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Jock Connell hired again as interim head of Hall County
Outgoing administrator Randy Knighton taking job in Stockbridge
Jock Connell 2017.jpg

Jock Connell will once again work as interim administrator for Hall County.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted on Thursday to hire Connell, a former manager of Gwinnett County, to cover county operations while they find a replacement for outgoing administrator Randy Knighton.

Knighton gave his letter of resignation on Tuesday, and he plans to stay on for another few weeks before taking another job as the manager of the city of Stockbridge in Henry County south of Atlanta.

Commissioners heaped praise on Knighton during their voting meeting on Thursday.

Connell previously worked as interim administrator in 2011, when he was brought in after Charley Nix was forced to resign from Hall County’s top job.

Connell spent more than 23 years working for Gwinnett County as the area’s economy and population exploded, growing from a community of less than 300,000 people to more than 1 million today.

Hall County commissioners said Connell has the needed experience to manage their government as the area sees its own population and economic booms.

“We’re one of the fastest-growing communities in the country and live next door to two of the fastest-growing,” said Commissioner Scott Gibbs, who offered the motion to hire Connell.

Commission Chairman Richard Higgins said they needed “somebody who knows the pitfalls” of the rapid growth in Gwinnett.

With the interim administrator placed, commissioners aren’t in any hurry to find a permanent replacement for Knighton. Gibbs and Higgins said they hope to have a new administrator hired at least before the next fiscal year, which begins in July.

In the meantime, commissioners have some decisions to make.

“We’ve talked about changing the structure at the top,” Higgins said on Thursday.

Commissioners are discussing whether to add another assistant administrator position at the top of the county. Knighton has had one assistant, Marty Nix.

“They come from very different backgrounds,” said Hall County spokeswoman Katie Crumley. “Randy came up from the planning side and Marty came up through the public safety side. Oftentimes they split (duties) based on their areas.”

Nix worked as the director of the Hall County 911 system before being promoted into his current job.

A new assistant administrator could allow for more division of management duties at the top of the county.

Connell himself has worked on a few specific areas. He’s stayed on with the county on a contract basis working on issues ranging from special local option sales tax programs to the service delivery agreement hammered out between the county and its municipalities.

“Jock was always an asset for Randy and Marty,” Gibbs said.

Connell retired from Gwinnett County in 2009. He began his career in local government in 1986.

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