Free Daily Headlines


Set your text size: A A A

Transitions: Towns welcome new leaders

Alison Melnikova greets well wishers during a reception in November. Alison Melnikova greets well wishers during a reception in November.

In the halls of government across Henderson County, 2013 was a year of transition.

After the departure of City Manager Bo Ferguson in December 2012, the Hendersonville City Council hired Lee Galloway, the retired city manager of Waynesville, while it searched for Ferguson's replacement.
In April the council hired John Connet, a second-generation municipal administrator who had been city manager of Clinton since 2002. A graduate of Western Carolina and Appalachian State universities, Connet had ties to the N.C. mountains through his family and his wife's family.
Connet has proven to be an adroit manager when it comes to council politics and the city's relationship with business. He guided the council through a revision of its water impact fee schedule and has won praise from the business community for his willingness to hear concerns about regulatory costs — an issue that council members have made a priority.
Laurel Park
Next door in Laurel Park, council members and residents said farewell and thank you to Town Manager Jim Ball, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who had led the community since 1998, and welcomed his replacement, Alison Melnikova, the assistant city manager of Waynesville.
A native of Franklin, Melnikova earned undergraduate and masters degrees from Western Carolina University. Performing arts bonus: Her husband, Oleg Melnikov, is a professional violinist with the Asheville and Hendersonville symphony orchestras.
Ball recalled that he had 15 minutes worth of orientation when he came on board 15 years ago. For this transition, Melnikova trained under Ball for a month.
"The three biggest areas we're working on are the budget, the town water system and zoning administration," he said in November.
Flat Rock
In Flat Rock, zoning administrator Judy Boleman added a new title and fulltime hours when the Village Council promoted her to town administrator.

Henderson County
Henderson County saw changes at the top, too.
After the departure of Planning Director Anthony Starr, County Manager Steve Wyatt created the new position of director of business and community development. Hired for the job was John Mitchell, a 2004 WCU graduate who had served as a field representative for U.S. Sen. Richard Burr since 2008.
Public Health Director Tom Bridges retired at year's end and F. Eric Bush replaced Department of Social Services director Liston Smith, who retired after 25 years. Bush had been DSS director of Duplin County since 2010.