Rich Applies for County Manager

Updated 7 years ago Jenny Scarborough

Hyde County Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to enter a contract with William "Bill" Rich to serve as county manager, beginning March 1.

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Hyde Commissioners will vote Monday to hire a new County Manager.

Rich Applies for County Manager

Ocracoke Commissioner John Fletcher does not anticipate the discussion will take long. Of sixteen applicants for the job, six were interviewed. Two are residents of Hyde. One, Bill Rich, both resides on Ocracoke and is a native of Ponzer.

Board of Commissioners Chair Barry Swindell has been acting as County Manager since December. The new position will begin March 1, with a salary yet to be negotiated. Of the six qualified candidates interviewed, "some were making salaries at almost twice what the county is able to offer," said Fletcher.

Rich has never worked for anyone else before, but if hired will "work at the pleasure of the commissioners, under their direction, and be in charge of the employees of the county," he said at Thursday night's planning board meeting. He thinks his business background, as owner of a real estate development company, will be an asset to the county.

Former Manager Mazie Smith was fired in early December. She was the third County Manager in three years; Swindell is the fourth, and Rich may be hired as the fifth.

"My plan is to be here. I can see myself there in five years," said Rich. He believes the board is "sincerely sick of the high turnover" for County Managers in Hyde.

Why apply for a position with many challenges and few rewards?

"I have a passion for Hyde County. I have lived here in one form or another for fifty years," said Rich. "My wife was hugely supportive, so I started really thinking about it." He spoke with both County Attorney Fred Holsher and former Manager Smith before making the decision to apply.

"I have the time. I want to do it. I'm excited about it," he said. If hired, he will step down from his voluntary position as chair of the Ocracoke Planning Advisory Board, but remain active in fundraising and planning for the Ocracoke Community Park.

Residents may soon be seeing a little less of Bill cruising the village in his wood paneled golf cart. Should the Commissioners offer him the job, he will spend Monday through Thursday at his farm house near the Intracoastal Waterway Bridge on the mainland, have Friday office hours at the Community Center on Ocracoke, and spend weekends on the island.

"The fact that I can live on both sides is significant," said Rich. The rumor mill says that Rich is the favored candidate. He would be the first Ocracoke resident to serve as County Manager.

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