Mr. Inspector

Published 6:27 pm Sunday, July 6, 2014

AHOSKIE – Paul Vaughan didn’t have to change hard hats.

He just added a few more to the collection.

After a little under a dozen years as Hertford County’s Electrical Inspector, Vaughan is now the Town of Ahoskie’s Code Enforcement Officer.  Among the hats he now wears for the town, they include Building Inspector, Electrical Inspector, Plumbing Inspector, and Zoning Administrator.  This makes him the last line of assurance for a repair job or building job done proper and done right within the town limits.

Town of Ahoskie Code Enforcement Officer Paul Vaughan poses in his office at the Ahoskie Fire Station where a wall displays his numerous state licenses and certifications. Staff Photo by Gene Motley

Town of Ahoskie Code Enforcement Officer Paul Vaughan poses in his office at the Ahoskie Fire Station where a wall displays his numerous state licenses and certifications. Staff Photo by Gene Motley

According to the town’s website, this includes the review and issuance of all permits for construction of commercial, single family, multi-family, buildings and structures.

Permits are also issued for accessory structures such as swimming pools, decks, storage buildings, garages, carports, etc.

Once approved, regular inspections are made on each permit issued and a Certificate of Occupancy is issued after the completion of the project.

“Make sure you’ve got those permits,” he warns in his own soft-spoken way. “Make certain of proper zoning and do whatever is within the law for safe structures and repairs.”

Adorning the wall of Vaughan’s office is a number of the state certifications his job requires and will easily assure you that every one of them has been earned.

But more than the paper on the wall, or the nuts-and-bolts of his duties, Vaughan will tell you that this labor of love is because it’s a ‘contact’ occupation.

“This is a people-person’s job,” he adds with a smile. “Lots of contact with people makes it very rewarding.”

A native of Murfreesboro and life-long Hertford County resident, Vaughan began right out of high school as an electrician’s apprentice.  From there he pursued the profession, obtaining his state certification and necessary license before beginning his own electrical contracting business, which he’s operated for over 30 years.

“It was simply called ‘Paul Vaughan Electric’,” he contends. “I operated out of a shop behind my home.”

After the first 18 years in private business, Vaughan sought a new challenge and in 1987 accepted a position with Hertford County as the county’s electrical inspector.

“I was invited to apply for the position by some county commissioners that were familiar with my work,” Vaughan recalls. “That was my first introduction to local government.”

Vaughan didn’t remain with the county for very long during his first tour, only about three years.  By 1990 he had opted to return once more to private business.

“I had a lot of contracts with the federal government,” he relates. “I did the Voice of America sites and got a chance to travel up and down the east coast doing sub-contract work.”

Working at VOA transmission sites from North Carolina to Maryland, Vaughan was able to gain valuable experience, as well as being his own boss once more for the next dozen years.

In 2002 Vaughan was invited once more to apply for a county inspector’s position again and since he had retained his certifications, it was an easy transition back into government. He worked there for 11 years and six months until he applied for his current position with the town.

“It’s another new challenge,” Vaughan admits. “I look forward to helping continue to make Ahoskie a progressive community as well as a nice place to live.”

Vaughan also serves as local permit officer for the Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA), as well as Flood Plain manager.

“With my new duties here I’m also the zoning and planning administrator,” he adds. “Part of the challenge is that you never know what you’re going to get, and you have to deal with all sorts of situations.”

Vaughan is also excited to be working with commercial businesses that are coming into the area and the renovations and repairs that accompany new industry and construction.

“It’s very challenging, and very rewarding,” he emphasizes. “Going through the certification program I’m very knowledgeable of the construction industry.”

In addition to the issuance of permits, Vaughan also enforces housing codes for the town and he consults with Ahoskie Fire Chief Ken Dilday to make certain that in the various zones of the town, fire codes have been met.

Condemnations and minimum housing enforcement, Vaughan admits, are one of the tougher parts of his job.

“As long as you get zoning approval and you’re in the right district, no problem,” he says. “I emphasize again, get your permit.”

Vaughan extols the tradesman’s life.  When he speaks to youth groups he emphasizes education.

“It’s not all about college,” he says. “There’s a need, a great need, for trades.  We need plumbers, electricians, heating and air people.  If that’s your calling, pursue the trades because there are plenty of opportunities out there.”

To that end, he even makes a bold prediction.

“In the future, I believe a plumber will one day make more than a doctor,” Vaughan predicts. “It’s nice honest, hard work, and trades people are necessary.”

Vaughan says he’s reached a point in his career where he feels comfortable in settling into and fitting inside his new ‘hard hats’.

“I look forward to many years here,” he concludes.