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KENLY — Ralph Clark, a seasoned town manager, plans to spend the months ahead helping the Kenly Town Council find a new manager after it parted ways with Michael Douglas.
“I’m here to provide a service to the town of Kenly and the council,” he said. “I’m here at their pleasure, and I’m here to hopefully offer some guidance to them to get them through this period.”
The town council chose not to renew Douglas’ contract after his arrest on a charge of misdemeanor sexual battery.
Clark said his goal in Kenly was to keep the ship of government afloat and moving ahead. By Jan. 1, he hopes to move on to the next interim post.
“Typically, an interim manager wouldn’t come in and try to start new projects or whatever,” Clark said. “We take projects that are underway and keep them moving.”
A native of South Boston, Virginia, Clark has worked mostly in town government since graduating from Averett University in Danville, Virginia. He has strong ties to Johnston County, having spent time as town manager in both Clayton and Smithfield.
In 2007, Clark retired as Kinston’s city manager and then went to work for an electrical engineering company in Raleigh. After a decade there, he left that job to join the N.C. League of Municipalities’ pool of retired town managers who offer to serve as interim managers.
“The League has a pool of retired managers that they call upon occasionally to say, ‘Hey, we got an opening here and (this town) needs some help,’” Clark said.
Before taking the Kenly gig, Clark served as interim manager in several towns, including Morehead City, Wallace, Ahoskie and, most recently, Rose Hill.
As part of his deal with the town of Kenly, Clark will receive no benefits or holiday pay. He’ll earn $50 an hour but plans to work no more than three days a week. The town will reimburse Clark for mileage between Kenly and his home in Trent Woods, a small Craven County town near New Bern.