Writer: Alice Queen
Published November 9, 2022
The Rockdale Citizen
Two finalists have been named for the Covington city manager position — Emory "Tres" Thomas III, who is currently serving as interim city manager, and Lorri H. Smith, chief financial officer and comptroller for the Georgia Department of Public Safety.
According to Human Resources Director Paul Dailey, the two were selected as the top candidates from among 51 applications received by the city. Dailey said the city plans to conduct interviews next week and the City Council will make a decision by late November or early December.
The selected candidate will succeed Scott Andrews, who resigned in May to accept an assistant city manager position in Bakersfield, Calif. Andrews had been on the job in Covington since November 2019, following the retirement of Leigh Anne Knight. Thomas, the city's engineering director, was subsequently named to the interim position.
Smith, a resident of Rutledge, has more than 19 years of government management and accounting experience, having served as the chief operations officer under Gov. Brian Kemp from January 2019 to October 2020. In that role, she supervised and oversaw operations of the Transportation, Education, Natural Resources and Economic Development agency heads appointed by the governor, according to her resume.
In her current role with the Department of Public Safety, Smith supervises and oversees daily operations of the department's finance and budget divisions, maintains communications with the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget, the Georgia State Accounty Office and Georgia Department of Administrative Servides, among other duties.
Smith also served as assistant deputy secretary of state from April 2013 to January 2019 under Kemp. Prior to her work at the state level, Smith served as county manager and finance director for Jasper County from September 2010 to April 2013 and as accounting and finance manager for Newton County from September 2003 to September 2010.
Smith holds a master of accounting and finance management from Keller Graduate School of Management and a bachelor of arts in accounting from Georgia College and State University. She holds several certifications, including certified Public Manager, certified Local Government Finance Officer Level I and Level II, and certified State Government Finance and Budget Officer.
In his current role as interim city manager, Thomas is responsible for the city's budgeting and finance activities, supervises and supports city personnel with regard to city policies, administrative rules and guidelines; provides leadership and communication in council and executive meetings; responds to the needs of the public; and ensures the safety and maintenance of all city properties, among other responsiblities.
Much of Thomas's experience has been with the city of Covington, having moved up through the ranks from city engineer. Thomas, a Covington resident, served as engineering director for the city beginning in March 2022. In that role, according to his resume, Thomas performed complex supervisory, administrative and professional work in the planning, organizing, directing and supervising of the Engineering Department.
Thomas also served as the city's Planning and Development director for two years from 2020 to 2022, as the city's Public Works director from 2018 to 2020, as the assistant Public Works director from 2006 to 2018, and as the city's engineer from 2002 to 2006.
Prior to joining the city of Covington, Thomas worked as a project engineer for Pendergrass & Associates Inc. in Conyers, Brownfields Services Inc. in Roswell, Farmer Oil Inc. in Oxford, and Holston Companies in Chattanooga, Tenn.
He earned a bachelor of science degree in engineering at the University of Alabama and completed additional coursework at the University of Tennessee at Chattnooga and Southern Poly State University in Marietta.
He holds several certifications and registrations, including state of Georgia Board of Registration for Engineers and Land Surveyors, ASFPM Certified Floodplain Manager, GSWCC Level II Certified Design Professional, Government Management Development Program Certification and Public Works Certification from the Carl Vinson Institute of Government.