City Manager Steve Horton was joined by his wife Mary, son Steven and granddaughter Taylor at a party in his honor at Covington City Hall.
COVINGTON -- Covington City Manager Steve Horton has been named Local Government Administrator of the Year by the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission.
Horton received the honor at an NGRC meeting held in Athens Thursday. Nominated by former City Manager Frank Turner, Horton's family, friends and co-workers kept the honor a surprise. Horton's second surprise of the day came after he arrived back at City Hall, where city employees met him with shouts of "Surprise!" and a cake.
"It's my honor. It always has been. I love you all," Horton said.
Horton has been a city employee for 35 years. He was appointed city manager in 2005 after having served as both public works director and deputy city manager.
Horton started his career with the city in the Covington Police Department, where he worked his way up through the ranks over the course of 12 years. In the late '80s, Horton decided to switch career gears, and went to work as a lineman in the city's Electric Department.
In hopes of moving into upper management with the city, Horton attended night school while working in the Electric Department, eventually earning an undergraduate degree in business from Mercer University.
In 1993 he switched jobs again, accepting a position as the city's safety risk manager.
Soon after, Police Chief Bob Moody left the force and recommended Horton serve as interim chief. Horton held that position for a year and a half, but left in 1997 to become the city's public works director.
The position "gave me the opportunity to learn more about government than I could have in any other aspect of the city," Horton previously told the Citizen.
It also gave him the opportunity to work with then City Manager Frank Turner on a daily basis. Turner "pulled me under his wing," Horton said. "He opened his mind and his heart to me and poured everything he could on me. I got up every day ready to come here ... Every day, I said what can I learn today, not only to make me a better employee, but to make a better community."
Turner eventually appointed Horton as deputy city manager and recommended Horton for the city manager's position upon his retirement.
Horton previously announced he would retire in July of this year but has agreed to stay on for up to a year longer.