East Spencer names new manager
By Sarah Nagem
EAST SPENCER ó The town’s Board of Aldermen hired a new town administrator this week.
Donnie Jones of East Spencer took the reins as town administrator Wednesday.
The board was scheduled to vote to approve Jones at its regularly scheduled meeting Monday, but members convened early for a special meeting to approve the hire.
“We wanted to go ahead and start him out the first of the month,” Mayor Erma Jefferies said.
Jones, 58, said he has lived in East Spencer for more than 30 years. He decided to apply for the town administrator position after some residents encouraged him, he said.
“I thought I could be of help and service,” Jones said.
Jones owned a truck company for years and closed it about eight years ago. Since then, he said, he has been working as an insurance agent for Allstate.
Jones said he wants East Spencer to grow.
“We definitely need business growth, industrial growth,” he said.
An industrial park could boost the town’s economy, he said.
“I would like to see that we become an integral part of Rowan County again,” Jones said.
Past “internal problems” in East Spencer have caused a kind of separation, he said, but he did not want to elaborate.
Town leaders fired the last town administrator, Richard Hunter, in May. Jefferies said at the time that board members wanted someone who would be more accessible. Hunter had worked for the town four years but never moved to East Spencer, instead commuting three days a week from Durham.
Last March, the Local Government Commission outlined what it called “serious financial problems” in the town, including a general fund reserve made up largely of restricted federal road money.
Jones does not have experience working in government, but Jefferies has said Jones will participate in training courses offered by the School of Government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“I’m sure he’ll be able to catch on to that fairly quickly,” Jefferies said.
The town received 16 applications from people interested in the town administrator position, she said. The board interviewed four applicants.
The town is also in the process of selecting a new police chief. The board has interviewed candidates, but Jefferies said she’s not sure when board members will make a decision.
In the meantime, John Reep has been serving as interim chief.
In June, the town settled a lawsuit with former interim police chief, Lt. James Schmierer, who accused town leaders of discriminating against him. The lawsuit claimed several aldermen prevented Schmierer, who is white, from being promoted to chief in 2005. The town hired a black man at that time.
The board will meet at 6 p.m. Monday at 105 S. Long St.