Council picks planning, zoning official to lead Strasburg

Wyatt Pearson

STRASBURG – A familiar face takes the helm of the local government as the next town manager.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Wyatt Pearson replaces Ryan Spitzer, who leaves this week to take the job of town manager in Pineville, North Carolina. Spitzer’s last day is today. Pearson takes over Thursday and will receive a salary of $86,736. Pearson joined Strasburg staff in the fall 2014.

The Town Council voted at its work session Monday to appoint Pearson as Strasburg’s town manager – the third since 2010.

Mayor Richard “Rich” Orndorff Jr. said Tuesday that during the interview process Pearson expressed “a very positive, energetic outlook.”

“He was knowledgeable, as I say, of the projects and we just felt that he was the person to lead us, to lead the community forward,” Orndorff said.

The council followed a similar procedure members used when hiring Spitzer and his predecessor, Judson Rex. Orndorff appointed a committee a few weeks ago after the council accepted Spitzer’s resignation. Vice Mayor Scott Terndrup led the committee.

“What we decided at that committee meeting was that we would open (the position) up to the employees of the town, current employees,” Orndorff recalled. “So we sent out an employee-wide email (asking) that anyone that was interested in the town-manager position from within, they were asked to send a letter of intent to the committee.”

The panel received letters of intent from Pearson and two other town employees, Orndorff said. The committee met, came up with questions and then conducted interviews Monday, Orndorff said.

“We were at it all day long,” Orndorff said, adding that the committee conducted interviews and discussed the applicants from about 8 a.m. to just before the work session started. “So it was a long day yesterday but a very rewarding day.”

“I am very, very gratified that we promoted from within,” Orndorff said. “My goal and my desire was to promote from within and, obviously, I think council felt the same way in the end.

“For me, I think we need some continuity and some stability,” Orndorff added.

Rex served as town manager for about three years. Spitzer worked in the post for about two years.

“It would be my desire that we’d have someone for a little bit longer than that,” Orndorff said. “I’m not looking for a 20-year stint. That would be great.”

Continuity helps the town and someone familiar with ongoing projects doesn’t face the same learning curve as a new employee, Orndorff noted.

The council offered the position to Pearson. He accepted and, rather than go through the process of appointing an interim town manager, the council appointed Pearson to the position, Orndorff said.

Spitzer’s term was to end June 30 and the council would have worked on reappointing the town manager and other appointed officials by July 1, Orndorff explained. Pearson will serve out the remainder of Spitzer’s two-year term as town manager. The council will reappoint the town manager, police chief, clerk, treasurer, town attorney and other officials this summer. Pearson will be up for appointment to his first two-year term that would begin July 1.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com