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Column – Stanley has turned out to be a terrific hire

Typically, personnel evaluations are done on an annual basis, but after 10 months I have seen enough. Doug Stanley was a great hire as county administrator of Prince Edward County.

I was skeptical of the hire last October, as were several individuals who called and sent emails after the announcement was made.

Stanley left his previous job as county administrator of Warren County after a $21 million embezzlement scheme in the county’s economic development authority and the suicide of the county’s sheriff. Stanley, who had served in the position for 20 years, was not implicated in any wrongdoing in that situation and worked to help clean up the mess left behind. He was hired as the city manager of Lynchburg, but only stayed 10 days following the revelation of some inappropriate emails.

Stanley has thankfully proven me and all his skeptics wrong in his 10 months on the job as Prince Edward County administrator. He has, so far, successfully rehabilitated his career and helped Prince Edward move forward in the process.

He has done all the right things new administrators do when taking a new position. Stanley spent three months listening and putting together a plan for the county. He then presented that plan to the Board of Supervisors and has worked to put it into place.

He has proven to be a consensus builder as he quickly defused a simmering county vs. town feud with simple communication. His plan to appear at Town Council meetings once a quarter and invite Town Manager Scott Davis to speak to the Board of Supervisors as well helped build relationships. He is doing the same things between the Board of Supervisors and the School Board.

Stanley is smart enough to know that it is easy to yell at people you do not know or understand but much harder to say negative things to people you communicate with on a regular basis.

He was not helped by some key initial resignations and retirements on the county staff but pushed on to build a strong team.

In his first year on the job Stanley has:

• Established a priority list of capital improvement projects the county needs to complete over the next several years.

• Passed a 4-cent tax increase to supply approximately $600,000 in additional annual funding to check some of those projects off the list.

• Launched a crusade to clean up county roadways using VDOT contractors and/or prison inmates.

• Hired a new economic development/tourism director to drive business to the county.

• After the county initially received some criticism for not having a vaccine plan, he worked with the town to use the PEFYA gym for semi-weekly vaccinations.

• The county also launched possibly the most aggressive marketing campaign for vaccinations in the area. I won’t hold it against Stanley that not enough people took advantage of the opportunities to protect themselves from the virus.

• Found funding to provide $2,000 scholarships to 10 Prince Edward County students who received vaccinations.

It’s not just this list of items that have made Stanley a refreshing choice for Prince Edward County. His talk of zero-based budgeting, the way he advocates for county employees and his realization that he ultimately works for the Board of Supervisors shows the county is benefitting from Stanley’s wealth of experience as a leader in local government.

The Board of Supervisors did Stanley no favors by leaving his past issues out of the initial press release announcing his hire. If they had been upfront and said they understood what happened in Warren County, but expressed confidence that Stanley was a solid administrator who deserved a second chance, that would have been much more helpful to both them and Stanley.

But ultimately, the Board of Supervisors got this very important hire right. That’s good news for Stanley and more importantly for the citizens of Prince Edward County.

ROGER WATSON is editor for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. His email address is Roger. Watson@FarmvilleHerald.com.