By Bill Short
For the second time within the past year, the Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen has voted unanimously to employ former resident Ed Haley as the next city manager.
On a motion offered by Alderman Mike Caruthers and seconded by Alderman Hank Hawkins, board members took the action Monday night after concluding a brief public interview with Haley during a special called meeting.
Under the new City Charter, the board’s vote also waived the requirement that the city manager establish a residence in Millington within 90 days of appointment and maintain it for the duration of employment. Haley lives on Armour Road, which is in the city’s Reserve Annexation Area.
Mayor Terry Jones, City Attorney Charles Perkins and Interim City Manager Chris Dorsey are authorized to negotiate the details of a contract with Haley.
A former Millington alderman and member of the Municipal Airport Authority, Haley was the Millington Jaycees’ Person of the Year in 1968, ‘69 and ‘71. He also received the Millington Area Chamber of Commerce’s Person of the Year Award in 1971.
While serving in the Tennessee General Assembly for eight years as a state representative, Haley was named Legislator of the Year in 1994, ‘96 and ‘98.
A member of the Tennessee City Managers Association since 2003, he is currently employed as Arlington’s town superintendent.
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 board’s Sept. 3, 2013 meeting, Chesney requested that an opening for the permanent position be posted on the city’s Web site. Although 22 individuals applied for the position, Haley was among five “serious” ones who were actually interviewed.
During its Jan. 13, 2014 regular meeting, the board voted unanimously to employ Haley. But at a special called meeting two weeks later, Chesney said he had rescinded his initial acceptance of the job offer for “really good personal reasons.”
Because three of the other four applicants had already taken positions, Chesney was ready to tell the board that he would have to start the process again. But he got a telephone call from TCMA President Mike Walker, who mentioned Dorsey.
At their Dec. 8, 2014 regular meeting, board members voted to extend Dorsey’s contract for six months while they searched for his permanent replacement. The contract includes a “30-day pull-out” if a permanent city manager is found before then.
During Monday night’s interview, Caruthers asked Haley what his “rationale” is for coming to work in Millington. He replied that there is much “opportunity” as well as many “challenges.”
“After talking to some of you,” he noted, “I felt that, if I could help you to stabilize, move forward and get the city operating as a team like it should be, I’m willing to be a part of that.”
When Hawkins asked how soon he can begin his new job, Haley said his employment with Arlington “officially ends” on March 1. But because he has “plenty of time on the books to go,” he can start in Millington at any time.
Haley noted that he met earlier Monday with Arlington Mayor Mike Wissman, who asked him the same question.
“I told him it depended on whether I had a job in the morning or whether I was retired,” he said. “So, that’s kind of where I am.”
While acknowledging that Haley’s resume’ “speaks for itself,” Alderman Chris Ford said the board has been “down this road before” and has now “fast-forwarded” to the present time.
“Would you mind sharing what’s changed from the last time that you were here?” he asked. “Why is this a better fit for you and for us now?”
Haley said that, during the two weeks after his initial acceptance of the job offer, “some things” changed that were “personal.” There was also an “opportunity at work” that needed to be completed with “some jobs that we had going.”
“I got up at 4 o’clock that morning after wrestling that night with those issues and wrote a brief e-mail, which I sent to each of you,” he recalled. “And that’s the reason why.”
Haley said he tells everyone that there are “two things” he starts out with.
“Every day, I start out asking God for His guidance and direction,” he noted. “In the evening, I always thank Him for that day and ask for forgiveness for the mistakes I’ve made that day. And I make a lot of them.”
Because one man “can’t do anything,” Haley said the second thing involves working with a team of people.
“I believe that a house divided will fall,” he noted. “I think that’s true in the political arena, as well as working with a staff and employees.”