Statesboro City Manager Charles Penny this week announced his appointment of two department heads, Human Resources Director Demetrius Bynes and Public Works and Engineering Director John Washington, filling vacancies.
Additionally, Penny received City Council authorization Tuesday to add two new jobs under his direct supervision at City Hall.
Bynes, who started work with the city Nov. 12, was previously Georgia Southern University’s director of talent acquisition. The talent acquisition unit, within the university’s larger human resources department, recruits candidates for various vacancies, including jobs in teaching and research. He worked for Georgia Southern a total of 13½ years, and before that was benefits and compensation administrator for the Beaufort County, South Carolina, government for four years.
Now as head of the city’s H.R. department, Bynes supervises two other full-time employees and with them will handle a range of human resources functions for Statesboro’s city workforce of a few more than 300 people.
“I’m excited about the new opportunity,” Bynes said Tuesday. “I look forward to working with the city manager, as well as the other leaders of our organization, to provide human resource services for this organization.”
He attained his bachelor’s degree in human resources and his Master of Business Administration both at Georgia Southern.
“We’re very pleased to have almost 18 years of experience coming to the city of Statesboro to run our human resources department. …,” Penny said during Tuesday’s council meeting. “ I’m very pleased to have him as part of our leadership team.”
The city H.R. director post had been vacant since former director Flavia Starling resigned effective Aug. 23 to take a job with an insurance firm.
In becoming the city’s director of public works in engineering, Washington was in effect promoted from within the organization. He had been hired to the department as city engineer effective June 1.
But the director’s post became vacant when Penny, who arrived as city manager July 1, appointed former Public Works and Engineering Director Jason Boyles to the permanent post of assistant city manager.
Washington, who was promoted Oct. 21 to head the Public Works and Engineering Department, has been a Statesboro resident for six years. He previously retired from Southern Nuclear Company, which had employed him at Plant Hatch in Baxley for more than five years.
He holds two bachelor’s degrees, one in civil engineering from Georgia Tech and the other in civil engineering technology from Southern Tech. Washington also has more than 30 years of experience and is a registered professional engineer and a registered land surveyor.
“I’ve since starting work for the city and wanted to provide my many years of experience in civil engineering, construction and surveying toward the city’s future growth,” Washington told the Statesboro Herald. “I’m all excited. There’s a lot of exciting things going on around town.”
In his new role he is administrator of one of the city’s largest departments, with more than 70 employees. Streets and parks, sanitation and stormwater divisions are included, as well as engineering.
For now, he is also filling the role of city engineer.
“He brings a wealth of experience in engineering and public works … and he’s a great addition to our team,” Penny said Tuesday.
The city manager has authority to fill almost any staff vacancies, so Penny did not need approval from the mayor and council for these appointments.
Two new posts
However, he does need authorization from the elected officials to create new positions. The council unanimously approved his request Tuesday to create the jobs of public information officer and assistant to the city manager, which is not the same as an assistant city manager.
Penny noted that, when he arrived as city manager, there were positions for two assistant city managers. Boyles had continued as public works and engineering director while serving as one of two interim assistant city managers appointed by former City Manager Randy Wetmore in December 2018, and while serving as interim city manager for one month before Penny arrived on the job July 1.
Wetmore’s other interim assistant city manager, former Planning and Development Director Frank Neal, had resigned in June and is now town administrator in Thunderbolt, adjacent to Savanah.
Penny designated Boyles as Statesboro’s only assistant city manager, and explained to the council Tuesday that he would split the funding for the other assistant manager between the two positions.
“We need a public information officer that can ensure that we are keeping the public abreast of things that are going on within the city, the city organization and the city itself, keeping the community clearly informed, ensuring that our websites are kept up to date, making sure that we are monitoring social media and we are on social media,” Penny said.
He said the staff would begin advertising for the public information officer as soon as authorized.
But Penny plans to wait until the end of the first quarter of 2020 to fill the other position, the assistant to the city manager,
This assistant “would help the city manager help the council,” he said. “There are times that we have to do research and right now I have to look throughout the organization to find someone to do research.”
Additionally, the assistant would do special projects and be another staff member who could be assigned to some of the city’s boards and commissions, Penny added.
In a memo to the mayor and council, Penny cited estimated minimum starting salaries of $58,909 for the public information officer and $53,368 for the assistant to the city manager. With benefits added, the total cost of $140,357 would be comparable to that for one assistant city manager, he stated.
On a motion from Councilman Jeff Yawn, the council approved the new positions 5-0, adding that the second assistant city manager position is eliminated.