Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 22, 2011

By Karissa Minn
EAST SPENCER — The new administrator of East Spencer says he’s looking forward to helping the town focus its goals and overcome its challenges.
Mayor John Cowan and the East Spencer Board of Aldermen named Macon Sammons Jr. as the new town administrator on Oct. 5.
“Considering his extensive education and experience in public management, in my opinion Mr. Sammons will be a major asset for the Town of East Spencer,” Cowan said in a written statement.
Sammons has more than 30 years of experience as a county and city manager, mostly in North Carolina and Virginia.
He said he decided to come to East Spencer because he saw a “series of challenges” that he wants to help the town overcome.
“East Spencer certainly has opportunities,” Sammons said. “Most of them involve clearing hurdles that take some effort and collaboration between the board and staff.”
Each community has its own unique challenges, he said, and East Spencer is no different. But there are common principles that can be applied to any town or county.
First, Sammons has asked that the board set up a planning retreat to look toward the future. He said board members liked the idea and talked about scheduling the retreat for March.
“When a board sets goals, objectives and priorities, it’s like giving a roadmap to the manager,” Sammons said. “It’s really, really helpful to know where the consensus is and… which things are important and which things are not.”
He said he knows already that economic development and community redevelopment are significant needs for the town. Sammons hopes to address dilapidated buildings in East Spencer and encourage businesses to locate there.
“I anticipate that we will be seeking to partner with our neighbors in a variety of ways,” he said. “I’m a big believer that cooperation and partnerships are key, especially in today’s world of economic downturn.”
Working with the county shouldn’t be a problem for Sammons, he said, because he already knows Rowan County Manager Gary Page. The two used to head up neighboring counties.
Sammons also wants to encourage partnerships within East Spencer, which he said is important in a small town with limited staff.
East Spencer currently uses a mayor-council form of government. The board of aldermen makes both policy and management decisions, and the town administrator’s authority and duties are set by the board, not state law as with a manager.
Sammons said he is most familiar with a council-manager form of government, in which the town manager hires and fires employees, prepares the budget and supervises all town departments.
But his role in East Spencer to carry out the board’s will and policies, Sammons said. He said he wants to find out from town officials what their priorities and objectives are.
“Developing a clear picture of what we want for East Spencer is key,” Sammons said. “We’ve got to allow a little bit of time for that to evolve, and I’ll look mostly to the board of aldermen to paint that picture for me.”
He said he wants to work with the board to help improve the town’s finances, its communication and its local community.
By the time Sammons leaves the town, he said, he hopes East Spencer residents “will feel a measure of added pride… and a sense of our future potential.”
East Spencer aldermen said they’re eager to work with Sammons and see how his knowledge can help the town progress.
“I think the town can really benefit from the experience that Mr. Sammons brings to us,” Mayor Pro Tem Phronice Johnson said in a written statement.
Sammons served as county manager of Surry County for about five years and most recently as the interim general manager of the Handy Sanitary District in Davidson County. Earlier, he served as manager of Goochland, Allegany, Franklin and Fluvanna Counties in Virginia and has had management positions at St. Mary’s, Ga., Deerfield Beach, Fla., and Lynchburg, Va.
He holds a liberal arts degree from the College of William & Mary and a master’s degree in planning and management from Virginia Tech.
Sammons lives in Mount Airy with his wife Candace and has a daughter Katherine in Nashville. He is Episcopalian and lists history, reading, cycling and traveling among his hobbies and interests.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.
Facebook: Karissa.SalisburyPost