Woodruff gets high marks

Published 12:18 am Thursday, July 7, 2011

Beaufort County’s newly appointed manager said he is looking forward to his new post and hopes to visit Washington within the next two weeks to meet the county’s department heads and his new co-workers.

“I’m very excited about it,” said Randell K. Woodruff, who begins work as the new manager of Beaufort County’s governmental operations Sept. 5.

Woodruff, Camden County manager, was named Tuesday to succeed former County Manager Paul Spruill, who resigned in April to accept a position with Tideland Electric Membership Corp. Spruill began his new job Tuesday.

“I am very excited about continuing all of the good work that Paul Spruill has done,” he said in an interview Tuesday night after his appointment was announced by Jerry Langley, chairman of the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners.

He was one of four people interviewed for the position, according to members of the county board.

Woodruff, 53, said he was particularly drawn to Beaufort County because of its similarities to Camden County, where he has served as county manager since 2003.

“It’s a coastal community very much like where I live,” he said.

The Beaufort County board voted to hire Woodruff the same night the Camden County Board of Commissioners, meeting some 90 miles away, learned that Woodruff had accepted the new post.

“He’s going to be hard to replace,” said Gary Meiggs, vice chairman of the Camden County board, in an interview after the meeting of the Camden board. “He’s done a great job.”

Meiggs, who has served as a county commissioner for three years, said that during that time, he grew to respect Woodruff for his sound fiscal management.

“He’s just a good man, a good manager and good with people,” Meiggs said. “He’s very fiscally minded.”

Under terms of Woodruff’s contract, approved by the commissioners Tuesday as part of the vote to hire him, Woodruff will be paid an annual base salary of $110,000, or a monthly salary of $9,166.66 in installments at the same time other county employees are paid. When Woodruff earns a master’s degree in public administration, he will receive a salary increase of $5,000, according to the contract.

As head of Camden County’s governmental operations, Woodruff oversaw a budget of about $11 million and a staff of about 72 full-time and 11 part-time employees.

As Beaufort County manager, Woodruff will oversee a general-fund budget of approximately $50 million and, currently, 288 full-time employees along with a countywide water enterprise budget of approximately $5 million with 25 full-time employees.
“It’s sad to be leaving, but it’s exciting to be coming somewhere new,” he said.

Woodruff said he was particularly looking forward to working with Jim Chrisman, assistant Beaufort County manager and finance officer, who has served as interim county manager since Spruill’s departure.

“I am pleased to have someone of his caliber to work with,” he said.

He also said he is looking forward to working with Beaufort County’s “diverse” board of commissioners. Commissioner Stan Deatherage said Woodruff’s appreciation of that diversity made him an ideal candidate for the job.

“Randell is a straight-shooter, and he doesn’t mince words in his understanding of the county manager/county commissioner relationship,” Deatherage said in an email to the Daily News. “I have had the opportunity to meet Randell at county-commissioner conferences in the past, and found him to be the apolitical, regular guy that this board must have in managing the day-to-day activities in a county, with a board of county commissioners, as diverse as ours.”

Commissioner Robert Cayton said that while all the candidates were qualified for the job, he was very impressed with Woodruff’s efforts to plan for the future of Camden County. Cayton hopes Woodruff could help Beaufort County leaders similarly prepare for future building and transportation needs.

“That’s what pushed him over the top,” Cayton said.

During his tenure in Camden County, Woodruff has focused on developing the county’s infrastructure, including construction of a new wastewater system, expansion of the capacity of the county’s sewage-treatment plant and construction of a new elementary school, among other activities, according to a biography supplied by Beaufort County’s leaders.

He was also cited for being heavily involved in the county’s efforts to prevent the Navy from locating an outlying landing field, or OLF, in the county and discussion of an adoption of unified government in the county during 2006. As a unified government, Camden County has some of the powers of a city.

Beaufort County Commissioner Hood Richardson said it was that experience that distinguished Woodruff from the other candidates for the post.

“He had experience in just about everything Beaufort County has dealt with,” Richardson said. “He impressed me from the beginning.”

Woodruff grew up in Emporia, Va., but he has spent his adult life in North Carolina.

Woodruff came to Wilson to attend college, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science from Atlantic Christian College, now Barton College, in 1983.

Before accepting the post as Camden County manager, Woodruff worked in Sanford in Lee County, overseeing that county’s Department of Youth and Family Services, under the supervision of County Manager William Cowan, according to Woodruff’s biography.

Previously, he worked for the N.C. Division of Adult Probation and Parole in Lee County for about 12 years as the chief probation officer and an adult probation officer.

Woodruff said that during his tenure in Lee County, he would often cross paths with Spruill, who was serving as assistant county manager in neighboring Chatham County.

Woodruff and his wife, Fay, have three daughters.