Maggie extends contract for town manager
Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen unanimously approved entering into negotiations with Nathan Clark on Tuesday for a one-year contract to serve as town manager.
Clark, the town’s planning director, has served as interim town manager since Tim Barth resigned in early October.
Alderman Phillip Wight made a motion at the meeting to extend Clark a one-year contract with a six-month performance evaluation.
“We’re on the cusp of a new board,” said Mayor Ron DeSimone, adding that he thought the new board members, who will be sworn in Dec. 5, should make those decisions.
Wight said that he was impressed with the job Clark had done so far and that he wanted to offer him more than just an interim position. He described him as honest, transparent and trustworthy.
“I don’t want to overlook an asset right under our nose,” Wight said.
Alderman Mike Matthews seconded Wight’s motion and Alderman Saralyn Price also was in favor.
DeSimone said he was willing to enter negotiations but wanted the new board to be able to work out the details.
Wight said he was fine with allowing the new board to work out the details.
When asked for his input, Clark said he appreciated the board’s confidence in him to handle the job.
“It’s an uncomfortable thing to talk about in public. The details should be discussed in a closed session,” he said. “If an offer is extended unanimously, I would like to enter negotiations.”
The board approved Wight’s amended motion.
In other business, the board discussed a conflict of events at the festival grounds. Clark said the Smoky Mountain Antique Tractor Club has held their event at the festival grounds for 14 years and always book the same weekend in June. The tractor club is booked for 2014 and under current town policy, it has first claim to the same date in 2015.
However, The Oasis Shrine Center approached former festival grounds director Audrey Hager several months ago about having the Shriners’ three-day event at the festival grounds during the same weekend as the tractor club’s event. Both event organizers said they couldn’t change the date of their events.
Todd Ham with Oasis said the Shriners’ event had been held in Blowing Rock for the last several years, but they were interested in moving it back to Maggie Valley. He said the parade and ceremonial event is estimated to generate $600,000 in revenue for the local economy. He estimated that the Shriner members would need at least 4,000 hotel rooms.
Clark said after a difficult discussion, the festival grounds advisory committee voted to approve the Oasis event for 2015 because of the potential economic impact. But the staff recommendation is to keep the tractor club event.
DeSimone said he would like to accommodate both events, but he was not in favor of ousting an event and organization that had been loyal to Maggie for 14 years.
Matthews said it was a tough decision because the tractor show was a local favorite but the Shriners would bring in more revenue, which is the goal of the festival grounds.
Price noted that the festival grounds were meant to provide a venue for the local community too.
The board unanimously approved the Oasis event contingent on accommodating the tractor event as well.