BLADENBORO — John O’Daniel likes the small-town atmosphere of Bladenboro. He says it’s a lot like his hometown near High Point and “it’s pretty nice when everyone knows just about everyone.”
On Monday, O’Daniel was hired by the Bladenboro Town Council as the new town administrator. The unanimous vote gives O’Daniel, 25, his first administrative position of his career at a salary of $44,266.
“We had a lot of applicants for the position, and we just felt John was a very qualified young man,” said Mayor Rufus Duckworth. “Plus, he will get the benefit of working with two extremely good clerks.”
One of those clerks, Melanie Hester, had served as the town’s administrator since March 2014, taking over when Delane Jackson resigned from the position. On Monday, her earlier request to be returned to her former position as the town’s clerk and financial officer was granted by a unanimous vote. Her salary will be $42,208.
Also in a unanimous vote by the board, Pam Bowen was returned to her former position as tax collector and utility clerk at a salary of $29,979. Bowen had served as town clerk during Hester’s time as administrator.
“This will be an outstanding team,” Duckworth said. “And we all thank Melanie — she’s been our right-hand man and done a very good job.”
O’Daniel comes to Bladenboro after earning degrees at N.C. State in political science and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in political administration. He also recently completed an internship with Chatham County.
“I’m really excited to get to work here,” O’Daniel said. “Especially the more I see the plans for the future of Bladenboro. I already feel right at home here.”
In other action:
— The board approved the Bladen County Comprehensive Transportation Plan in a unanimous vote. Most of the Bladenboro parts to the plan include pedestrian aspects like sidewalks, as well as bicycle paths.
— Unanimous approval was given to renewing the annual contract with the Bladenboro Fire District.
— Carpeting for the town’s Community Building was sent out to bid.
— The board OK’d a new organizational chart for the town administration. Duckworth said the new organizational chart only tweaks things so that the responsibilities are evenly dispersed.
— The town’s Christmas banquet received unanimous approval.
— Recognition was given to the Bladenboro Fire Department, which will host an open house on Nov. 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., starting with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.