Tryon splits town manager/fire chief positions

Published 9:56 pm Thursday, February 18, 2016

By Leah Justice

The Town of Tryon is now seeking a town manager after council decided to split the current joint manager/fire chief position held by Joey Davis.

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Council met Tuesday, Feb. 16 and following a closed session voted unanimously to split the position.

Commissioners gave Davis a choice of which position he wanted to keep and he chose to stay on as the fire chief.

Davis said the decision to split the positions was something that was the desire of the town council.

“When given the choice I opted to return to the fire department, which is the original position the town hired me for,” said Davis, “and where I’ve spent 20 years of my career.”

Tryon Mayor Alan Peoples said commissioners decided to advertise for a new manager and wants to have somebody in place by the first of June.

Peoples said the decision to split the positions began with the last board of commissioners. He said what was happening was when there were a bunch of fire calls, Davis was not able to do a lot as the manager and when there was a lot to do as the manager, he couldn’t be the fire chief.

“Both are 100 percent, full-time jobs,” Peoples said.

Peoples said especially during budget preparation time it is extremely difficult, as Davis would have to complete a fire department budget and at the same time prepare the entire town’s budget.

“There just weren’t enough hours in the day for two full-time jobs,” said Peoples.

Tryon first hired Davis as its full-time fire chief in 2007. The town decided to name Davis permanent town manager in May 2013 with Davis also at the time keeping the fire chief and town code enforcer positions. Tryon has since hired a community development director to take over the code enforcement and other duties.

Davis twice served as interim town manager following the town firing two town managers prior to hiring Davis.

Davis was appointed in February 2013 as interim manager following the town firing former manager Caitlin Martin (now Caitlin Martin Cothran, who is Landrum’s City Administrator). Davis was also interim manager after the town fired Justin Hembree, who was Tryon’s manager from January 2009-January 2012.

At the time, town commissioners said the town would save money by having Davis hold dual positions, which he had done for a total of 13 months prior to being hired as the permanent manager.

Peoples said Davis has agreed to continue to be the town’s manager until a new person is hired.

Peoples said in seeking a new town manager, he is looking for someone who is strong in finance and able to work with all citizens and town employees.

Peoples also said he’s always looking for someone who will stay in Tryon at least five years. The average town manager in a small town stays three to five years, Peoples said.

“I would love to have someone who wants to retire here,” said Peoples. “I’m always looking for experience.”

The town plans to advertise the position for a couple of months, then narrow the selection down to begin interviewing people and make a selection from there. The salary for the new manager will depend on the person’s experience, according to Peoples.