Bill Carroll – Class of 2012
Town Manager, Drexel, NC

The citizens of every city or town, large or small, expect that they will be provided with basic services, and the town manager is the person who oversees and makes sure that all of that magic happens. Utilities, fire, police, the basic needs of the citizens – all are important to the day to day living of the residents. In January 2024, Bill Carroll assumed his new duties as town manager of Drexel. “It is my responsibility,” he explains, “to be the administrator of all of the departments in the municipality and to provide quality public service to the residents.

“As the highest staffed person in the town organization, I must work with the elected officers, including the mayor and the board of aldermen, to help fulfill their vision for the community. But along with those responsibilities comes visibility. When a resident has a problem, a complaint, or a suggestion, I am the one who usually hears about it. It often seems that I’m a little bit human resources, a little bit counselor, and a little bit the complaint department. Working with people is a very important aspect of the job.

“I have always had the desire to work in public service. I have never been interested in the for-profit route. At first, I considered entering politics but later was encouraged and inspired to pursue a career in local government. I am fulfilled by seeing a project, large or small, brought to its completion. For example, if a young mother is having difficulty taking her children safely across the street on their way to school, seeing that a proper crosswalk is put in place does a public service and gives me satisfaction. Knowing that when the residents turn on their faucets each morning that they have clean and abundant water and that electricity is available, making sure that the fire department and the police department have what they need to keep the people safe, being a good steward of the taxpayers’ money, and using our resources well for the good of the people – all of these are examples of the work that is rewarding and fulfilling.”

There are challenges, of course. “Maximizing services for less money is always a challenge. We cannot neglect our duties even when resources are strained. Another issue is workforce development. Not a lot of young people are aspiring to go into local government. I think they would find it a very rewarding field, so more should explore the possibilities. And being new to this position, I am enjoying learning about the town, the finances, the staff, the citizens, and the expectations.

“As a young student at Lenoir Rhyne University, I wasn’t sure what field would be the best for me. I tried accounting and business and finally settled on a degree in Political Science and Law. One of my classes, Urban and Economic Development, was taught by Mick Berry, who was the city manager of Hickory. He was particularly influential in my career path. Conversations with him convinced me that I could have the most positive impact on people’s lives by going into local government where I could work one on one with individuals.” While at Lenoir Rhyne, Bill enjoyed being a member of the Model United Nations organization and continued to participate for four years after graduation. He was also chosen as the Outstanding Student in Political Science. He then continued his education by earning a Master's in Public Administration in 2019 from UNC-Chapel Hill, whose public affairs department is listed as one of the finest in the United States.

“While still in school, I was able to secure a paid internship in the city of Belmont where I worked directly with the city manager on a variety of exciting projects. One important project was helping the police department of Belmont become certified with CALEA (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies). This international organization is known as the Gold Standard in Public Safety and is reserved only for the towns that meet their rigorous requirements. The police chief in Belmont was looking for a person not involved in law enforcement to help with this challenging project, and they hired me full time as policy office director. I worked side by side with the chief and command staff writing policy and working toward meeting the goal of accreditation for the city police department. Our hard work paid off as Belmont became one of the smallest cities in the state to achieve this prestigious status and remains accredited to this day.

“Then the city manager called me and asked me to apply for the job of Assistant Public Works Director. Soon after, the Belmont City Public Works Director retired after 25 years on the job, and I was asked to take the job. This opportunity came just at the world was shutting down because of Covid, and as a young person, I had much to learn on the job. But I accepted these conditions as challenges and was determined to prove that I could do it. Managing a team of 65 full time employees, I oversaw storm water management, sanitation collection, utilities administration, and streets administration. We also moved into a new facility, and I had to manage the transition. I helped supervise a budget of $13M and learned a great deal about such subjects as codes, building inspection, pothole repair, tree removal, and sidewalk management – all helpful knowledge.

“I am especially pleased with the grants that I was able to secure for Belmont. The biggest grant was for $200K through the governor’s highway safety program to cover the full cost including vehicle and personnel for a much needed DWI officer, Two other public works grants, $150K each for water utility and sewer utility involved asset inventory assessment, updating mapping, and capital improvements, and the work was almost completed when I left. I hope to use my experience with grant writing and implementation to be of service to the community in my new position.

“Leaving Belmont was the most difficult decision that I’ve ever had to make. I loved the town, the employees, and the citizens. But it was the right thing to do for my family, and I am eager to bring the experience I gained there and be of service here in Burke County.

“My experiences as a student at East Burke were also meaningful. I played tennis for all 4 years; we had good teams and good times. Our coaches, Jim McCormick for the first year and Gilbert Guittard during the other three, encouraged and inspired us to do our best in every way. David Anderson, my German teacher, was also our swim coach. When I think back, I remember how he taught us responsibility, commitment, and follow through. Brian Bowman strongly influenced my love of history, especially American history. I enjoyed being in several of his AP history classes and will always consider him to be a great influence.

“My goals for the future include doing my best to get the town of Drexel back on the map. During the days of Drexel Heritage Furniture, Drexel was a well-known and thriving town. Through the development of the property where the furniture plant once stood, we can begin to bring the town to life again. I am eager to bring business and industry back and welcome new residents. I want to continue to serve the public and to bring better service to our area. I hope to leave the place better than I found it. The sky is the limit for our future and for my role as a public servant. Who knows what may happen? Perhaps someday I’ll manage a large municipality. But whatever path I may take, I know I want to continue to grow in the role and continue to work toward helping my community prosper and making the world a better place.”

Published March 2024

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