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News Town of Highlands names new town manager

Robert Frye“After quite a number of candidate interviews, he was our final choice,” says Highlands Mayor David Wilkes. On Monday, the Town of Highlands announced it had offered the Town Manager’s position to Robert A. (Bob) Frye.

“With a few details yet to be worked out, we have offered him the job, and he has accepted,” said Wilkes.

Frye spoke by phone with Macon County News shortly after the announcement, saying, “I am looking forward to becoming Highlands’ Town Manager.”

The details, according to both Frye and Mayor Wilkes, are minor in nature: a finalized employment contract and a starting date.

Frye, 49, has more than 20 years of experience in local government. He was employed as the Town Administrator for the Town of Sawmills from Oct. 9, 2000, until Sept. 14, 2010. Sawmills, in Caldwell County between Lenoir and Hickory, has a population of about 5,000. It employs a mayor-council form of government. Frye, who served as town administrator, says the primary difference in that form of government and Highlands’ manager-council form of government is that in the mayor-council form, the council retains hiring and firing authority over town employees.

Prior to Sawmills, Frye was employed by Watauga County as Assistant County Manager/Operations Services Director from February 1996 until November 1999.

Frye started his career in local government at the Region D Council of Governments in 1987 as a regional planner. His professional experiences include: grant writing, economic development activities, land use planning, environmental planning, solid waste operations/planning, bid specifications development, municipal budgeting, municipal water/sewer operations and general municipal managerial activities.

He has graduated from a variety of UNC Institute of Government courses, including county administration. His educational background includes a B.A. in Political Science from N.C. State University and graduate level courses in Public Administration at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

“The two main characteristics we were looking for were management skills and accounting/ budgetary knowledge,” said Wilkes. “Frye had both. He was an excellent interview and had a good background. He was calm and straightforward in answering the board’s questions.

“He has had experience in operating water and sewer systems and electrical systems. The only thing he hasn’t had experience in is directing a police force. I believe the county took care of that in Sawmills.”

In Highlands, the town manager has firing and firing authority over all department heads with the exception of the Police Chief and the Planning/Zoning Administrator.

Frye is single. He plans to begin searching for a home in Highlands this week.


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