Mike Anthony, director of the Macon-Bibb County Parks and Recreation Department for more than a decade and a jack-of-many-trades in both the Jack Ellis and Robert Reichert administrations, plans to retire from the city in January.
Macon Chief Administrative Officer Thomas Thomas announced the retirement to City Council members Friday in a brief e-mail. Reichert said he understands that Anthony wants to “slow down and do things of his own choosing on his (horse) ranch up in Tennessee, I believe it is.”
“I have nothing but positive comments about Mike Anthony,” Reichert said. “We wish him well.”
Attempts to reach Anthony on Wednesday were not successful. He was out of town attending the Recreation and Park Association’s annual conference, according to the parks and recreation department.
Anthony became parks and recreation director in 1997 under then-Mayor Jim Marshall. Twice under Ellis he was named the mayor’s interim chief administrative officer, a position he held for much of Reichert’s first year in office. He also served as interim airports director and interim finance director for the city.
“He was a bridge between the last administration and this one,” Reichert said. “He knew where a lot of the pieces and parts were that we could pull out and get going.”
Anthony’s first stint as CAO came in 2003, seven months after he fought off a potentially deadly case of bacterial meningitis that hospitalized him for weeks. The second came in 2006, when Ellis switched from then-interim CAO Regina McDuffie back to Anthony, who had been heading the parks department again in the interim.
Anthony also stood in as Ellis’ airports director after the Federal Aviation Administration threatened to ground flights out of Macon over regulation shortcomings. He, with help from other city officials, kept the airport open while also doubling as head of the parks department. He helped bring in TBI airport management and negotiate a contract for the company to manage the city’s two airports.
As interim finance director, Anthony hired much of the current office staff “with whom we are very pleased,” Reichert said.
As parks and recreation director, Anthony also was heavily involved in the development of the riverwalk along the Ocmulgee River.
Anthony also is a retired colonel with a 29-year military career.
“He was a pinch hitter,” Councilman James Timley said Wednesday. “When things didn’t go (well) or somebody left, he would always fill in.”
“I thought he did a good job,” said Timley, the council’s president pro tem. “I didn’t really have any problem with him.”
Reichert will make a choice about a new parks director, but the council must confirm that choice to formalize the position. An advertisement seeking to fill the job is posted on the city’s Web site.
Information from The Telegraph’s archives was used in this report. To contact writer Travis Fain, call 744-4213.