Robbins Hires First Town Manager
Robbins has its first town manager.
The town commissioners voted unanimously to hire Brant Sikes, the former public works director, after returning to open session Tuesday night following a series of recessed and resumed closed personnel sessions over several weeks.
He will serve at the pleasure of the board pending details of his contract, which the board will work out with the help of Town Attorney Douglas R. Gill of Southern Pines. The Town Board interviewed Sikes Tuesday night.
"We talked about their expectations, their concerns, my concerns," Sikes said. "We talked about what the General Statutes (of North Carolina) say a manager's job is. A manager works at the pleasure of the board to carry out town policy and manage every aspect of the town."
As of Wednesday morning, all employees of Robbins -- the fire and police chiefs, police officers, maintenance workers, clerical staff and others -- work for Sikes. He now has the authority to hire and fire employees, with the exception of the town attorney. The board hires the town attorney.
"That's pretty much it," he said. "It encompasses a lot."
When Sikes arrived for his interview, he said he had no idea it was even possible that he could be offered the job so quickly.
"I am elated," Sikes said. "But I am still in shock, because I didn't realize how far it was going to go. I didn't think it would be overnight."
Commissioners directed him to start bright and early the next day.
Mayor Laura Ann Brady met with employees Wednesday morning at 10:30, but Sikes was on the job as soon as the doors of Town Hall were unlocked.
Town Clerk Debra Cockman rustled in her office to find a key for his office. Sikes sat for a time at the empty desk in the front corner room but said he would move his headquarters from his basement spot only gradually. It will take time for the change to sink in, and there is a lot of work to do.
"I am honored, so honored," Sikes said. "It is a very big responsibility."
Robbins amended its charter last summer to move from a mayor/council form of government to the manager/council form.
The Town Board then began its search for the right person to fill a job many see as crucial to Robbins' economic progress. At the same time, the board itself changed, losing several commissioners and having to appoint their replacements.
Buddy Robinson resigned because the change created a conflict of interest, since he was also a town employee. Mayor Mickey Brown resigned, and mayor pro tem Brady was later sworn in, succeeding Brown. Her seat as a commissioner was then filled by Angela Hall.
Sikes will have two important vacancies to fill right away. One is his former job as public works director. The other is finding a new town clerk to replace Cockman, whose last day was to be Friday, Feb. 2. She has taken a new job in technical support at Southern Software in Southern Pines.
The CEO of the company is former Carthage mayor Larry Caddell, now vice chairman of the Moore County Board of Commissioners. Cockman will support towns that are using town management software she has been using at Robbins for nearly a decade.
The commissioners said they had come to rely on Sikes for his honest, unvarnished reports on town problems and challenges. Robbins has a surplus of water and a huge debt incurred to improve its water and sewer system to meet the needs of a poultry processor (their biggest water customer) which then shut down.
Like many small towns in North Carolina, Robbins has older infrastructure that needs updating. Sikes had worked with the board on plans for dealing with this. Now he will work with other Moore County municipalities, the county commissioners and the Moore County Summit on countywide solutions.
John Chappell can be reached at 783-5841 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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