March 21, 2013

Varnell city manager steps down

Charles Oliver

— Varnell’s city manager, Jason Hall, has resigned just short of two years on the job.

In a letter Friday to the City Council, Hall resigned effective that day.

“After much consideration I have for personal reasons decided to pursue other opportunities. Working for this city has been a wonderful experience. I feel privileged to have been part of such a professional team and will miss all my colleagues,” he wrote.

Hall said Wednesday that he left to help his wife run a bakery she has started in LaFayette.

“It is doing fairly well, and I wanted to be able to help her in that business. I thought I’d got them to the point where they could finish City Hall. Now, I’m going to move into a different realm. I hope we can make a good career of this,” Hall said. “We left on pretty good terms, I believe.”

Mayor Dan Peeples said he was not shocked by Hall’s resignation.

“He has been driving 75 miles round trip every day to work from his home in LaFayette,” Peeples said.

Asked if there were any issues between the council and Hall, Peeples noted that the council is very conservative fiscally.

“We don’t like any spending. We try to watch every penny that is spent,” he said.

Peeples said there may have been some disagreements over spending. He didn’t provide specifics.

“But that happens in any government,” he said.

The city broke ground on a new 3,800-square-foot City Hall last fall next to the historic Varnell House. City offices have been in a modular unit for the past three years, since safety concerns caused the City Council to close the old City Hall.

Peeples says he has stepped in to oversee the construction of the new City Hall.

“I’ve been at City Hall every day, finding out where we are and what still needed to be done,” he said.

The council named Hall city manager in March 2011. He had worked for the city of Ringgold for the previous seven years as a code enforcement officer and flood plain manager.

While serving in Varnell, Hall supervised the completion of the renovation of the Varnell House and its transformation into a senior center.

Peeples said he expects the council will begin advertising for a new city manager within a few days. He said they hope to find someone local.

“That will probably save us some money on gas and fuel costs. We paid for his gas. We had a gas card for travel,” Peeples said.