County taps new finance chief

Harrison Nicholson

WOODSTOCK – Shenandoah County picked a new finance chief just in time to work on next year’s budget.

County Administrator Mary T. Price announced Wednesday the appointment of Harrison Nicholson Jr. to serve as director of finance. Nicholson replaces Mandy Belyea, who left the position following her appointment to deputy town manager of Woodstock in November. Nicholson will begin his duties Feb. 6 and will receive a starting salary of $76,664.

Nicholson has held a variety of senior-level accounting positions in the private and nonprofit sectors. He most recently worked as corporate controller of Gentry Mills Inc., a manufacturing firm based in Albemarle, North Carolina.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Nicholson, 46, said he grew up in the Toms Brook area and the position presented an opportunity for him to return to the community where some of his siblings live. While he lived and worked in various places, Nicholson said he’s always called Shenandoah County home. Nicholson bought property near Toms Brook shortly after his parents retired in 1999. He recalled camping and riding four-wheelers on the property and he visits several times a year. Nicholson said he thought about retiring in the county, possibly working part time somewhere. Then, in the past five or six years, he said he put more consideration into moving back to the county while still active in his career.

“So I’ve always kinda kept my eyes open and then I saw this position come up and it was a blessing because it combines a great opportunity and gets me back home and it’s an opportunity to serve the people of the county,” Nicholson said.

Nicholson comes on board around the same time that county officials continue their work to create a proposed budget for fiscal 2018. But Price said she’s comfortable with the situation and has resources to help.

“A lot of the planning and a lot of the work will have been done (when Nicholson starts),” Price added. “Everyone has, you know, pitched in and contributed and I’m grateful for everyone stepping up.”

The county received only two applications for the position, Price said. But the decision to pick Nicholson came down to quality over quantity, Price added. The county would have restarted the search-and-hiring process if neither applicant qualified for the position, the administrator added.

Nicholson, a graduate of Strasburg High School, received a finance degree from James Madison University and completed a bachelor’s program in accounting at the University of North Carolina Charlotte. Nicholson also holds a master’s degree in business administration through the Florida Institute of Technology.

Nicholson will oversee the county’s finance department, which includes budget development and management, accounts payable, payroll and benefits processing, debt management, financial accounting and reporting as well as the coordination of the annual audit.

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