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Nash County hires economic development director

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NASHVILLE — Nash County commissioners reelected their officers Monday and introduced the county’s new economic development director.

With no challenge or dissent, Robbie Davis was reelected for another one-year term as board chairman and Wayne Outlaw was reelected as the board’s vice chairman.

County Manager Zee Lamb introduced Andrew “Andy” Hagy to the board and county staff as the new director of economic development, effective Jan. 1.

Lamb said the county had received 70 applications for the position. A screening committee interviewed four or five candidates and narrowed the final selection to two. Hagy was the unanimous choice, he said. Hagy’s salary will be $115,000.

“It’s great to be here,” Hagy told commissioners. “Nash County has a lot to sell. I’m excited to get started.”

Hagy, a native of Virginia, has been executive director of the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corp. in Maxwelton, West Virginia, since 2016, promoting economic development in three counties.

He previously served as national project manager for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and was economic development director for Spotsylvania County in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He was also head of The Hagy Group, an economic development consulting firm in the Richmond area, where he promoted economic development, commercial real estate and government relations.

Hagy has a bachelor’s degree in public relations and mass communication from Virginia Commonwealth University and an associate degree in business from Southwest Virginia Community College. He also completed the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute.

“I think you will find Nash County a nice place to work,” said Davis.

In other business Monday, the board granted another six-month extension for the conditional use permit issued for the Spring Hope Solar 2 facility on Frazier Road, which has faced delays working with Duke Energy, but turned down a general rezoning request for 163 acres on Stoney Hill Church, Whitley, and Chapman roads in the Green Pond area from R-40 to RA-30 single-family residential, which would have allowed cluster development of 20,000 square-foot lots.

A sketch plan of Williams Ridge Subdivision, phases one and two, by developer Cecil Williams had been approved by the county planning board for cluster development of 20 new residential lots along a road on a portion of a recently rezoned tract. But commissioners have not been comfortable with cluster development and said they did not want to approve more rezoning for that purpose until Williams has completed the development of what the county has already approved and commissioners can review the result.

Spring Hope Solar Farm 2 is one of three solar farms on adjacent lots on Frazier Road approved several years ago. Plans for one of the farms were dropped, and Solar Farm 3 is now under construction, commissioners were told.

After other routine business, the board adjourned until it holds a joint meeting with the Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education at 6 p.m. Dec. 11 at Nash Central High School.

In their comments prior to adjourning, commissioners made it clear they were still not in favor of the school board’s desire to hire a project management firm instead of an architect to design a new $20 million elementary school meant to replace Swift Creek, Cedar Grove and Red Oak elementary schools.

Using a project manager will add an additional $622,000 to the cost, commissioners argue. The county board could not attend a Nov. 21 meeting set by the school board to hear a presentation by the proposed project management firm, and no decision has apparently yet been made. Commissioners said it will be up for discussion on Dec. 11.

“Why pay them a large amount of money when it is something we can do ourselves?” Commissioner Fred Belfield complained.

Davis agreed, but he was also concerned about continuing complaints over the need for updates to the county’s detention center and criticism that the county wasn’t moving fast enough to respond. The county has hired a consulting firm to evaluate the jail and make recommendations for what is needed.

“This board is very much concerned about our jail, its operation and its facilities,” he said as he ended the meeting. “We do not take it lightly. We’re moving along as quickly as we can.

“We’ll continue to work with our sheriff’s department,” he said, “but we can’t do it by ourselves.”