01/24/06 — Growth will stay on agenda for Pikeville officials

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Growth will stay on agenda for Pikeville officials

By Turner Walston
Published in News on January 24, 2006 1:48 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Lonnie Graves will leave his position as Pikeville town administrator Friday.

But even though he will now work for his family's health-care business in Burlington, Graves said he still hopes to help the next person who will lead the town into the future.

Graves is compiling an orientation packet for the town's next administrator, which includes information on public safety, planning and zoning, finance and utilities and projects currently in the works.

"So they won't have to re-invent the wheel," Graves said.

Prior to his arrival, Pikeville had been without an administrator for four years. Graves said he would have liked to have had a similar guide when he took the position.

Between day-to-day management and working on town improvement projects, Graves said, "I don't think there is a typical day. Every day there's a challenge."

Mayor Herb Sieger said the town's board of commissioners is seeking someone to accept that challenge. The job opening is listed in the classified section of the North Carolina League of Municipalities Web site, and in several trade magazines, Sieger said. The town is accepting applications until March 1.

In the meantime, board members will continue attempting to secure grants to complete the sewer system and upgrade the electrical system.

"We're going to continue on the same mode we've been in," he said.

With the opening of the new U.S. 117 corridor, Pikeville is ripe for development, Sieger said.

He said the town board first needs to take care of what's within the town limits. In addition to upgrades to the electrical system and the new sewer plant, board members are seeking funds to tear down the gymnasium at the old Pikeville School.

"We get those three things done, the town will be in pretty good shape. If we get the electrical system done and the sewer system all complete, then we're in the position to talk about annexation. The essential plan is to position for growth. Take care of what we've got, but at the same time, position for more growth."

Sieger said while the board members will miss Graves, they must move forward. "He's really been excellent. He works well with the board and works well with the people. But we'll get another one."

In the meantime, town clerk Kathie Fields and utilities director Perry Jones will be the only full-time employees at Town Hall. That could mean more responsibility for them.

"I'm sure that I will do what the board expects me to do, to keep the business as usual until they find somebody," Ms. Fields said. "I'm more than willing to help in any way I can to keep things going."

Graves said his eventual successor will have an opportunity to see tremendous growth in Pikeville, and will have a lot of help.

"I feel that the new town administrator will be very fortunate, partly because of the progress the town had made, and the board that he has to work with."

On Friday, the town will hold an Open House at Town Hall on Graves' last day on the job, from 3 to 5 p.m.

"We're really going to miss him and want to give him a proper send-off," Mrs. Fields said.