04/30/06 — Brown will take over Mount Olive job June 5

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Brown will take over Mount Olive job June 5

By Turner Walston
Published in News on April 30, 2006 2:09 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Assistant Town Manager Charles Brown has had about 10 weeks to learn the ropes -- now, he's ready to take the reins as Mount Olive's town manager.

"(Current Town Manager) Ray McDonald has basically set June 2 as his last day," Brown said. He added he expects to be named town manager effective June 5 at Monday's town board meeting.

Brown, 61, started working under McDonald as the assistant town manager Feb. 14.

"I got about a five-minute notice," he said. "They said, 'We've got a meeting, can you come?'"

Brown said town commissioners gauged his interest in the position when McDonald announced he was considering retirement. "I said yes because I viewed it as an opportunity to help the town of Mount Olive," he said. "That appealed to me."

A native of Iredell County, Brown moved to Mount Olive in 2003. Brown's wife, Joy, is a Mount Olive native and the daughter of former town commissioner Gene Lee.

The move was made when Brown and his wife got the opportunity to purchase Southern Furniture and Interiors. Brown was working in the jewelry industry in Raleigh. "We just decided that that was a good opportunity for us," he said.

Mrs. Brown will continue to handle day-to-day operations at Southern Furniture & Interiors.

"Operating a small municipality is very much akin to operating a small business," Brown said. "A lot of the same principles apply." Management and budgeting are two of those areas, he said.

There are some advantages to working in government, he added. "If you've got a fixed budget, at least you've got an idea of what's going on."

Although he had not worked in municipal government before, Brown is confident in his qualifications and looking forward to the challenge.

"I'm excited about it," Brown said. "I enjoy working for the town and with the other employees of Mount Olive. I think the board members are very dedicated for the well-being of Mount Olive. The mayor has a very forward-thinking attitude about seeing Mount Olive grow and prosper."

Brown said his familiarity with Mount Olive made him the best candidate.

"I really think the big thing is having someone in the town manager position that's got the best interests of the town at heart," Brown said. McDonald has been a "prime example" of that kind of manager, Brown said. Although McDonald will retire on June 1, Brown doesn't expect him to disappear from public service. "I suspect he will probably still stay very closely associated with the town."

Brown said several upcoming projects will keep him busy. Once work is completed on water and sewer lines at Mount Olive College, the college will turn that infrastructure over to the town. The town's public works officials are also working to handle infiltration and inflow problems in the town's sewer lines.

Mount Olive has grown since his move here three years ago, Brown said. Then, there were nearly 20 vacant businesses downtown, he said. "Today, there's three or four." He pointed to companies that have made Mount Olive their home, like Mt. Olive Pickle, Andy's and Southern Bank, as instrumental in the town's growth.

"I feel very comfortable, with the backing of not just the town employees but of the business owners in Mount Olive as well," Brown said.