DSS Director Sandra Wilkes stepping down
By Karissa Minn
SALISBURY — Social Services Director Sandra Wilkes will retire at the end of this month, but that won’t be the last the department sees of her.
At its meeting Tuesday night, the Board of Social Services unanimously voted to allow Wilkes to come back as interim director of the Rowan County Social Services Department while it searches for a replacement.
“It’s been a privilege to serve the community in this capacity and to serve the staff,” Wilkes said after the meeting. “I appreciate the opportunity of returning to DSS to complete some activities that have been started and see those through to completion.“
County Commissioner Jim Sides, a member of the social services board, made the motion after Wilkes listed a number of upcoming tasks facing the interim director.
“This would leave somebody in the position who is intimately familiar with all of these issues,” Sides said, “and it would give us the necessary time to consider the process that we’ll use in locating a full-time director to take her place.“
The board also voted to name Budget Analyst Jane Johnson as interim director starting Nov. 1. Johnson would serve during the required 30-day waiting period before Wilkes can take the position.
Depending on the contract the board draws up, Wilkes will be given up to half pay and no benefits as interim director, said County Commissioner Carl Ford.
Ford, who also sits on the social services board, said after the meeting that he isn’t sure if she’ll be able to collect retirement benefits at the same time.
Wilkes has served as social services director for more than a decade.
“We’re going to miss her,” Ford said. “She’s been a fantastic director. Anytime anybody had a problem, they could call her and she took care of it.”
Board Chairwoman Lillian Morgan called a special meeting for Nov. 8 at 5:30 p.m. to discuss the next steps in the recruitment and selection process for the director.
The board’s next regular meeting is Oct. 25 at 5:30 p.m.
“We’re thankful for all that she has done for DSS and sad to see her go, but we’re glad that she’s going to be returning,” Morgan said after the meeting.
Wilkes gave credit to everyone in the department for its success.
“I’m proud of our agency and what it has accomplished,” she said. “It’s not because of anything I have done, but it’s because of our employees and their dedication and commitment to what they do.”
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.