GASTON COUNTY A new Gaston County manager with economic development expertise has been hired and will start work in early January, county commissioners recently announced.
Earl Mathers, 63, has served as county administrator of Gallatin County, Mont., since August 2006. Hes also worked in Washington, D.C., as well as on international development projects in Lithuania and Romania.
Commission Chairman Mickey Price said the board was unanimous in its decision to hire Mathers and called him a well-rounded individual.
Hes got extensive background in economic development, Price said. Weve been looking for any kind of help we can get in that direction.
County Commissioner Jason Williams said that with the hiring of Mathers, we wanted to send a clear message to the business community and to the citizens of Gaston County that we are serious about job creation being our top priority. We want to make Gaston County even more business friendly.
He (Mathers) brings an unwavering focus on results, a respect for the will of the Board of Commissioners and consistent attention to organizational excellence, Williams said. This, combined with his innovative and fiscally conservative approach to using taxpayer monies, will help move Gaston County forward through the extraordinary challenges for years to come.
Assistant Gaston County Manager Phil Ponder has served as interim manager since a shakeup in government six months ago.
In June, Gaston commissioners voted 4-1 to accept the resignation of County Manager Jay Winters, who said he was forced out. The action followed the boards approval of a 3.5 cent property tax increase, the first in 12 years.
Some commissioners said they had been disgruntled with Winters for a while.
A native of Ohio, Mathers has a masters of public administration from the University of Wyoming and is certified as an Economic Development Finance Professional by the National Development Council.
Mathers led the creation of five local and regional community economic development programs in the United States and Lithuania and was a founding delegate to the Rocky Mountain Trade Corridor.
Mathers said he and his wife, Kallie, visited Gaston County and were impressed by the warmth of the people and by the area itself.
Calling the Gaston job a tremendous professional opportunity for me and my wife, Mathers added that the move will also place them in closer to three of their four children, who live in Virginia.
Gallatin County Commission Chairman Joe Skinner said: Were sad to see Earl leave.
Hes been a big help to us and brought a lot of professionalism to the job, Skinner said. Hes given us innovative ideas and management skills that we very much needed. Were happy for him but a little bit regret(ful) hes leaving.
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