COVINGTON — Anthony Avery was appointed director of the Newton County Recreation Commission Monday night.
Avery has worked for the Recreation Commission for the past 18 years and has served as assistant director for 13 years. He has assumed the director’s responsibilities since former Director Tommy Hailey retired in May.
“I’m just glad,” Avery said following the vote. “It’s something that I’ve worked hard for; it’s just been a long process, sometimes draining.”
Avery was appointed by a vote of 6 to 3 at a special called meeting of the Recreation Commission board of directors at Turner Lake Complex headquarters. The vote came following an approximately 45-minute-long closed session.
Those in favor were Andre Cooper, Chairman Danny Stone, Ronny Brannen, Hugh Burnett, J.C. Henderson and Flemmie Pitts. The three opposing votes were Tim Fleming, Julius Hayes and Kay Strickland.
“Anthony is well qualified. He’s got the support of the board and I’ll do everything in my power to make him successful,” said Hayes in a follow-up interview Tuesday. “It never was about Anthony; it was about, I, from the beginning, advocated going outside just for fresh ideas and fresh blood. That’s what I was committed to. Now that he’s been elected, I’ll be fully behind Anthony.”
The commission opted to open the position only to county employees and received three applications, according to Stone. The other applicants were Recreation Commission Facilities Manager Matt Taylor and Pamela Maxwell, business license and code enforcement coordinator in the Department of Development Services.
“We had three good candidates apply for the position, any one of the three could have filled the position,” said Stone. “However, based on the interview, his application and the other information provided by the county, it became apparent to me that Anthony’s skills, work experience and education made him the better choice to assume the duties of director for the Recreation Commission.”
Stone said the Recreation Commission charter gives the commission the authority to appoint the director. However, since the Board of Commissioners controls the commission’s budget, the matter will go before the BOC, he said. Stone said he’s not certain if the BOC will have a formal vote. BOC Chairman Keith Ellis could not be reached for comment on whether he expects the board to vote.
According to Fleming, “At the end of the day, we are appointed by the Board of Commissioners. We as appointees answer to the Board of Commissioners. They have the authority to appoint us and reappoint us. They also have the authority to write the Recreation Commission budget and appropriate funds, so at the end of the day, if they want to have the final say on this, it is in their authority to have a say.”
Fleming said he believes it’s the will of the majority of the BOC and of citizens who have given him feedback to search outside the county for a director.
“The reason I voted the way I did last night, I had made a commitment to the commissioner, Levie Maddox, who appointed me, who asked us to support going outside and doing a broader search,” he said.
Fleming said there are “perceived issues out there, internal issues” with the Recreation Commission that need to be addressed, but would not elaborate.