Granville County 2012: Several leadership positions changed, and Baxter said ‘no’

Jan. 12, 2013 @ 09:13 PM

When long-time Granville County Commissioner Hubert Gooch decided not to seek re-election in 2012, the vacancy he created was only one of several that occurred in Granville County in 2012.

Gooch had been appointed to the board of commissioners twice before being elected to three four-year terms. A retired educator, he served over 30 years with Granville County Schools as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent and associate superintendent. His spot on the board of commissioners was filled by Ed Mims of Creedmoor, who led in a primary election, won in a runoff and won again in the general election in November.

A county staff vacancy occurred when Jay Tilley, director of economic development, resigned in May. Shortly afterward, he said, “We missed out on a big one. After that, things began to deteriorate.”

Tilley, as point man for Granville County, had failed to persuade Baxter International to locate a new plant in the Triangle North Granville Industrial Park. Instead, the company went to Georgia.

No one would confirm that losing the Baxter plant cost Tilley his job. But the unfilled space in Granville Industrial Park may have been an unpleasant reminder of the ineffectiveness of his efforts.

The Granville County Board of Commissioners had invested heavily in the park’s infrastructure. In addition, to avoid losing favored tax status, the board had mortgaged other county property to purchase the park, an action that created controversy in the community.

Putting a positive face on the board’s investment in the park, Commissioner Dave Currin said Granville Industrial Park met Baxter’s exacting demands for water, sewer and roads. “If you can meet those standards, other companies know that you are a viable site,” he said. 

To fill the EDC director’s position, the county hired Bill Edwards, who had recently retired as president of the Henderson-Vance County Chamber of Commerce, on an interim basis. At year’s end, Edwards was still in the position and the commissioners appeared to be in no hurry to fill the spot permanently.

Other vacancies seemed to be the order of the day in Granville County during 2012.

The City of Oxford was hardest hit by openings that occurred in key positions. City Manager Mark Donham resigned in June and Fire Chief Earnest Lee Bess III resigned in July.

Oxford City Clerk Donna Hosch resigned in April to take a similar position elsewhere. Barb Rote, a former city clerk, was quickly appointed to fill that vacancy.

Early in 2012, the Oxford Downtown Economic Development Director Tanya Weary resigned to take a position as director of the Small Business Center at Vance-Granville Community College. Her responsibilities for downtown development have been assumed on a part-time basis by Julia Stovall Overton.

Still another vacancy was created when Shields Blackwell resigned her position as executive director of the Granville Education Foundation to accept a position with Granville Medical Center.

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.