Hiring by town leaves void in county planner position.
The Town of Franklin will be welcoming a new Town Planner later this month. After Mike Grubermann, current Planner for the town, announced his retirement at the end of last month, Town officials began a search for his replacement, but they didn’t have to look far.
Franklin has selected Derek Roland, Macon County’s current director of Planning, to replace Grubermann later this month. Although a total of three applicants applied for the position, according to Franklin’s Human Resources Officer Ashley Hyder, Roland had the most experience in the planning department.
“I am looking forward to having the opportunity to serve the Town of Franklin as their next planner. I am excited to be afforded another opportunity to serve the community I was born and raised here,” said Roland. “My first priority will be to earn the trust and respect of the citizens of Franklin. I have my work cut out for me, coming after someone like Mike Grubermann, who has done so many things to help the people of Franklin. I want to pick up where he left off and hopefully be able to serve the community at the same exceptional level in which he did during his tenure.”
Roland was hired as the Macon County Planner in March of 2009 and has since diligently worked for the citizens of Macon County.
According to Franklin’s Town Manager Sam Greenwood, the Town’s decision to hire Roland will benefit both the town and Roland. “The requirements for Town Planning can be a lot more detailed and complex than the county because the county is slowly going through the process of developing and changing their requirements,” said Greenwood. “By working with the Town, Derek will have the opportunity to expand his experience in planning while bringing his extensive knowledge of the area. The Town will benefit from the strong local grounding he has.”
After graduating from Franklin High School, Roland went on to graduate from Western Carolina University in December 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Law. During his senior year, he was inducted into the Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society. After College he began selling real estate at Unique Properties of Franklin, and served as a part time substitute teacher at Macon Middle School, where he also tutored children in Language Arts and Science.
Currently enrolled in Western Carolina's Masters Program for Public Administration, Roland believes by working to achieve higher education he will be more well-rounded and well be able to better serve this Franklin community. “While completing my Masters Degree, I hope to bring the knowledge of the functionality of government planning, as well as managing, on the federal, state and local levels back to the Town of Franklin,” said Roland.
Roland plans to combine his education with the experience he gained while serving Macon County in hopes of working with Franklin officials to move the Town forward. “Taking the position as Town Planner will give me the opportunity to bring the experience and knowledge I have gained on the county level to the people of Franklin,” said Roland. “I feel that in my three years with Macon County, I have worked under and alongside many talented and highly qualified individuals who have helped me acquire numerous skills which I believe have allowed me and will continue to allow me to be successful in my position as Planner.”
Reflecting on his career with the county, Roland believes that the greatest difference between working with the county and the town will be transitioning from the county, which is still in the midst of refining their planning ordinances and statues to meet state mandates. The town, which has a locally established and completed planning process, can be more in depth and complex than the county.
“Many things have been accomplished during my tenure with Macon County, including the county’s first ever Comprehensive Plan,” said Roland. “This could not have been done without the planning board, Jack Morgan, Jack Horton, the two County Commissioner Boards under which I served, and the participation of Macon County citizens. Throughout this process, I have learned the importance of public participation in the planning process and that it is the goals of the citizens which should be the driving force behind the decisions of the government. I hope to carry what I have learned as County Planner over to the Town of Franklin in a way that is representative of the citizens of this municipality.”
Although grateful for the opportunity for career advancement, Roland is humbled by being given the opportunities to serve his hometown on both the county and town levels. “Regardless of where I go in my career, I will never forget that the Macon County government gave me the chance to prove myself,” he said.
Roland’s employment with the Town is contingent on the final outcome of his employment screenings (background/drug screen results). Roland’s last day with the County is expected to be March 16, exactly three years to the day after he assumed the position. Once cleared, Roland's first day on the job is planned to be March 26.