also a certified national trainer with the Junior Chamber International’s EXCEL Program. Dorsey is a former board member of Chattanooga’s Chamber and YMCA, the Southeast Tennessee Economic Development Council and the Tennessee Municipal League. He is currently a member of the Tennessee and International City Management Associations.
For the city of Memphis, he served as a budget analyst in the Division of Housing and Community Development and the Division of Finance and Administration, as well as supervisor of Solid Waste Management and the city’s budget manager.
Dorsey has also been the city manager of Red Bank and a consultant to the manager of Spring City, as well as director of the Office of Management and Budget in Pasco County, Fla.
From June 2013 through last month, he was employed as town manager of Signal Mountain.
During a special meeting on Aug. 12, 2013, the board hired Mike Chesney as interim city manager. That was one week after it voted to terminate the employment of Thomas Christie, who had served for seven months as the city’s first professional manager.
At the conclusion of his first report to the board during its Sept. 3 regular monthly meeting, Chesney requested that an opening for the permanent position be posted on the city’s Web site.
He has said that, anytime he has been involved in searches, he has always relied on a “third party” for advice. So, he contacted Ronnie Neill of MTAS.
Noting that 22 individuals applied for the position, Chesney said former Millington resident Ed Haley was among “five serious ones” who were actually interviewed.
The board voted unanimously on Jan 13 to employ Haley. But at a Jan. 27 special meeting, Chesney said he had rescinded his initial acceptance of the job offer for “really good personal reasons.”
On Monday night, Chesney said Haley’s “change of heart” allowed him and Neill to “go back to the drawing board” and look at the four other applicants.
“We found out that three of those had already taken positions,” he noted. “And we also had some calls from some other ones who were very interested.”
Chesney said that did not “pan out,” because neither he nor Neill felt “good about it.” So, he was ready to tell the board that he would have to start the process again.
But he got a telephone call from Mike Walker, president of the Tennessee City Management Association. After inquiring about the “status” of the search, Walker mentioned Dorsey.
“He wasn’t available when we were doing the recruiting,” Chesney recalled, “but he just recently became available.”
After they had a “two-to-three-hour” phone conversation, Chesney brought Dorsey to Millington a “couple of weeks ago.” They spent a full day together, and he was impressed with Dorsey’s “technical ability, personal relationship skills” and ability to be a city manager.
Because he is coming as a “long-term interim,” Chesney acknowledged that there will be “no guarantee.” But he and Mayor Terry Jones believe it is “better to go with” an interim manager who they know can “do a good job.”
Noting that Dorsey’s wife is a surgical nurse in Chattanooga, he said they will take this year to “contemplate moving” and determine what they can do.
If it does not work out, Chesney said, the city will not have to give Dorsey any severance pay. But if it does work out, “everybody wins.”
“In the meantime, you have time to keep the ball going,” he told the board members. “And he is certainly willing to do that.”
While noting that he has “enjoyed every minute” of his six months in the position, Chesney acknowledged that he has “mixed emotions,” because he has been impressed with how the board members have interacted with him.
“I go to each one of these people when I need them and collectively seek their wisdom,” he said. “I have a mayor who listens and backs me up. And I recognize Chris as someone with the personality and the relationship-building skill to keep that going after I’m gone.”
Dorsey began his new job Tuesday morning. Because most of his family is still in Memphis, he called it a “pleasure” to come back to the area and “be of service” to Millington.
He said all the board members know that public service is a “very noble profession.” Although it is something they “unselfishly” give their time to, he noted that it is occasionally under-appreciated.
“We’re not here to take the credit for things,” he concluded. “But we like to know that we can make a difference in the communities that we’re serving.”

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