County official resigns

Published 10:21 am Friday, January 4, 2013

COURTLAND—Southampton County’s assistant administrator has resigned to become the manager for Gates County, N.C.

Jon Mendenhall will leave on Jan. 11 after a 21-month stint with the county.

Supervisors said Thursday they have no immediate plans to fill Mendenhall’s position, which most claim has been used as a “training ground” for moving onto bigger and better things.

“This is the third one (assistant administrator) we’ve lost,” said Supervisor Chairman Dallas Jones. “I’m glad we can train folks and that they can go out and make good. It shows we are doing something right.”

Against County Administrator Mike Johnson’s recommendation to leave the position vacant, supervisors in March 2011 hired Mendenhall at $65,144 annually. He was the former director of engineering services for the City of Albemarle, N.C., and replaced Jay Randolph, who resigned in September 2010 to become the administrator for Lunenburg County.

Mendenhall will be paid $75,000 annually in his new job and replaces Toby Chappell, who resigned in September for a similar job in Greenwood County, S.C.

Johnson said Thursday said he will recommend splitting Mendenhall’s duties.

“My recommendation is let’s take it slow,” Johnson said. “Let’s see how the next 90 days goes.”

Newsoms District Supervisor Glenn Updike said the county doesn’t have the money to hire another person.

“I cannot see any way, shape or form of filling this position at this time,” Updike said. “We just don’t have the funds. We’re going to have to do a whole lot more cutting. To add additional personal at this time is unthinkable.”

Berlin-Ivor District Supervisor Ronnie West agrees it’s time to sit back and look at what’s needed.

“We are trying to be conservative,” West said. “I don’t foresee us filling the position right a way.”

He commended Mendenhall for his efforts.

“He was doing so much behind the scenes,” West said. “He was more than paying for the job, seeking grants and working and drawing contracts.”

Boykins-Branchville District Supervisor Carl Faison also doesn’t favor immediately filling the position.

“My concern is that the county has the staff to operate effectively,” Faison said. “Jon did an excellent job. We are fortunate to have Mike Johnson as county administrator. I’m confident he will make a recommendation that’s good for the county.”

Franklin District Supervisor Barry Porter said the board is looking at every position before it’s filled.

“We’re looking at what they do, what everyone else in the county does and where there are areas for improvement and efficiency,” Porter said. “Twice we’ve hired an assistant to replace someone. We are training someone for someone else.”

Porter noted that Mendenhall was the lead person on the county’s efficiency study and another study to share services with the City of Franklin.

“Those are two important tasks we need to figure out how to do,” Porter said. “One thing he brought to the table was he had an extensive background and commitment to continuous improvement.”

Capron District Supervisor Bruce Phillips said he wasn’t surprised to hear Mendenhall was leaving.

“The assistant county administrator’s (position) is a training job,” Phillips said. “He was an asset to the county. He had written some grants and we had gotten some good funding.”

Mendenhall’s leaving will allow the county to reassess the job description, Phillips said.

“We are running out of people, and we can consolidate some of the responsibilities and do without some of the others. That is something the board will have to look at very carefully.”

Jones said it will be 90 days to six months before a decision is made.