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Laurel Park thanks Ball, welcomes Melnikova

Alison Melnikoka is the new town manager of Laurel Park. Alison Melnikoka is the new town manager of Laurel Park.

LAUREL PARK — Lee Galloway recalled Alison Melnikova's arrival at Waynesville City Hall as a young college intern. She had a gift for government management that he began to cultivate from the start.

After she graduated from Western Carolina University, Galloway, then Waynesville's city manager, hired Melnikova as his assistant.
"When I hired her I could quickly see she had all the smarts that I didn't have," he said. Two years later, he made her assistant city manager. Among her specialties was IT systems. Galloway guided her through project management and other government departments.
Galloway's and Melnikova's paths crossed again Wednesday evening at the Hendersonville Country Club, where residents gathered to welcome her as Laurel Park's new town manager and thank Jim Ball for his 16 years of service.
JimBallJim Ball greets Police Chief Bobbie Trotter.Ball, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, became Laurel Park's first town manager in 1998 after 23 years in the military.
"We were very fortunate," said John Crook, who was on the Laurel Park Town Council at the time. Before they hired Ball, town board members ran the town by dividing up oversight of the water system, police department and administration.
"It was too hard on the employees," Crook said, "because they were being run by a committee and they were reporting to a committee. We decided it was time to go to a council-manager form of government."
Ball is staying on board until Dec. 2 to train Melnikova.
"The three biggest areas we're working on are the budget, the town water system and zoning administration," he said.
A native of Franklin who has undergraduate and masters degrees from WCU, Melnikova is married to Oleg Melnikov, who works in trucking management in Asheville and is a professional violinist with the Asheville and Hendersonville symphony orchestras. (Alison's last name has the added "a" for the feminine in the Russian language.) The couple is looking for a home in Laurel Park, he said.
On Wednesday evening, Laurel Park residents and elected officials from other towns of Henderson County thanked Ball for her service and welcomed Melnikova.
Galloway knows the new Laurel Park manager well and he knows Henderson County. He served as Hendersonville's interim city manager from December 2012 until last June.
Melnikova "was involved in several new construction projects," he said. "She redid the IT system.... She was ready to become a manager. I can't think of anybody who would do any better with the Laurel Park job than Alison."