Rountree era underway

Published 3:19 pm Saturday, July 12, 2014

GATESVILLE – From 4-H Agent, to Workforce Development Director, to County Manager….the rise to the top has been a learning experience for Natalie Rountree.

Last week, Rountree raised her right hand and accepted the oath to, “support and maintain the constitution and laws of the United States; the constitution and laws of North Carolina; and faithfully discharge the duties of office as Gates County Manager.”

Natalie Rountree (facing camera) accepts the oath of office as the new Gates County Manager. Clerk of Court Nell Wiggins administered the oath at the July 2 meeting of the Gates County Board of Commissioners. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

Natalie Rountree (facing camera) accepts the oath of office as the new Gates County Manager. Clerk of Court Nell Wiggins administered the oath at the July 2 meeting of the Gates County Board of Commissioners. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

That oath, administered by Gates County Clerk of Court Nell Wiggins, came after the Board of Commissioners, on a motion by Vice Chairman Jack Owens, unanimously voted to approve Rountree’s employment contract with the county effective July 1.

“We’re glad to have Mrs. Rountree onboard with Gates County,” stated Henry Jordan, chairman of the Board of Commissioners. “She has joined our local government team. We ask our citizens to welcome her to this new job and support her because we are all in this together. It takes a team effort to accomplish the goals we have for all of Gates County.”

“I know she will do a great job,” added Ken Windley who has served as interim County Manager since the departure of former manager Jon Mendenhall earlier this year. “I hope she will be here as your county manager for many, many years.”

A native of Salisbury (RowanCounty), Rountree is an undergraduate of North Carolina State University, and a graduate of North Carolina State University with a Masters of Public Administration. Additional studies have been completed at East Carolina University and College of the Albemarle.

Rountree arrives as County Manager armed with experience in local government. She has served as Director for the Albemarle Commission, Northeast Workforce Development Board in Hertford since last year. She joined the Albemarle Commission in April of 2011, initially serving as Assistant Director Northeast Workforce Development Board.

Rountree also has experience as a Training & Employment Specialist for State Energy Sector Partnership; and as an Employment Consultant for North Carolina Employment Security Commission in Edenton.

She spent 10 years (1998-2008) as a 4-H Extension Agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Hertford County.

She met Hunter Rountree of Eure while both were students at NC State. The couple married and settled in the community of Eure, now with two children, where he operates the family owned FHR Farms.

“Our roots are here in Gates County; we’re here to stay,” Rountree stressed in an earlier interview.

“We’re looking for great things from Natalie,” said Owens. “We’re glad to have someone with ‘skin in the game’ (a county resident). Glad to have you onboard.”

“I welcome Natalie and look forward to working with you,” stated Commissioner Ken Jernigan. “I would also like to thank Mr. Windley for all he has done over the past several months as our interim County Manager.”

“Having a local person with a vested interest in GatesCounty is very much welcomed with our new County Manager. We hope for a long tenure of service to the county from Mrs. Rountree,” Commissioner Linda Hofler remarked. “We also appreciate the efforts of Mr. Windley. We hope we do not have to call you a third time.”

“Natalie, I welcome you onboard and look forward to a long time of service with you. I appreciate you accepting this obligation to work with the county and keep us moving forward,” Commissioner Billy Felton said.

As part of last week’s formalities, the commissioners also approved a contract extension for Windley until July 16. Jordan said that extension was needed in an effort for Windley to familiarize Rountree – “bring her up to speed” – on all projects currently in progress. Jordan said that contract called for Windley to work three days a week, but he could be required to put in additional workdays if needed.

“I would like to state for the record of how much we appreciate Ken’s work, his expertise, and his professionalism,” Jordan said. “He came through for us in the crunch.”

Rountree emerged as the leading candidate for County Manager following a round of interviews among several qualified individuals conducted last month by the Commissioners. The Board announced their intentions on June 20 to offer the job to Rountree.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

email author More by Cal