By Austin Bishop

Kemper County Messenger

Kemper County has a new county administrator. In mid-October the board of supervisors voted 3-2 to hire Andrew Smith after interviewing five candidates for the job.

Kemper County Board of Supervisors president Johnny Whitsett said a vote was taken on another candidate for the position, but the motion did not pass. District 5 Supervisor Chris Cole then made the motion to hire Smith. After a second by District 1 Supervisor Pat Granger the motion passed 3-2 with Cole, Granger and Whitsett all voting in favor of the hiring and District 3 Supervisor John Paul Darnell and District 4 Supervisor Mike Luke voting against.

Smith was hired on Oct. 17 at a salary of $60,000 annually.

"He came in and had a great interview," Whitsett said of Smith. "We think he has what it takes to move the county forward."

Whitsett said to his knowledge Smith had not worked in a county administrator position before, but felt he had the knowledge and ability to get the work done.

Kemper County, which operates under the unit system that requires a county administrator, has been looking for a candidate to fill the position for the past 18 months.

"This March would have made two years," Whitsett said. "We are glad to get this taken care off."

Smith, who has experience working with city planning in Natchez, Jackson, Pine Bluff, Ark., and Muncie, Indiana, said he was excited to get the opportunity to work in Kemper County.

"Given the catalyst that Mississippi Power Company has provided, there is nothing that can't be achieved in Kemper County," Smith said.

Smith has been managing his own private company since 2006, which landed him in DeKalb where he worked with a home grant program dealing with home renovation. When he heard about the job opportunity, he readily applied.

"I was just very impressed with the kindness of the people," he said. "It was something I never forgot."