Hertford Co. Manager retires

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 24, 2005

WINTON – At this moment the office occupied by Don Craft for 15 years sits empty.

The man who has directed the fortunes of Hertford County from the Manager’s Chair stepped down from that post Monday night, announcing his retirement effective immediately.

&uot;I have some health problems,&uot; Craft said in an interview Wednesday morning. &uot;It’s not that I couldn’t go to work, but the time had come.

&uot;I haven’t had doctors tell me to retire, but I had some tell me they didn’t know why I didn’t,&uot; he added. &uot;I just felt it was time to go.&uot;

The county’s commissioners may not have anticipated Craft’s retirement, as there were no immediate plans for the operation of the county government.

The Board recessed Monday’s meeting until 7 p.m. tonight (Thursday) when they will meet to hold a closed session, presumably to discuss the next step in filling the manager’s job.

Under the county’s organizational chart, Assistant County Manager Pat Weaver is the next highest-ranking officer.

Craft’s retirement ended a 15-year stint as the county’s chief executive officer. He said that time had been rewarding, but admitted he had served longer than he expected.

&uot;I really thought I would serve three or four years,&uot; he said. &uot;But, when I got into the job I felt my background had prepared me for it and that I could continue.&uot;

When he was appointed Interim County Manager in 1990, Craft was serving as Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners. He served as interim from April until July at which time Craft resigned his seat on the Board and was appointed the permanent Hertford County Manager.

&uot;I’ve enjoyed it,&uot; Craft stressed. &uot;It would have been 15 years in July and it’s been a good ride.&uot;

In looking back on his service to the county, Craft said his proudest accomplishment was the near completion of the county’s rural water system.

&uot;(Former Hertford County Commissioner) Vernice Howard was a very strong proponent of the rural water system,&uot; Craft said. &uot;She supported my efforts throughout to put water in the rural parts of Hertford County.

&uot;Now we have running water in virtually the entire system and work is proceeding for the last leg,&uot; Craft said. &uot;It’s the one thing I look back on and feel literally responsible for.&uot;

Another area Craft feels the county improved in was tax collection procedures.

&uot;We helped push the idea that we needed to put in different tax collection techniques,&uot; Craft said. &uot;I won’t take full responsibility for that, but I’ll take the manager’s share.&uot;

The retired manager said not needing credit for everything that happened in the county had been one of his strong suits in the manager’s job.

&uot;My style has been sort of to stay in the background,&uot; he said. &uot;I would prefer others to be at the forefront and perhaps that helped me in the long run.&uot;

As he thinks toward his future, Craft said he had no definite plans as to what he would do over the course of the next few years, but that he intended to enjoy his retirement.

He said the one thing he would miss the most about working would be the people that he worked with.

&uot;I’ll miss the camaraderie,&uot; he said. &uot;We have a terrific staff. I get along well with all of them and I certainly wish them well.&uot;