01/06/06 — Pikeville administrator will leave post January 27

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Pikeville administrator will leave post January 27

By Turner Walston
Published in News on January 6, 2006 1:51 PM

Lonnie Graves will step down as town administrator in Pikeville, effective Jan. 27. Graves, 29, will take an administrative position with Carolina Solutions, a rehabilitative care facility owned by his family in Burlington.

"I just have so many obligations back home -- obligations with my church, my family business, my family," Graves said. "It wasn't anything that happened here in Pikeville that caused me to make the decision. It was just time."

Lonnie Graves

Lonnie Graves

Graves had been the town's administrator since December 2002. The position had been vacant since 1998 prior to his arrival.

Graves said the rehabilitation of Pikeville Park is an accomplishment he is particularly proud of as town administrator.

The park was built on the grounds of the old Pikeville School. Part of the school building was torn down, and the town is currently seeking grants to demolish the rest.

"Initially, I looked at it more as a challenge," Graves said. "When I first came, everybody said that it couldn't be done. We'd tried it so many times before, and we just couldn't take it down, the building. At first there was a lot of opposition for the grant. We had a lot of naysayers. I had to debunk a lot of that misinformation, and then we just proceeded."

Working in Pikeville has taught Graves many things that he will take with him, he said, including creative thinking.

"Thinking outside of the box got us the school down because we went after the park grant. It was a totally new approach to getting the building down."

Pikeville residents helped Graves develop in other ways as well.

"I learned how to be diplomatic with people of all personalities, and seeing all sides of an issue," he said. "Even my critics, I made it a point to see their viewpoint, where they were coming from."

As town administrator, Graves did not have a vote a commissioners' meetings.

"I try to do all the research I can, just so the board is not blindsided, so they have all the relevant information they need," he said. "I implement the policy decisions that they make."

Prior to coming to Pikeville, Graves had internships in the towns of Madison and Farmville and in Rockingham County. He also spent time as a financial planner with Mass Mutual. He said he will leave Pikeville with a sense of accomplishment.

"Here, I can actually say that I've made progress. I can actually see where progress has been made," Graves said.

Graves said he is hopeful the town will continue to pursue grants and economic development.

"Because I've been here, I kind of have an ownership in it. Maybe it's a selfish interest, but I want Pikeville to succeed. No matter where I go, I'm going to try my best to make sure Pikeville is taken care of."

At the town's Tuesday board meeting, commissioners gave Graves the authority to pursue grants to upgrade the town's electrical system.

"Our system is pretty old," Graves said. "Some parts of our system may be up to 80 years old, so we want to increase the voltage coming through. We want to be able to handle bigger loads so we can have more facilities."