L'burg city manager resigns

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

Lewisburg's City Manager Tommy Engram hand delivered a resignation letter to Mayor Barbara Woods at her home Friday afternoon.

"I really don't know what happened," said Woods during a telephone interview Monday, while she was vacationing in Florida. "I wish I knew."

"Tommy (Engram) said there were several councilmen who disagreed with him," Woods continued. "He thought it (resigning) was the best thing to do. He said, 'I've been asked to do things I just can't do.'"

Woods said staff at City Hall knew some of the councilmen had been in to see Engram in the days before his resignation, but did not know what had been discussed.

When reached by telephone, Engram said, "My termination is at her (the mayor's) pleasure," but added the mayor had not asked him to resign. He had no comment as to why he resigned.

Engram will be back in Lewisburg this week to clean out his desk and move the rest of his belongings from the city-owned house in Lone Oak Cemetery where he lived.

He also plans to come back later this month, when Woods has returned from vacation, to brief her on programs that are in progress. These include revitalization of the square, WiFi on the square, grants, Jones Park, and "a whole list of items like that, that we've been doing to make the town more attractive to industry and make it more fun for the people who live there," Engram said.

Councilman Steve Thomas ran into Engram in Lewisburg Friday and heard about the resignation then, so he was the first councilman to know.

"Three managers in three years and a big election in May - the timing could be better," Thomas said. "I didn't have any problems with Dr. Engram's performance," he continued. "I'm not going to have a lot to say about it."

In Thomas's view, Engram was leading the city in a positive direction, but he acknowleged there were personality conflicts, though he was surprised by the resignation.

Woods informed other councilmen by telephone over the weekend.

"He joked about how he didn't know how long he'd be here," said Councilman Hershel Davis, adding, "I sure wasn't expecting this. I didn't think we had a problem. I don't know a whole lot about it."

Councilman Ronald McRady agreed Engram's resignation was a surprise.

McRady has spoken up and voted against some of Engram's proposals, but said, "It wasn't anything personal. It was what I felt was in the best interest of the city."

"It took me by surprise," agreed Councilman Odie Whitehead Jr. "The first time I knew about it was when the mayor called me."

Councilman Robin Minor also heard about the resignation over the weekend, and said he was surprised "to a certain degree."

"Everybody doesn't agree on everything," Minor said.

The mayor was regretful, as she prepared to resume the role of acting city manager.

"I liked his presentation of things," Woods said. "It looked like we were going to make some progress."

Minor said he thought the mayor would call a council meeting when she got back to town, to start the process of finding a new city manager. In his opinion, however, the final choice should be left until after the May election, so that the new councilmen can choose the man - or woman - they will be working with.

Meanwhile, Engram is back home in Cedartown, Ga., writing an article for American Town & City.

He plans to do "something in the same field," but declined to be more specific. "I'm not at liberty to say anything at this time," Engram said, citing professional standards.

He started as Lewisburg City Manager on July 1, 2012. Engram was interim city manager in Cedartown about three years ago and after that he was director of the downtown development authority there until he got the job in Lewisburg.

Tribune Senior Staff Writer Clint Confehr contributed to this story.