Bibb County names interim animal shelter director

Bibb County has announced a new interim director for its animal shelter, the latest in a series of staffing changes.

Deborah Biggs, who most recently worked in Nassau County, Fla., will become the interim animal welfare director beginning June 25. Bibb County will take over Macon’s animal shelter in a transition scheduled for July 1.

Biggs is scheduled to work for 60 days and won’t be a candidate for the permanent director’s position, county officials have said.

Bibb County Chief Administrative Officer Steve Layson said Biggs has worked in challenging job situations before.

“She is pretty versed in some pretty adverse situations,” Layson said.

Animal welfare organizations have rallied behind Van VanDeWalker, who has been running the agency’s day-to-day operations since the agency’s director, Jim Johnson, was ousted from full responsibilities after criticism of harsh shelter conditions. VanDeWalker was also the interim director before an administrative law judge ordered Johnson rehired in January. Johnson had been fired in August 2011 after a city audit found more than $18,000 missing. No charges were filed.

Layson said he’s still using VanDeWalker as his “go-to guy” and expected VanDeWalker would help Biggs get started in the job. But as a self-starter, Biggs should be able to run the shelter and help in other ways, such as drafting policies for the department when it comes under Bibb County control, he said.

In a Bibb County statement, Biggs indicated her experience as a troubleshooter could be an asset.

“Every organization for which I have worked since 1987 was in a state of disarray for various reasons -- employee embezzlement, director positions vacant for long periods of time, misappropriation of funds, issues with animal rights/welfare advocates, etc.,” she wrote.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.