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Town manager forced out in Sylva

Sylva leaders this week demanded their town manager resign, just more than two years after she was hired.

“This was not my decision,” Adrienne Isenhower, now Sylva’s former town manager, told The Smoky Mountain News on Tuesday.

Isenhower resigned Monday following a town board meeting, which included a closed session.

“I did submit my resignation, because they asked me to,” she said.

Some town board members initially told the public she had resigned for “personal reasons,” but Isenhower told The Smoky Mountain News she “wanted to clear the air.”

The board hired Isenhower to replace former Manager Jay Denton, who was fired in September 2008. Isenhower was a planner for the city of Lenoir. She has a master’s degree in public administration from Appalachian State University.

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Town board members were split 3-2 on the vote to hire her.

Town Commissioners Harold Hensley and Ray Lewis voted against hiring Isenhower, saying she lacked the experience necessary for the job, particularly in managing a budget. Neither Hensley nor Lewis had wanted to fire Denton in the first place. Town Commissioner Danny Allen, while he wasn’t on the board at the time, came out publicly against firing Denton and hiring Isenhower.

Hensley on Tuesday didn’t want to elaborate on reasons why Isenhower was asked to resign, or who exactly on the board wanted her to resign.

Instead, the commissioner said he wanted to make it clear that he “never had any problems whatsoever with Adrienne.”

“I wouldn’t want to say anything bad in the world about her — she did whatever was asked,” Hensley said, then declined again to comment on which of the commissioners demanded the town manager’s resignation, and whether he was among them.

While Hensley, Lewis and Allen hold the majority control on the board right now, Hensley and Lewis are up for election this fall.

Mayor Maurice Moody described Isenhower as a competent town manager. He said he doesn’t believe that she will have difficulty finding another job in municipal government. Moody said Isenhower’s recent job evaluation, overall, was “fair and pretty good, really.” The five town commissioners and the mayor evaluated Isenhower just a few weeks ago.

“I did not know it was coming at this particular time,” Moody said, adding that he was not among those who asked her to resign.

“I had a different opinion on the type job she was doing than some on the board,” the mayor said, adding that he thought the 28-year-old manger had “made some progress” since she’d been hired in spring 2009.

Dan Schaeffer, the town’s public works director, is serving as a stopgap manager until an interim can be hired, Moody said. The board will then seek a permanent replacement for Isenhower. She made $61,581 annually.

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