Randolph board honors retiring county manager, interim appointed

Randolph County Commissioners

ASHEBORO – The Randolph County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday, Jan. 2.

To start the meeting, the board recognized the official retirement of long-serving county manager Hal Johnson, who served the county in different positions for 48 years.

“Getting ready for today, I just wondered how you sum up in a few minutes, 48 years of a person’s life?” said Chairman Darrell Frye. “And the 48 years of the life that Hal has lived, worked and served among us to the taxpaying citizens of this county. It is something that has never happened before in this county – and I don’t believe in North Carolina – and I doubt seriously that it will ever happen again for someone to have 48 years of service to the extent and all the different roles that Hal has played in that process.”

Johnson was presented with a proclamation from the board recognizing his career and achievements as well as the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest award for state service in North Carolina, and a record within the Senate Journal by Senator Dave Craven for his 48 years of service.

“These have been absolutely historic times for Randolph County and it’s been my honor to have worked with you during these times,” Johnson said. “It’s been a true honor to have served with you all over these past 10 years. … I am honored beyond words to tell you how honored I have been to work with [the county commissioners] and all of you out there.”

Following that, the board appointed Will Massie as interim county manager.

“We’re in the process of doing a major search, but in the interim, we need an interim county manager to make decisions and function in that role,” Frye said. “Will has been the assistant county manager for a number of years along with his work as our chief finance officer.”

The board was then presented with the annual audit report.

“We issued the report Nov. 21, 2023,” said engagement partner April Adams of Cherry Bekaert LLC. “That report covered not only the financial statements but also the single audit that is where the county administers a lot of federal and state dollars. All opinions that we did issue for the county are what we call unmodified opinions. That doesn’t sound great but that is the opinion that you want. It’s also known as the clean opinion and is the highest level that we can give you as an accounting firm that your financial statements are free from material misstatement as well as in compliance.”

The board then dealt with a couple of matters dealing with the naming of roadways.

First, the board passed a resolution supporting the renaming of a portion of Highway 134 in memory and honor of Gary “Poochie” Cox.

The board then held a public hearing to consider names for roads around the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite.

The names under consideration were Michael Lee Lane, Old Red Cross Road, Pierce Denny, Camela Way, Dogwood Lane and Dodson Lake Road.

Following the public hearing, the board approved the six new road names.

The 2022 tourism numbers – the prior year’s report is received in August of the following year – for Randolph County were also presented to the board.

“Locally in Randolph County, our travel generated $178.63 million in visitor spending and that was an increase of approximately 4% from 2021,” said Tourism Development Authority Amber Scarlett. “Revenues in 2022 totalled at $7.9 million in state tax revenues and $4.7 million in local tax revenues. Randolph County supported 1,130 direct tourism jobs and more than $42 million in payroll income. The sales tax generated by travel throughout Randolph County is attributed to tax savings of $86.20 per county resident for 2022.”‌

The board also approved the purchase of six Dodge Durangos ($258,592.98) and three Chevy Tahoes ($171,126) for county emergency services.

Finally, the board approved the transfer of a healthcare grant to Northwest Randolph Human Services Project.

“The healthcare grant that we got through the general assembly a couple of years ago has been on hold and we’ve gotten permission from the state to use that for the Balfour Avenue building,” said finance officer Will Massie. “Both for the purchase and renovation of that. The other thing we got permission to use it for was some of the repayment of the Rural Health Stabilization loan back to UNC Health.”

The Randolph County Board of Commissioners will next meet Feb. 5.

By Ryan Henkel, North State Journal