Luckily for her, she wasn’t unemployed long; the whole reason she lost her job on July 26 is because she was promoted to assistant town manager moments later.
A Pisgah High School graduate, Owens attended Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and then Montreat College before spending 17 years in the healthcare industry.
Prior to being hired as the Waynesville town clerk, she served as the executive assistant to the deputy clerk of Haywood County; last December, she earned her master’s degree in Public Administration from Western Carolina University.
“When I switched from health care to local government, I was surprisingly happy with how they were similar but different, because I enjoy statutes and regulations and research, and things like that,” said Owens. “I’m very people-oriented. I consider myself to be very good at customer service, very customer-oriented.”
Although Owens hasn’t been with the town long, she’s already witnessed her fair share of significant events and is bound to see more.
“We were hoping Lake Junaluska would be merged in [to the Town of Waynesville],” she said. “Unfortunately that didn’t happen. We lost a town manager, and we’re doing a town manager search right now.”
Former Waynesville Town Manager Marcy Onieal was abruptly fired in January after the November election changed the make-up of the town board. Mike Morgan, former Weaverville town manager, was hired in February on an interim basis.
“It’s nice to be in this position and have the opportunity to watch Mike Morgan, and to have learned from Marcy when she was here,” Owens said.
Owens plans to put that experience to good use; she says her career goal is to one day become a town manager herself.
In the meantime, she’s looking forward to working with Waynesville’s yet-to-be-named new town manager, who’s expected to be on the job sometime soon.
“I have at least two and one-half years of historical background that I can offer, and I have experience as the clerk, so if they need anything researched that’s not within my tenure I’m very able to do that,” she said. “I want to be a resource for the new town manager coming in, and I want to work together with them to make Waynesville better, because I know we’ve always got things we can do to continue to advance.”
Mayor Gavin Brown said on June 27 that the town manager search was down to two candidates and that an offer could come as soon as mid-July with the goal of having someone in place by mid-August.
However, since that time a third candidate has been interviewed, which could mean alderman were unable to come to a consensus on the original two finalists.