For the second time in less than a year, the City of Bishop has a new administrator.
The City Council voted unanimously Monday to have Community Services Director Keith Caldwell step into the shoes of recently resigned Jim Southworth – albeit on an interim basis.
However, according to a press release sent out Tuesday morning, Caldwell’s temporary appointment – not to exceed six months – may be used as a trial run to gauge how well he’d handle the job on a permanent basis.
“During this period, the City Council will evaluate Keith’s performance, and will then address filling the City Administrator position on a permanent basis,” the press release states.
Caldwell will also be receiving compensation as the city administrator during the interim period.
He is taking over for Southworth, who sat in the Bishop manager’s chair for 10 months before he and the city mutually ended their professional relationship on Aug. 10. Southworth had been hired in December to replace 30-year City Administrator Rick Pucci.
Pucci retired to enter county government, winning a seat as Third District Supervisor in the March 2010 primary.
A native of Georgia, Caldwell was first hired by the city June 11, 2007. Having earned a degree in social work and a minor in recreation from La Grange University, Caldwell began his career as a recreational therapist in 1981. In an interview Friday, Caldwell explained the job took him to many different places, from a residential home for juvenile wards of the courts, to psychiatric units at hospitals. He served as athletic director for a school for students K-12 with learning and/or physical disabilities.
He would eventually take a job as the statewide program director for the U.S. Disabled Athletes Fund, Inc. He said he was inspired by working with these athletes in programs that ranged from wheelchair basketball to quadriplegic rugby. The job offered him many travel opportunities in Georgia and eventually nationwide.
He cut his teeth on the administrative side of municipal government as the athletic division administrator working for Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services.
Caldwell has been assistant administrator since 2009. He said Pucci had taken him under his wing at that time to primp him for the position. Caldwell said that the administrator’s position would be a “dream job” for him. During the next six months, he will be evaluated to see if he is the right fit for the job.
Caldwell is also a proud grandfather of two, Kailey and Jackson. He lives in Bishop with his wife, Vicki, and 18-year-old son.
Bishop Mayor Laura Smith said in the press release, “The City Council has every confidence that Keith will serve the people of the City of Bishop extremely well during his tenure as interim City Administrator.”