Former Petersburg deputy city manager tapped to lead government in Atlanta suburb

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PETERSBURG — A former deputy city manager in Petersburg has been named the next city manager of an Atlanta suburb.

Darnetta Tyus, who was in charge of community affairs under Petersburg's previous city manager, will take over as the head of government for College Park, Georgia, a city of about 14,000 people just south of Atlanta. According to an announcement on the College Park website, Tyus will assume her new duties Feb. 21.

Darnetta Tyus
Darnetta Tyus

Between 2017 and 2021, Tyus was one of two deputies, along with Lionel Lyons, under then-City Manager Aretha Ferrell-Benavides who oversaw community affairs and development. When Ferrell-Benavides left for a city manager's job in Texas, she said she hope either Tyus or Lyons would be tapped to succeed her, but City Council opted to go with former Petersburg Police Chief Kenneth Miller on an interim basis while the search for a permanent replacement was conducted.

The city eventually chose Stuart Turille Jr. as the next city manager, but both Tyus and Lyons left Petersburg before Turille was hired.

Tyus, a Chicago native, came to Petersburg in 2017 from Washington, where she was a longtime D.C. city employee.

She will succeed interim City Manager Mercedes Miller, who was appointed to the post in January 2021.

"I am excited for the opportunity to serve with the Mayor, Council and city staff in making the city of College Park a model city to live, work and do great business in," Tyus said in a statement released by College Park.

College Park, Georgia, is a city of about 13,000 just south of Atlanta. It is home to the headquarters of Chick-fil-A as well as Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
College Park, Georgia, is a city of about 13,000 just south of Atlanta. It is home to the headquarters of Chick-fil-A as well as Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Tyus takes over in a city that was rocked last year by news of a former city human resources specialist arrested for stealing the identities of 11 former College Park employees from as far back as 2018. According to published reports in Atlanta, the suspect, LeShanda Mitchell, allegedly used the names of these employees to manipulate payroll records to make it appear they were still employed, then take the money earmarked for them and deposit it into three Green Dot bank accounts she controlled.

The total amount of reportedly embezzled money was close to $100,000. Those same published reports say Mitchell, who was in charge of the College Park payroll, has been charged with 32 counts of identity theft, computer forgery and money laundering. Mitchell resigned about a month before her arrest.

College Park is home to the headquarters of fast-food chain Chick-fil-A and Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, which has been recognized as the world's busiest airport for passenger travel.

According to the latest Census Bureau figures, College Park's overall population is around 80% Black. Its annual budget is around $131 million.

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Bill Atkinson (he/him/his) is daily news coach for USA TODAY's Southeast Region-Unified Central, which includes Virginia, West Virginia and central North Carolina. He is based in Petersburg, Virginia. Reach him at batkinson@progress-index.com.

This article originally appeared on The Progress-Index: Atlanta suburb taps former Petersburg official as next city manager

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