Robbins Hires Chief as New Manager
BY JOHN CHAPPELL
Robbins has its new town manager, and - even better - he's already on the job.
Town Police Chief Jeff Sheffield, who has been serving on an interim basis as manager since George Hayfield's departure last year, will take the job on a permanent basis.
On Thursday night, during their December meeting, Robbins commissioners met with Sheffield in closed session. When the board returned, it approved a new four-year contract for Sheffield.
Under its terms, Sheffield will continue as both police chief and town manager. Town attorney T.C. Morphis is incorporating details in a final copy for Mayor Lonnie English and Sheffield to sign.
Sheffield "will - for his work as manager - receive 45 percent of the manager's annual base salary. Right now that's about $20,000 extra. It is a four-year contract."
That's a substantial raise; he'd been doing both jobs for just an extra -$25 a week while the town took applications and considered its options.
One clause in the new deal says that the manager will step down if at any point the Town Board is dissatisfied with him as manager - but his job as police chief is protected for the four-year term.
"I'm a big boy, I'm a grown man," Sheffield said Friday. "Anytime this board - or any future board - is unhappy with me as manager, they won't have to ask me twice. Just tell me. I'll step aside."
The town commissioners, who had been pleased with his work, had been asking Sheffield when he'd be qualified for full retirement from law enforcement.
"That would be in 2016," he told them.
That explains the four-year term of the contract approved on Thursday. In 2016, he could retire as police officer, move into a full-time job as manager and hire somebody else as police chief.
Sheffield met with a lawyer, talked things over with his wife, and then came before the board with a proposal during a closed session in October.
"I presented it to the board, and they presented it to T.C. for him to look at," Sheffield said. "You know, there were some changes that needed to be made that I presented to them in October's meeting. The biggest thing was, you know, not affecting my law enforcement retirement."
The new contract guarantees that, but leaves continuing as manager at the pleasure of the board.
Sheffield had good news right away for commissioners in his monthly report Thursday night. Enough contaminated dirt - some 400 tons of it - had been removed from the site of the town's new fire station to clear it. He said subsequent tests showed soil pollutant levels as well within state limits. New fill dirt has now covered that section, which someday will be beneath a parking area behind the station.
The contamination came from diesel fuel used long ago at a sawmill that once stood there beside the tracks of the Norfolk and Western Railway. North Carolina's Department of Environment and Natural Resources is expected to give ready approval now, and construction will resume.
Contact John Chappell at (910) 783-5841 or jfchappell @gmail.com.
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