After nearly four decades working in local government, County Manager Jack Horton officially announced his retirement during last night's commissioners’ meeting.
Horton's career in local government administration began on Feb. 9, 1976, in Swain County. Thirty-six years later, Horton has served in three counties other than Macon and has even served two years as a city manager.
"With my service in local government now more than 36 years, the time has come for me to make the difficult decision as to how much longer I intend to work in this capacity," said Horton. "I have enjoyed my tenure with Macon County as your county manager. I am thankful for the support, and respect I have received from the Macon County Board of Commissioners, our county employees, and the citizens of Macon County, but the time has come for me to consider retiring from my profession and to pursue other goals and objectives that I have long ignored or postponed. It is my intent therefore to retire from my position as your county manager Oct. 1, 2013.""Jack Horton is without a doubt the best manager in North Carolina, and if you ask anyone in the state, they will tell you the same thing," said Commission Chair Kevin Corbin.
“I am confident that the decision to hire Jack in 2008 was the best, most important decision I have made as commissioner," said Commissioner Ronnie Beale. "He has done lots of things for Macon County and not enough great things can be said about him."
"You have always done good by us and have helped us figure things out," said Commissioner Ron Haven.
During the announcement of his retirement Tuesday night, Horton summarized his career and focused on his tenure in Macon County.
“During my career, I have served on a multitude of boards and have had the privilege of working with literally hundreds of dedicated department heads and county employees," said Horton. "It has been my pleasure to serve Macon County on two different occasions, first, from October 1985 until March 1991, and currently since January 2008. I am indeed proud of the many accomplishments that have been made since becoming your county manager.”
During his first run as Macon County's manager, Horton lead several initiatives including the construction of the Business Development Center, the Southwestern Community Center Public Safety Training Center, and the Macon County Public Library; sited and permitted the current sanitary landfill; and made several school improvements.
Since 2008, Horton has been an advocate for education improvement in Macon County.
"Together we have constructed three new schools, Mountain View Intermediate, Macon Early College, and Iotla Valley Elementary," said Horton. "We also expanded East Franklin Elementary School, renovated Nantahala School, renovated and made improvements, including a new soccer field to the Highlands School, and made improvements to Franklin High School. We were also able to provide $1.5 million for county-wide school system information technology upgrades."
Horton also worked to improve the county's overall infrastructure through projects such as completing the Little Tennessee/ Cartoogechaye sewer interceptor; widening of Highway 28; completing the Riverbend and Swiss Colony water projects; extending the Macon County airport runway and adding a new solid waste transfer station in Highlands.
"I am pleased that we have cultivated a good working relationship with the board of education and our municipal governments of Franklin and Highlands, and I sincerely hope the joint meetings we started will continue in the future."
In addition to touting all the work he and current and past commissioners have done over the years, he mentioned the importance of an overall good working relationship.
"Over the past five and half years, with responsible planning, Macon County has consistently maintained one of the lowest property tax rates in the state, while maintaining a strong fund balance, providing a consistent level of service to our citizens and increasing our bond rating from an A to an A-plus," he said. "These things don't just happen by accident, they happen because people of vision work together toward the common good for all citizens."
Horton has agreed to aid commissioners in the search of a replacement, which will begin immediately. A reception for Horton will be announced at a later date.