Jeff Cash remembers Cherryvilles boom times.
Back in the 1960s and 70s, textile mills hummed and Freight Carriers Corp. was a hometown jewel. Cashs father worked at the trucking company and so did he during high school.
Folks took pride in a small community also known for its churches, winning baseball teams, unique cheeseburgers at eateries like The Shake Shop, and the New Years Shooters, an old German tradition of firing muskets to scare off evil spirits.
Cash had another connection to the city: his grandfather, Meril Cash Sr., was employed in public works department. He was killed in a tractor accident at the water plant in 1971.
Jeff Cash decided to stay in Cherryville and commuted while pursuing a career in firefighting.
In 1979, he joined the Rock Hill Fire Department and two years later worked briefly with the Shelby Fire Department.
By 1981, Cash had found his dream job: working with the Cherryville Fire Department as a driver and firefighter. On Jan. 2, 1986, he became full-time fire chief.
Ive always been a hometown boy, said Cash, 52, whose wife also worked for Carolina Freight . My family, friends and roots are here.
When local officials began looking for a temporary city manager following the departure of David Hodgkins in June, it didnt take them long to decide.
Cashs name was on the end of everybodys tongue, said Mayor Bob Austell. Hes the most qualified and most trusted individual. Hes shown his love and loyalty to this town. I cant lift that guy up high enough.
Transitioning from fire chief to city manager wasnt particularly difficult because Ive had a general understanding of how the other departments operate, Cash said. Its a small city and you always have to pitch in.
Electrical and utility issues were the hardest thing for me to get my arms around, he added.
As the city looks for a new manager and Austell said an announcement from the City Council could come next week Cashs name isnt in the running, by his own choice. While he feels wearing the city managers hat for a while has helped him grow as a leader and manager, itll be great getting back to the fire department, said Cash. God called me to be a firefighter.