Holden sworn in as Randolph County manager

Zeb Holden, left, was sworn in as Randolph County manager earlier this month as county commissioners look on. (Photo courtesy of Randolph County)

Zeb Holden was sworn in as Randolph County manager by the Randolph County Board of Commissioners at its May 6 meeting.

“We have always promoted a county manager from within,” said board chairman Darrell Frye. “This time, we did a search. This was the first time we’ve ever posted a job and did a search for a county manager.”

The county received some 37 applications from more than a half-dozen different states, including from as far away as Colorado, then those were whittled down to three or so.

“We … came to the realization that the person we needed was right here among us all along,” Frye said.

Holden had been city manager in Archdale for more than eight years. He was announced as the new county manager earlier this year, but now it’s official.

“Over the years, we’ve worked on a number of economic development projects with Zeb, and some are underway right now,” Frye told the board. “He has been a part of the county working with managers and councils within the other municipalities within the county and he just has a lot of experience and is on a first-name basis with a lot of folks.”

The previous county manager, Hal Johnson, retired earlier this year following 48 years of public service to the county and finance officer Will Massie had been serving as the interim since the start of 2024.

“We did have an exhaustive search,” said vice chair David Allen. “But we’re looking forward to working with (Holden).”

In other business, the board approved a county match to Asheboro City Schools for the South Asheboro Middle School renovation project, amounting to a bit above $5.2 million.

ACS was approved for a Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund Grant and was awarded about $30 million through NCDPI, with a 15 percent match required from the county.

“South Asheboro Middle School was built in 1962, had an additional upgrade in 2001 and it’s almost 100,000 square feet,” ACS superintendent Aaron Woody said. “We’re always renewing and reviewing the needs and the priorities of our facilities all across Asheboro City Schools and, with the exception of our high school now, our buildings are, on average, more than 60 years old and have original infrastructure throughout most of the facilities. At the top of our priorities list has been South Asheboro Middle School.”

According to Woody, the areas they hope to address are ADA accessibility and an elevator, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, cafeteria seating capacity and security upgrades at the main entrance.

Construction could begin by May of next year, to be finished around July 2027.

The board punted the approval of a yearly waiver of American Healthcare Debt Services for the Rural Healthcare Stabilization Loan at Randolph Health, over concerns with the ownership of the hospital.

“The good news is, we have a hospital and that the citizens get good service when they go there. That is a testament to the dedicated people that work at that hospital,” Frye said.

“That’s what’s good about our hospital … but the people who own and run that hospital are not here. We had a board meeting in January and now it’s May and we have not had another one,” Frye told a representative for the hospital. “This note that you gave us says we will have routine meetings. We have not had routine meetings. We don’t have any meetings. I want you to understand that it’s not what’s going on at that hospital, it’s what is happening with the ownership that is taking advantage of funds from the taxpayers of this county.”

Frye continued, noting that it wasn’t so much the hospital itself that the board has concerns with, but the owners:

“We have a hospital and it’s delivering services. Our beef is with the people that actually own that hospital and taking money out of our hospital,” Frye said. “Whether it’s for profit or not for profit, that’s what is being done and I don’t think that’s keeping with the agreement and I think that’s also the opinion of the” Local Government Commission.

The Randolph County Board of Commissioners will next meet June 3.

By Ryan Henkel