Four years ago Kyle Hood was fresh out of grad school and about to take the first step in his career. It was a big step in both his professional and personal life, but one he been preparing for and knew he could handle if given the chance. That chance came in the form of an offer from the Upson County Board of Commissioners to serve in the position of County Manager; he accepted and has made Thomaston his home since 2008. However, the time has come for him to take another step in both areas of his life, which means he is relinquishing his post in Upson County to become the Town Manager for Tyrone, Georgia.
At the time he was hired, Hood was the youngest County Manager in the State of Georgia; a distinction that in some circles made Upson County stand out for positive reasons, yet drew criticism in others. The assumption was made that he would not be able to handle the daily tasks of overseeing the county government and would not be on the job for longer than six months.
“The fact that people had such low expectations for my appointment as County Manager has never escaped me,” said Hood when asked to describe how he felt hearing the negative comments over the years. “I never doubted that I could juggle both job performance and community involvement. The gauntlet was laid before me and I felt confident that the risks that had been taken on me would prove beneficial.”
And they have. During his time in Upson County, Hood has worked hard to help acquire grants for the county’s waterline expansion project and was a driving force behind building and renovating homes in the Lincoln Park community. Most notably, he has been a part of streamlining the budget process for Upson County during a time when the board was facing limited funding due to the economic downturn. Before his time, there had been many years the county failed to approve a budget, yet since he came on board he has helped to make the process more efficient and a budget has been passed every year. However for all the achievements that have been made, Hood feels that they were by no means all encompassing and he challenges the community to not let the advances of the past four years to have been made in vain. His hope is that Upson County will continue to grow and live up to its potential.
Although the past few years have had their share of ups and downs, Hood counts his time here as being advantageous in many aspects of his life and feels he will be leaving with many valuable experiences under his belt.
“I came here at such a young age with very little to my name both professionally and personally,” said Hood. “But I’m leaving with a wealth of knowledge and experiences and I think I am better person for it. I would not give up one minute that I have spent here if I thought it might cost me any amount of the faith, support and trust that I have been blessed with since becoming a member of Team Upson, the Mountain View family or the various clubs and organizations that proudly serve this community.”
The decision to take the job as Town Manager for Tyrone was not one that Hood took lightly, but after careful consideration he felt it was an opportunity he could not pass up. While he is excited about his new endeavor, there are also things he is going to miss about his time spent here, both in and outside of work.
“Professionally, I feel like Upson County has some of the finest employees a local government could have. I may have helped come up with the name ‘Team Upson,’ but they were doing that long before I ever got here. They are more than just co-workers to me. If my time here is considered even remotely productive I would venture to say the majority of credit goes to the staff; I am just a part of that.”
On a personal note, the thing he is going to miss the most are the friendships he has made along the way.
“I’ve made friends in the four years I’ve been here that I can honestly say are better than some I’ve had my entire life,” said Hood with a catch in his voice, “and I hate to think that my leaving will cut those relationships short. Thankfully with cell phones and technology it will be easier than ever for us to keep in touch.”
This week’s Board of Commissioners meeting marked the last one for Hood, as today is his last day serving as County Manager, and during it the entire board passed along their well wishes and gratitude for the work he has done while serving this community.
“Kyle came here as a young man in need of an opportunity and to be given a chance to show what he could do,” said County Attorney Ed Trice. “We were able to give that to him and he has certainly grown and matured into a great professional in his field. I have enjoyed working with him tremendously and I wish him all the best.”
Throughout his tenure, Hood has worked closely with Commission Chairman Maurice Raines and they have formed not only a close professional relationship, but a personal one as well. Raines echoed Trice’s sentiments,stating what he has loved more than anything is watching Hood develop into a leader, not only for this community, but one that is recognized throughout the state.
“I’m glad to know that Tyrone, Georgia is receiving an asset of our community,” said Raines. “I want you to know that you’ve done an outstanding job during the time I have worked with you. I thank you for your loyalty and support, but most of all I thank you for your friendship.”
During his final interview with The Thomaston Time, Hood was asked what would be the one thing he would want the members of this community to remember him by in the years to come and he stated it could not be narrowed down that easily.
“To me, it’s not as much about leaving an individual legacy, but hoping that the community has gotten as much out of me as I have gotten out of them. As I begin the next stage in my journey I leave with a mind full of knowledge and a heart full of memories. I cannot express just how grateful I am for all of it.”
There will be a drop-in farewell reception held for Kyle Hood today from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. at the Board of Commissioners office located in the Government Complex at 106 E. Lee Street. The community is invited to attend.