Macon-Bibb Commissioners confirm remaining department heads

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Tonight’s Macon-Bibb Commissioners meeting was a lively one–and the Animal Welfare Director’s position was on most of the crowd’s mind.

The Commissioners approved the final additions to the recommendations for department heads this evening.

Van Vandewalker was let down.

“Disappointment. On a number of fronts but most important, 10 dogs killed today…I think it’s politics I mean I really do,” said Vandewalker.

Mayor Robert Reichert nominated Sarah Tenon for Animal Welfare Director, despite strong support from some green-clad friends of Vandewalker.

“We strongly believe as a community of animal lovers that Van is the definitely the best person to head up the animal control position,” said supporter Lucia Carr.

But he won’t be in that position.

The commissioners voted 7-1 in favor of Tenon’s appointment.

Tenon wasn’t at the meeting tonight, but Commissioner Gary Bechtel felt she was a strong choice.

“I found her job at the shelter under my time at the County commission,” said Bechtel. “She did a good job at cleaning up the shelter. Her first priority was public safety, which we asked her to do, we felt she did a job on that.”

Many people at the commission meeting accuse Tenon of running a high-kill shelter.

“I know enough to know that you don’t know much about it,” said Bechtel. “Because that’s a relative term. It’s one that’s been thrown out in the community and a number of people including the media has bought in the phrase high kill, and has no way to define it.”

The euthanasia rate refers to the number of animals euthanized out of the total number of animals at the shelter.

“The rates of euthanasia are too high, I think we all agree on that. But I don’t consider the facility high kill like others claim it to be,” said Bechtel.

Bechtel was forthright, he believes Tenon is the right candidate to lead the shelter.

“Yes, and six others did as well,” said Bechtel.

Commissioner Mallory Jones was the lone vote in favor of reconsidering.

Prior to the vote, commissioners received hundreds of emails in favor of either Tenon or Vandewalker.

More than 60 supporters wearing green filed into the commission chambers hoping to sway the Commissioner’s vote their way.

On the April 1st meeting, Reichert recommended Vandewalker, but after the Commissioners voted the recommendation down with a 6-3 vote, Reichert named Tenon his recommendation Wednesday evening.

The Mayor said Tenon was at some job-related training and was not present at the meeting Wednesday.

She was unavailable for comment.

Also at the meeting, Dr. James Bumpus was confirmed as Office of Small Business Affairs Director, and Steve Pettis was confirmed as Public Works Director.

“I’m humbly honored to have been nominated by the Mayor, appointed and confirmed by the commissioners this evening,” said Bumpus. “I’m very excited about having the opportunity to serve the community in this way.”

Pettis felt the same way.

“I’m very pleased to be nominated by the mayor to run the combined Bibb County and City of Macon Public Works Department,” said Pettis. “It’s a monumental task putting both very large departments together, but we’ve got some good people to do it.”

Commissioner Bechtel and Commissioner Mallory Jones said they supported both Bumpus and Pettis as well.

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