UCHRA names new director
Liz Engel Clark
Thursday, May 24, 2012
COOKEVILLE – There’s a new head of the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency, and his name is Luke Collins.
Collins, an Upper Cumberland Development District employee, the owner of Budget Termite and Pest Control in Celina and former mayor of Clay County, was the heavily favored choice among UCHRA’s policy council, received 24 of 29 votes, and the unanimous pick of UCHRA’s executive committee, who met back-to-back in special sessions Thursday afternoon. He was among three total candidates, including Billy Woodard and James Starnes, completing for the job.
The hire brings to close a nearly year-long saga in which the non-profit, that offers services like U-CARTS, CATS and Meals on Wheels, was without a more permanent director. UCHRA initially hired Ruth Ann Woolbright, a former Putnam County clerk, on a temporary basis last August, and made her the executive director in October when long-time executive director Phyllis Bennett was released from her duties.
Collins, during a brief 10-minute speech to UCHRA board members, promised to improve the agency's image and increase transparency. Like the other candidates, he said employee salaries would be under review, but that he'd first look at his own.
"It's not about the money, it's about serving people. Transparency will be the key," he said.
“I'll either retire here or I'll die here," he added. "This will be a dream job for me."
He also said he'd focus more on the outlying service centers, versus solely on the central office and career center in Cookeville.
“That's where the rubber meets the road," he said. “There's a lot of work to do."
Collins' start date has yet to be determined and his salary is expected to be between $80,000-$90,000.