Ahoskie searches for new Town Manager

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 31, 2004

AHOSKIE – The last time Ahoskie officials went in search of a new Town Manager, George Bush – the father, not the son, occupied the White House; the Exxon Valdez incident caused the biggest oil spill in American history and Communism was crumbling in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

Fifteen years have passed since Ahoskie native Russell Overman accepted the Town Manager’s job. Now with last week’s announcement that he is leaving, town officials are faced with the task of replacing the person responsible for the day-by-day operations of the town.

The Ahoskie Town Council has called a special meeting for 10 a.m. tomorrow (Wednesday) to discuss that matter.

&uot;Wednesday’s meeting is just the start of the process,&uot; said Ahoskie Mayor Linda Blackburn. &uot;I’m sure that the Town Council feels as I do as we want to find the best possible candidate to lead Ahoskie into the future.&uot;

Blackburn said a replacement would not be found overnight.

&uot;We will not rush into this,&uot; stressed the Mayor. &uot;We will take our time in an effort to find the right person for this job. We ask for the patience of our citizens in this endeavor. This is a big move for our town and we need to make sure we do the right thing in seeking the best possible person to fill this extremely important position.&uot;

Blackburn said it was her desire to see the Town Council search for a person that shares the same vision currently within the focus of the town’s leaders regarding Ahoskie’s future.

&uot;That person may already be in place here in Ahoskie,&uot; she noted. &uot;But whoever that is, I hope it’s a person willing to keep this town moving in the right direction.&uot;

As far as Overman’s departure, which becomes effective Oct. 1, Blackburn had these comments. &uot;It’s regrettable that we’ve come to this, but it’s right for the town and it’s right for Russell. He’s a good person and we appreciate his 15 years of service to this town.&uot;

Town Councilman Ronald Gatling echoed the Mayor’s sentiments.

&uot;We will not replace the love and passion Russell Overman had for this town,&uot; Gatling stated. &uot;He leaves the town in a financially stable condition with our fund balance at 30 percent. He’s a good man and I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.&uot;

Gatling added that Overman’s departure was, &uot;on good terms.&uot;

&uot;After several long discussions, the Council and Russell came to grips that we need to part company,&uot; said Gatling. &uot;That doesn’t mean Russell wasn’t doing a good job. Rather, we are seeking someone with a broader vision for the future of this town.&uot;

In his letter of resignation, officially delivered on Friday to Mayor Blackburn, Overman stated it was his honor to serve the town and its citizens for the past 15 years.

&uot;I have always loved this town and will continue to do so,&uot; he stated in his letter. &uot;It is, always has been and always will be, home to my family and me. Many times you must let go of something that you love and the time has come for me to do just that.&uot;

He continued, &uot;You, the Town Council, and I all agree that it is time for a change and I can only hope and wish that this will be not only a positive change for me, but also for the Town of Ahoskie. There are many things happening in Ahoskie that have the potential of making the town an even better place. I wish you, the Town Council, the staff and the citizens the best of luck with changes that are taking place.&uot;

Overman went on to thank past and present town leaders and staff for their tireless and dedicated service to the town. &uot;They are responsible for the many positive things that have occurred during the last 15 years and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to lead them.&uot;

Overman said it was his desire to remain in Ahoskie, if possible. He stated that would depend on where he finds employment.