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Haywood hires interim county manager

Haywood County native Joel R. Mashburn has been selected to serve as interim county manager following the recent and unexpected departure of former County Manager Ira Dove on Oct. 3.

“It’s hard to express just how exciting it is,” Mashburn said of the opportunity to serve his home county after almost four decades in local government.

Mashburn is a graduate of Waynesville High School’s class of 1964 and earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Western Carolina University, where he also acquired a master’s degree in public administration; Mashburn has also completed coursework in county administration at the UNC School of Government.

His professional career consists of a lengthy stint in local government; he served as Macon County manager from 1974 to 1979, Henderson County administrator from 1979 to 1984, Greenville (S.C.) County administrator from 1984 to 1988, and Iredell County manager for 23 years, from 1988 to his retirement in 2011.

“He’s what I’d like to be when I grow up,” said Waynesville Town Manager Rob Hites. “He really is one of my heroes.”

Hites served as town manager in Statesville and overlapped with Mashburn when Mashburn was with Iredell County.

“Joel is one of the most respected people in our profession,” Hites continued. “I just can’t say enough about the board’s wisdom in selecting him. He brings a tremendous amount of experience to the position.”

A resolution passed by the Henderson County Board of Commissioners on April 20, 2011, just prior to his June 30 retirement recognized Mashburn for a host of contributions he made while there, including adoption of the first flood ordinance, a bond issue for a school and a hospital and implementation of the county’s first land use plan.

Since then, he hasn’t let his skills get rusty — Mashburn accepted a position as the interim town manager of Catawba in 2013, which he held until 2015.

Mashburn is expected to begin work in Haywood County once a contract is adopted by Haywood Commissioners, probably Nov. 6.

Although details of the contract were still being worked out at press time — after commissioners in closed session voted to hire him Oct. 16 — Mashburn will be part-time and work no more than 1,000 hours per calendar year.

Figures weren’t immediately available, but speculation is he’ll earn about $60 an hour.

He’ll be paid hourly and won’t receive benefits, but will be reimbursed for mileage and travel costs, and possibly be issued a county-owned cell phone as well; Mashburn will work no more than 30 hours a week on average, so as not to affect his current retirement benefits.

Although no term of employment had been discussed, Mashburn will not only help the county carry on the day-to-day business of administration but will also likely assist in the search for his permanent replacement.

“That was discussed, and to the extent that the commissioners want me involved, I’d love to be,” Mashburn said, adding that he had performed such duties in the past and was “more than willing” to do so here.

“He’s so well respected,” Hites said, “that he’ll probably help draw some very talented applicants to the permanent position.”

Mashburn received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine — the state’s highest civilian honor — in March, 2001; his brother, James, currently serves as an alderman in the town of Clyde.


June Ray’s replacement selected

Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Brad Letts has selected Hunter Plemmons, a 34-year-old native of Waynesville, as the next Clerk of Superior Court in Haywood County.

Tuscola grad and N.C. State alum Plemmons is currently an attorney with the Aceto law firm in Asheville, which concentrates on business, charitable and religious organizations, commercial and real property transactions, trusts, estates, intellectual property, arbitration and mediation.

He replaces Ray, who recently announced her departure after 15 years; Ray will take a similar position for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Plemmons will, if he so desires, have to defend his appointment in the 2018 election that would have marked the expiration of Ray’s term.

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