New city manager on the job

Friday, March 4, 2011

Lewisburg's new city manager might best be known recently as an advocate for Marshall County High School athletics, or a former banker who's seen bank names come and go.

But the man's most recent previous wage-paying job -- substitute teacher at MCHS -- was a position that, in broad terms, is similar to his first job after graduating from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

David Orr was an instructor with the Tennessee Department of Correction from late 1969 through most of September 1971 "teaching teenage boys at what they used to call a reform school," the new city manager said a few days before he started his City Hall job.

"It was good experience for me, but it was a sad set of circumstances for them," he said of the boys age 14-16 who'd "been given chances after chances by judges and very little parental support."

Since then, he's realized that one of his students "ended up killing people" and others went to the penitentiary.

The economy during the late 1960s and early '70s made it hard to get a job and Orr wanted to come back to the Nashville area, rather than work at Knoxville, so the state job had that advantages and surely offered some adventure for a young man.

He's since graduated from Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge in 1991, and worked in banking and other high profile businesses in Lewisburg. As a result, Police Chief Chuck Forbis could write to Mayor Barbara Woods in his background report on Orr that while his background doesn't include a great deal of government experience, "it appears that members of the council have sufficient knowledge of and/or experience with Orr to be familiar with his background."

Orr has more than 15 years of banking experience at First National Bank, Bank of America and First Famrers and Merchants Bank.

He sees his first responsibilities at City Hall as carrying out policies as set forth by the council. The city manager here is also the personnel director to hire and dismiss employees.

Woods and other members of the council have indicated they'd like a codes and stormwater director hired.

The council is going to be hiring a treasurer, as Connie Edde, the city's treasurer is retiring.

Asked about the 3-2 vote by the council to hire him, Orr replied that he has no concern about whether he can work with all member of the council. He commented that councilmen voted as they saw fit.

One of them, Councilman Quinn Brandon Stewart, voted for another applicant. She had previously announced she would not be running for re-election in May.

As for having five bosses -- since the city manager reports to the councilmen -- Orr said, "Every bank has a board of directors, so as an officer of the bank, you carry out their directives and this is going to be a similar situation."

Orr started Tuesday. He's already attended a special called council meeting and workshop and on Tuesday night, he will be at the mayor's right hand when the council meets for its regularly scheduled monthly meeting.