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New Dobson manager onboard and ready to go

Dobson residents and businesses recently got a chance to meet their new town manager, during a meet-and-greet Friday, but it was far from the first day on the job for Jeff Sedlacek.

The town’s board of commissioners hired Sedlacek in December, and he officially started his new post on Jan. 3, at the start of the new year.

Sedlacek, who grew up in King, was familiar with Dobson before applying for the job. He attended Surry Community College while working on his degree, before transferring to Appalachian State University.

The town manager’s post came open in June, when Laura Neely left the post after being appointed as finance officer for Surry County. The town board appointed town clerk and assistant town manager Misty Marion as interim until the board hired Sedlacek.

Sedlacek had been serving as strategic initiative manager for the Cleveland County government in Shelby since November 2021. Prior to that, Sedlacek was a management analyst for Cleveland County and earlier served as a budget consultant for the town of North Wilkesboro.

“I saw the position through the league of municipalities, I’m originally from King, this was a good opportunity to get a little closer to home.”

Competition for the Dobson opening was fierce.

“We had 60 to 70 applicants,” said Dobson Mayor Ricky K. Draughn. “We had some real good candidates; he was the top. He just had a lot of good ideas, the way he presented himself,” Draughn said of some of the factors that impressed the commissioners. He said the background checks came up spotless, and the folks he had worked with all had good things to say about their experiences working with Sedlacek.

Sedlacek said he has enjoyed his time thus far in the county seat.

“I was fortunate enough to get the position,” he said of the town manager post. “I’m grateful for it, grateful for getting a chance to meet the great people here.” He said he has been spending a good bit of his time over the past two months meeting with the board, learning the goals of the board members, and familiarizing himself with the townsfolk.

Sedlacek said when he started college at SCC, he initially hoped to become an attorney.

“Then I saw the price tag of a law degree, that was shocking.” Not long afterward, he attended a manager’s program, where he was able to meet with and interact with a number of town and city managers, where he began to refocus his career goals.

He said being creative, working with various governmental agencies and partner organizations attracted him to the field.

“You just have a number of services that require you to leverage a number of avenues to serve people. The vastness of government is what attracted me to it.”

In Dobson, he said his main job is to carry out the vision of the board of commissioners. While there are a multitude of areas to focus on, he said there are three primary areas at present — sewer service expansion, the streetscape program, and community development.

“I think our biggest priority right now is our sewer plant upgrades,” Mayor Draughn said. He explained that while the town’s sewer plant does have some room to increase service so the need is not critical, he said implementing upgrades could be a timely process.

He explained the permitting process from state officials could be lengthy, followed by needed engineering studies, then searching for grants and other sources of funding could take two years or more.

“I may be too optimistic with that,” he said of the timeframe.

Sedlacek explained the town’s plant is rated by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to handle up to 350,000 gallons a day, and the town is generally between 60% and 70%, although periods of heavy rainfall can raise that even more.

“We’re not at capacity, but it’s time to start thinking about it (expansion). At 90% you get a formal letter from DEQ, and you have to find a way to increase capacity.”

As usage climbs closer to that limit, he said the opportunity for business and industrial growth could also be limited.

The good news, he said, is that where the discharge is released near Cody Creek, the allowable limit is 850,000 gallons, so there’s plenty of room for growth there, it is just a matter of expanding the sewer plant operations.

“When business looks at a community sewer and water infrastructure is one of the top three things they look at,” he said, adding that power availability and internet service are the other two.

While he and the board will be looking at ways to upgrade the sewer plant, he said there are plenty of short-term tasks to keep him busy and help make the town successful.

“One of the other biggest things is working with closely with various community partners. I’m looking forward to learning the partners…to being part of the community.”



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