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Laurel Park manager leaving for new job in South Carolina

Alison Alexander, who has been town manager of Laurel Park since 2013, is leaving to take a county management position in South Carolina.

She will become assistant county administrator of Lancaster County, a county of 92,500 people southeast of Charlotte.

Alexander was chosen from 51 candidates five years ago to succeed Jim Ball as town manager. A native of Franklin, she began 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. 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 is a member of both the International City and County Management Association and the North Carolina City and County Management Association.

The second-fastest growing county in South Carolina, Lancaster, like eastern Mecklenburg and Union County, has surged in population since it came out of the Great Recession.

"The majority of the need right now is having to do with planning and growth management," Alexander said. "A lot of it has to do with communications with the residents and the businesses. They're already at a point where they need to revise their comprehensive plan and zoning ordinances."

Alexander pointed to several achievements in her time as town manager.

"Some of them are maybe invisible but we've done a lot of changes in organizational efficiencies, in terms of how we do some of our internal processes including work orders and requests from the public." She implemented the black board system that uses email and text message blasts to notify residents of things like storm damage, power outages and snow forecasts.

"I'm proud that I work with a council that has seen the need and increased funding for road maintenance and storm drainage and laid the groundwork to continue work on those improvements," she said. Under her administration, the town received grants to complete improvements of Rhododendrun Lake Park and, working with the Friends of Laural Park, improvements at Jump Off Rock. She helped lead the drafting and adoption of the town's first bike and pedestrian plan and guided a water system study. She has experience in Laurel Park guiding a comp plan rewrite, which will be among her main responsibilities in South Carolina.

"I think they are a group who are very respectful of each other and the employees and the residents," she said of the town board. "They come to the meeting and wanting to do the right thing." Board members devote hours of volunteer time outside their conventional council work. "Paul (Hansen) and George Banta were helping to set up Christmas lights yesterday," she said.

The Town Council called a special meeting for Tuesday to discuss the recruitment process for Alexander's replacement. Hartwell Wright, from the North Carolina League of Municipalities, will present the council "town manager 101" to walk members through the recruitment process for her replacement.