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Toms steps down
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The city of Rincon will start its search soon for a new city manager.

Rincon City Manager Don Toms tendered his resignation, effective Jan. 9, at a special called meeting Monday night.

“It just seemed like the right thing to do,” Toms said. “(Monday) night was a difficult time for both parties but a productive meeting.

“This has been a very difficult decision. A lot of the council members were reluctant to take (the letter of resignation).”

Mayor Ken Lee praised Toms for his work with the city in just over a year.

“Don has been very good for the city,” he said. “He’s done some very good things. He’s accomplished a lot in the little over a year that he’s been here.”

Toms and Lee met with department heads and city personnel Tuesday morning to inform of Toms’ decision.

“Anytime there’s change and probably all the change we’ve gone through, the questions that have come up have been properly addressed,” Lee said. “Our folks understand what’s going on and what we’re going through. They’re as ready as we are to resolve some of these issues and get back to business as usual.”

Toms had been on administrative leave since Nov. 4. City council members voted to lift his suspension before accepting his resignation. But his suspension had nothing to do with his decision to leave, he said. Toms said some of the reasons he is leaving his position are personal.

“My family has suffered a high level of tragedy,” he said, without offering details. “It’s unfortunate it has come with a gray cloud around the city of Rincon. But Christmastime has made me think of relationships with my family and being closer to them.”

Though his dealings were limited with city department heads, Toms said the city functioned well during his leave, with department leaders working as a team and independently.

“I kind of prescribed to the philosophy of the one-minute manager,” Toms said.

Said Lee: “We’ve been very fortunate. We’ve got some qualified people and they have stepped up to the plate. They’ve been able to do their projects effectively. Nothing has stopped, not that there weren’t some questions.”

But between the council and the mayor, “we’ve been able to come up with answers and solutions,” Lee said.

During his administrative leave, Toms worked with the mayor and council.

“I wasn’t just sitting in the dark,” he said.

Lee also praised Toms’ ability and his people skills in repairing some of the frayed relationships between the city and other entities.

“Don has been a big part of that,” the mayor said. “There were issues with our own officials and with officials at the state level. We’ve been able to make significant improvement in those relationships. I think council has made more of an effort.”

Toms’ departure means Rincon has to begin a search for a city manager again. In its previous two searches, city council tapped the incumbent police chief to serve as interim manager. But the city also is looking for a new chief of its police force.

Lee said the city council hasn’t had an opportunity to discuss what to do but likely will take up the matter at Monday’s council meeting.

Toms began as city manager on Aug. 15, 2007. He was hired during a second search of city manager candidates after the initial search didn’t yield any prospects to the city council’s liking.

He previously had been city manager of Bowdon and also worked in the planning department of Newport News, Va., and for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

“We certainly don’t look forward to having to go through this process again,” Lee said. “It was laborious and time consuming the last time. We’ll take whatever time is necessary, and we’ll make the best decision we can make. Whatever time is required, that is exactly what we’ll do.”