Wilson is new county administrator

Rocky Nimmons/Courier
After more than two decades of service to Pickens County, public works director Gerald Wilson was hired as the new county administrator on Monday night.

PICKENS — Two and a half years after Chappell Hurst retired following more than seven years as Pickens County administrator, county council members are hopeful they have finally found a permanent replacement for the position.

During their regular monthly meeting on Monday, council members voted unanimously to hire longtime county employee Gerald Wilson to take over as administrator beginning in August.

Wilson, who will have a two-year contract, will take over the position from interim administrator Tom Hendricks, who was appointed to the role in February.

Since Hurst’s departure in January 2014, four men have been named to the administrator position at different times, with Hendricks and county finance director Ralph Guarino serving on an interim basis. County council unanimously approved the hiring of Union County, N.C., city manager Matthew Delk for the job in July 2014, but the two sides parted ways the following February, after Delk served less than six months on the job.

Delk’s departure eventually led to a S.C. Law Enforcement investigation after allegations were made by councilman Neil Smith via email to clerk to council Donna Owen that Delk had used county resources illegally. However, no charges were filed.

Several months later, county council voted to hire Transylvania County, N.C., operations manager David McNeill for the job, only to see McNeill decide a short time later that he would stay at his current job.

According to a news release issued Tuesday by Pickens County officials, Wilson “brings a wealth of experience to the position of county administrator, not only in the details of county government, but also in the people and places within Pickens County,” as he began his career with the county as a motor equipment operator in 1992.

Wilson worked his way up the ranks beginning with a 1997 promotion to transportation supervisor for the county’s recycling department, ultimately becoming Pickens County public works director in 2012, with oversight for the county’s roads and bridges, solid waste, recycling, vehicle maintenance, building maintenance, animal control, the county stockade and the engineering department.

Wilson “has proved his loyalty, leadership abilities and dedication to Pickens County throughout his last 23 years of service,” the release said.

County council vice chairman Trey Whitehurst expressed confidence in Wilson’s abilities to handle the position.

“Gerald Wilson has proved time and time again that he has the knowledge and understanding of what it takes to run Pickens County,” Whitehurst said. “We are very confident that he will do a fantastic job and are happy to give him that opportunity.”

Councilman Ensley Feemster said Wilson’s experience over the last two decades of service to the county put him in position to be successful.

“In the one and a half years that I have been on Pickens County Council, I have been impressed with Gerald’s professionalism,” Feemster said. ” He understands technical issues that have to be dealt with, as well as dealing with staff and the public.”

With last month’s primary elections leading to three new faces on county council come January, Wilson expressed excitement about the direction the county is heading.

“I am proud to further serve Pickens County and look forward to working with the new county council,” he said. “I want to thank county council for having faith in me to do the job. I’ll try my best to not disappoint them.

“During the next two years, it will give new council members 18 months to get adjusted to their roles and determine where they want to go with the administrator position after my contract expires.”