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New manager looks foward to Laurel Park job

LAUREL PARK — The new town manager of Laurel Park says she looks forward to working for a town "filled with people that want to be there and want it to be a nice place to live."

 The Laurel Park Town Council on Wednesday announced the appointment of Alison L. Melnikova, a Frankin native who is currently the assistant town manager of Waynesville, as the new town manager, at a salary of $68,016 a year.

Melnikova was chosen from a field of 51 individuals who applied for the position. She will begin work for Laurel Park on Nov. 4.

"I respect Jim Ball," the outgoing manager, she said. "When I met with the council members I enjoyed how they worked together. And I wanted to stay in Western North Carolina."

Melnikova, 32, has spent her municipal government career in Waynesville, starting as an intern in 2006 before becoming assistant to the town manager later that year and then assistant town manager in 2008. She has worked on IT, planning and zoning and water issues.

Waynesville has a population of just under 10,000 and a police department of 35 officers and 50 total police employees. Laurel Park, population 2,189, has seven fulltime police officers.

Melnikova is impressed with the Laurel Park Civic Association and its commitment to the betterment of the town. She has no specific ideas for town projects at this time, deferring to the council's plans.

"It sounds like they want to do more with parks and greenways," she said. "It's just figuring out how to fund it."

She succeeds Ball, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who has been town manager since 1998 and is retiring in December.

"I had worked with her and I think very highly of her," Ball said. "I do think the council made a good choice."

Melnikova has been in the Waynesville post since July 2008. She earned her undergraduate degree in English from Western Carolina University (magna cum laude) and received her master's degree in public affairs from WCU as well.

She also completed the Municipal Administration Program in 2008, the Public Executive Leadership Academy in 2011 and the Certified Government Chief Information Officer Course in 2012, all through the School of Government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a member of both the International City and County Management Association and the North Carolina City and County Management Association.

Melnikova's background in Western Carolina coupled with her formal and professional education and her municipal experience in Waynesville make her an excellent choice for the position. A reception to introduce and welcome Melnikova and her husband, Oleg, to the community will be announced at a later date.