Past and current elected officials and employees from all over Western North Carolina joined members of the community last Friday to honor the nearly four decades of public service Jack Horton has given during his tenure in local government.
Horton, who officially retired as Macon County's manager on Tuesday, has spent the last 36 years working in local government all across the state. The Southwestern Community College Annex building was filled with people who have worked with Horton at different points during his career.
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. His impact on the counties he has worked for was evident in the number of people who made the trip to Macon County to wish him well.
“I have had the pleasure of working with Jack at different times during his career,” said Bob Frye, who currently serves as Highlands Town Manager. “I think a good way to measure your success is to determine if the place you are leaving is better than when you got there. And I think that is the case with everywhere Jack has worked. He always left places better than when he got there.”
County commissioners Ronnie Beale, Jimmy Tate, Kevin Corbin and Ron Haven each took time to thank Horton for his contributions to Macon County.
Commissioner Tate, who referred to Horton as a father figure, said the one word who found to best describe Horton was “gentleman.”
Commissioners Beale, Haven and Corbin thanked Horton for his service and for his efforts in progressing Macon County and moving the community forward. “We are now faced with the impossible task of replacing Jack,” said Corbin. “We won't be able to. We won't be able to replace Jack, but we will find another county manager.”
Macon County Sheriff Robbie Holland presented Horton with a rifle featuring a plaque commemorating the dates Horton worked in Macon County. “On behalf of the county's law enforcement officers, thank you for your commitment to my department and this county,” said Holland.
Other county employees presented Horton with gifts, including a Michael Rogers print from the county in honor of Horton's retirement.
“Someone once told me that in order to run fast, you run alone, but if you want to run far, you run together,” said Horton. “And that is why we have been able to go so far because I have had great people to work with to help get us there.”
Macon County's Humane Resource Officer Mike Decker will serve as the county's manager on an interim basis until a new manager is hired.