Technology can be a friend, and it was certainly that for Angela Christian as she agreed to accept Georgetown County’s offer to be the new administrator.
Christian had gone from her home in Jacksonville, North Carolina to visit and help care for her parents in Dublin, Georgia.
“I was traveling back,” she told the Georgetown Times / South Strand News on Friday. “We literally stopped on the Interstate at a ‘hot spot’” so she could download, read and sign the contract.”
“I knew I was going to be traveling back (Friday). Just having the technology available to be able to do that is good. I pulled over, got up the document, signed it and sent it back.”
Christian expects her first day of work will be Monday, March 30.
Walt Ackerman, director of administrative services for Georgetown County, said that County Council will have to formally approve the contract.
He said on Monday that the plan had been to hold a regular Council meeting on March 24, as usual. With the State of Emergency issued by Gov. Henry McMaster on Sunday, Ackerman said, he wasn’t sure about how County Council would be able to do that.
Within the body of the Executive Order, however, it states:
“Section 4. To provide for and promote the health, safety, and welfare of residents and visitors, I urge that indoor and outdoor public gatherings be cancelled, postponed, or rescheduled, to the extent possible, or limited so as not to exceed one hundred (100) people. This Section does not apply to meetings of state or local government bodies or to private businesses and employers.” (Emphasis added.)
Assuming the vote takes place, Ackerman said, Christian will start on March 30.
“It’s going to be a very busy time,” Christian said, “trying to get settled, get situated, hit the ground running and move ahead. It’s budget time. There’s lots to do, lots of other issues on the plate.”
“I understand we have a great team already in place, and great elected officials.”
“Who knows what’s going to happen with the Coronavirus? What will be the impact on the county?” she asked. “That’s just one more issue on the plate.”
What led you to apply to Georgetown?
“I think there are several things,” Christian said.
“It’s a beautiful community.” Being on the coast is an asset, too.
She acknowledged that Georgetown has its challenges. “It’s poised to have some tremendous things to happen in the community. There are growth opportunities, infrastructure opportunities.”
With Georgetown between Myrtle Beach and Charleston, she continued, “It’s a great transitional area, to grow the community to be a leader for both areas. There are opportunities to expand small business in our area,” she said.
“Also, I think too, we always keep in mind to respect our environment and preserve it for generations to come. Finding that sweet spot.”
Christian’s resume shows that she was Town Manager for Newport, N.C. from 2014 to 2019. Before that, she was Chief Operations Officer and Deputy County Manager for Onslow County, in Jacksonville, N.C. from 2007 to 2013. From 1996 to 2007 she worked in and then led the finance department for Columbus Consolidated Government in Columbus, Ga. In Bristol, Tenn. She was deputy city manager from 1991 to 1996.
Her husband Junie Christian is retired from the U.S. Army after a 24-year career.
When asked about what she’d done since ending her job as Newport town manager, she laughed and said: “Working somewhere? Not where you got paid.”
She’s been doing two things. “One, my parents have some health issues. I’ve been taking care of them. Second, my husband has a consulting business. I’ve been helping with that.”
Over the several years since his retirement from the Army, he’s done a lot of leadership training and management of teams. In Jacksonville, N.C. he ran an organization dealing with domestic violence.
“His name is ‘Junie’ – and it’s a man.” Again, a smile in the voice.
“He won’t be moving immediately,” she said. “He still has some business obligations and some contracts to fulfill. We will be selling a house.”
Initially, she plans to find a place to rent. Later, the couple will look for a place to buy.
The couple has an adult daughter, Sherry, who lives in Craven County, N.C. That’s in the New Bern, Havelock area.
Over the years, Christian said, she and her husband have been in this area as they’ve visited Myrtle Beach and Charleston.
“We took the scenic route several times to visit the area and look around. Little did I imagine that one day I would be the county administrator. We ae very excited about being the administrator.” She said she looks forward to “working with the community to help it be the best it can be.”
Christian was aware that in 2005 Georgetown County was selected as an All America County.
“I think that civic pride, that’s what makes communities work. You remember it, and you can be an ambassador for the community wherever you are.”
Christian knows some issues she will face with the county will be the budget, sales tax and economic development, among others.
“There are still some conversations to be had with council members on their priorities for the county. We certainly have had conversations, but I look forward to more such conversations.”
“We certainly want to be as effective as we can be. That has a lot to do with listening to the community and prioritizing the things that are the most important.”
“I’m just looking forward to meeting the community, not as a visitor but as this is my new home town.”
When Christian begins her first day on the job as county administrator, she’ll be following in the footsteps of Sel Hemingway, who retired at the end of February.
There have been a number of other retirements or job changes among some of the recent county department directors.
Finance Director Ed Kilcullen succeeded Scott Proctor. Kilcullen has been with the county since 2009. Brandon Ellis succeeded Sam Hodge as director of emergency management. County Attorney Wes Bryant left to go to the Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments. He’s serving as interim administrator for the county until Christian is here.
Other department heads include Ackerman as director of human resources and administrative services; Brian Tucker with economic development; Ray Funnye with public services; Boyd Johnson for planning and code enforcement; Beth Goodale with recreation and community services; and Clark Cooper as director of management information services.
The slot for director of emergency services is vacant, but the county’s two fire districts have long-serving chiefs at their heads.
Ackerman said he plans to get the position of county attorney posted and advertised so the new administrator can make her selection in the next month or so.