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Commissioners initiate interim administrator search

SPRINGFIELD — Standing on a stack of experience, Chris Hutchings made the case that he would be an effective interim county administrator.

The Effingham County Board of Commissioners interviewed Hutchings at the County Administrative Complex on Oct. 24. It is searching for someone to handle daily county operations until a permanent successor to Steve Davis is named.

Citing health reasons, Davis resigned a couple of weeks ago after serving as administrator for just over one year.

Hutchings, a Sandersville native, recited his list of accomplishments while filling similar manager or administrator roles recently in Charlton County, Jefferson County and Twiggs County. 

“... I’ve kind of got a financial, cost-reduction kind of focus — a process-improvement kind of focus,” Hutchings said.

Hutchings, recently elected chairman of the Washington County Board of Education, spent most of his career in the kaolin industry before retiring in 2009. 

Subsequently, after a brief stint as a consultant with a Perry water tank company, Hutchings was named county administrator in Washington County. He kept that job for six years before retiring a second time.

Since then, he has returned to consulting for mining companies, including Amherst, his longtime employer.

Hutchings’ first stint as an interim county administrator occurred in Charlton County.

“We went through a process of hiring a permanent administrator with the commissioners there,” Hutchings said. “The same thing happened in Jefferson County a little bit later that year.”

In a four-month span, helped Jefferson County commissioners establish a budget and hire a permanent administrator.

Hutchings did likewise in Twiggs County. He was also on the interview team that led to the hiring of his replacement in Washington County.

“I’ve got a list of interview questions I can reach and get anytime,” he said.

Hutchings touted his cost-cutting efforts throughout his interview, including in the area of health insurance. He said Washington County’s reserve fund grew from $6 million to $8 million during the height of the Great Recession.

In addition, Hutchings has managed road projects, the construction of a jail, the relocation of an EMS station and the installation of a new payroll system. He has experience acquiring state grants for counties, too.

District 1 Commissioner Forrest Floyd asked Hutchings about his management style.

“I get involved,” Hutchings said. “I hope I’m not a micromanager but I will intervene when I see something wrong.”

Hutchings, who told the commissioners that he can start immediately, agreed with Floyd’s assertion that the county has “a great staff.”