Spring Hope Town Manager John Holpe officially announced his retirement Monday night after a closed session meeting during the Spring Hope Board of Commissioner's meeting. Holpe's retirement will be effective December 11, 2015.
Holpe was named Town Manager on February 6, 2006, completing a 43-year long career working with local government agencies.
Holpe says he plans to sell his Spring Hope home and then move to the Winston Salem area.
"I've really enjoyed my time in Spring Hope. I was kind of semi-retired when hired here," said Holpe, "It's really worked well for me, I hope it worked well for them. I've enjoyed working with all of the board members. We've had a lot of challenges and opportunities, but we got a lot done and made a lot of progress."
Holpe said he will assist the board with the hiring process of a new town manager and will initiate the application process soon with hopes to begin interviews by the end of September. The target start date for a new manager is January 4, 2016. He continued that hopefully this process will eliminate the need for an interim manager.
Spring Hope Mayor James "Buddy" Gwaltney, III said the board wishes him well, "We wish him well in his retirement, he served the town for nine years," said Gwaltney. "We've been happy with his service for the past nine years and wish him a long, happy retirement."
Gwaltney said Holpe's retirement is of no surprise as the board was aware he hoped to set a date this year. He said Holpe will assist the town in the search for a new manager. "We gave him a list of characteristics we're looking for in our new town manager," he said, "John will do the preliminary reviews and will work hand-in-hand with our town board."
In other business, Spring Hope commissioners unanimously approved an interlocal agreement Monday night which will hand over the general operations of the town's park to Nash County. Spring Hope currently pays $7,000 annually to Nash County for recreational programs. The 30-year contract will now include maintenance and capital improvements at the same cost annually for the first 10 years. The cost will increase to $8,000 annually for years 11-20 and $10,000 annually for last ten years of the contract. Either party can terminate the contract at anytime during the 30-year period with a six month written notice.
According to the contract, Nash County will be responsible for "the construction, repair, purchase and installation of existing and future capital improvements (and related fixtures and equipment) at the Town Park, including but not limited to fencing, lighting, shelter, dugouts, irrigation system and restrooms."
Nash County will report suggested improvements annually to Spring Hope and the expenditures will be funded through the annual payments to the County. The contract states "All such Improvements shall be and remain the property of the Town. In the event the Town's Annual Payment and Reserve Account is exhausted or is insufficient to pay for the cost of the Capital Improvements incurred in a year, the Town agrees to reimburse the County for any excess expenditures through the Town's Annual Payment for future years."
Nash County will also reap any revenues generated by the park from fees charged for programs, activities and events administered by the County or any third party organization at the Town Park. Anyone interested in reserving the park for events will now contact Nash County Parks and Recreation rather than the Town of Spring Hope.
Holpe spoke to the board suggesting the contract will give the Town a stable budget for the park. He said the town would benefit knowing its annual cost for the park rather than getting hit with surprises for maintenance costs. He said there is still a lot of maintenance and improvment needs at the town's park and it's difficult to come up with the additional funds each year for those expenses. "The objective is to be able to have the park maintained, and all repairs when needed and to keep our amount as consistant as possible throughout the year," said Hople.
During the board's discussion, some of the concerns brought forward included current grant funding and public use. Nash County Parks and Recreation Director Sue Yerkes was at Monday night's meeting and assured the town board that Nash County is familiar with the grants. She also said assuming the responsibility for the improvements and maintenance will keep Spring Hope consistent with the other areas served by Nash County.
Holpe assured the board that Nash County will have control of the park but the Town will maintain ownership and nothing should change with the public use of the park, "On paper they're going to be solely in charge of running or operating the park, but it's still the town's park.
Spring Hope's attorney, Mark Edwards, informed the board that Nash County Commissioners will also have to review and approve the contract.
The board also unanimously approved a request Monday night to redirect $20,000 of funding from its STEP budget reserved for business recruitment into a fund for additional improvements to be made to the town's community building.