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Regain trust via return to core values, new county manager says
Thursday, 02 May 2019 15:47
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Following several scandals involving top leaders, the county government’s entire workforce needs to return to a commitment to core values to regain the public’s trust, Avril Pinder, the new Buncombe County manager, told the  Council of Business Owners during an April 5 breakfast meeting in UNC Asheville’s Sherrill Center.

The meeting’s other speakers were Alison Morrison-Shetlar, the new chancellor at Western Carolina University, who spoke of WCU’s role as an area economic driver; and Nathan Pennington, Buncombe County’s planning director, who gave an update on county zoning changes. About 40 people attended.

Pinder, who was introduced by Brownie Newman, chairman of the county Board of Commissioners, said, “You know where we’re coming from in Buncombe County — we’ve got a great reputation, but it got tainted and we need to regain the public trust.'

Rhetorically, she asked, “How do we work on our staff? How do we ensure this doesn’t happen again? I’ve asked staff… The answer is — we all need to be our brother’s keeper. We need to make sure nobody does this again... So we have that commitment now in Buncombe County” from the county employees. “We know that....

“The next thing is our core values — we need to come back to them .…” Among the core values she cited are showing pride in one’s work, practicing honesty and integrity, showing compassion and care, “showing respect for ourselves and for others” and valuing — and practicing — honesty... My point is our core values mean something,” Pinder said. 

“Your attitude matters... I’ve seen the lift in morale... So when you see me, I’m always ‘on,’” she said.

Following Pinder’s address, no questions were raised during a scheduled question-and-answer session. At that point, CIBO chief — and moderator — Buzzy Cannady said, on behalf of CIBO, to Pinder, “Welcome to Buncombe County!”

Earlier, in his introduction of Pinder, Newman noted that she is a certified public accountant and earned — magna cum laude — a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a  master’s degree in business administration, both from Deleware State University.

He also said that Pinder had been deputy county manager in New Hanover County — home of Wilmington — since 2015. Prior to that, she was assistant manager. She started working for that government in the finance department in 2006.

Newman prompted some chuckles from the CIBO crowd when he quipped, “As you (CIBO members) know, our county commission doesn’t agree on everything,” but the commissioners unanimously voted to hire Pinder.

“One of the things we especially liked is her enthusiasm,” Newman said of Pinder. “She’s been on the job three months. and done a good job.”

Following is other information about Pinder that the Daily Planet found:

• After a roughly six-month search, Pinder is the first person of color to hold the position and the fourth person to serve as county manager in less than two years. 

• Pinder, who is being paid a $198,000 base salary and a $575 monthly car allowance, began her duties March 4, replacing Interim County Manager George Wood, who left the position at the end of February.

• Pinder topped roughly 40 applicants in a national search to take the county’s top administrative job. She brings to Buncombe more than two decades of experience in local government, the last 13 years of which has been in Wilmington.

• In her time with New Hanover County, she helped it secure its first AAA bond rating in 2012, and again in 2013 and 2015.

• She is from Barbados. She came to the United States at age 17, according to a story in the Wilmington Star-News when Pinder became NHC’s finance director.



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