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Hickory finance chief gets Lincoln position

SARAH LOWERY
Staff Writer

County Manager George Wood announced the appointment of a new finance director at the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners meeting Monday night.
Deanna Rios, currently the finance officer for the city of Hickory, has been selected to run the county’s Department of Finance, replacing Leon Harmon who retired last week after a 38-year career with the county.
Rios has been at her post in Hickory for five years, having previously served as the assistant finance officer for more than five-and-a-half years. She also served as the finance director for the town of Sawmills for two years.
Additionally, she is a certified public accountant licensed within the state and a North Carolina-certified local governmental finance officer, a designation earned through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Government, according to a news release sent out by Wood’s office Tuesday.
She has a bachelor’s degree in taxation and a master’s degree in business administration (with a concentration in taxation), both from California State University at Sacramento.
Rios told the Times-News Tuesday that the interview process was a very positive one and that she looked forward to working with Lincoln County officials.
“It was a good experience,” she said, adding that she hadn’t gone through an application process in about 11 years.
She also noted that she was excited to try something different, saying that going from a city finance office to that of a county would involve some changes.
“I looked at it as a new challenge,” she said.
In the release, Wood stated that Rios is “extremely well-qualified for this position.”
“She has both the educational background and significant work experience in local government accounting and finance,” he continued.
“She is a seasoned professional who I am confident will provide solid leadership for our financial operations. We look forward to her joining the county’s management team.”
Rios will begin her new post as finance director on March 1.
In other board action at Monday’s meeting:
Commissioners conducted a special presentation for Eagle Scouts Tyler Heavner, Spencer Byers and Alex Fox.
Commissioners conducted three zoning public hearings regarding proposed amendments to the Lincoln County Unified Development Ordinance, a request from Iron Station Thunder for a conditional-use permit to sell vehicles on a 13.3-acre parcel of land on Major Lane in Ironton Township and a request from applicant Melissa Lefler for a conditional-use permit to operate a kennel on a 1.5-acre parcel of land on Commerce Drive in Catawba Springs Township. The Planning Board voted unanimously at its separate meeting to approve each request, with conditions attached, and will bring its recommendations before commissioners at the next meeting.
Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution ordering the advertisement of delinquent real-estate property tax liens.
Commissioners unanimously signed off on bids for the replacement of the cooling tower at the Lincoln campus of Gaston College. The contract will be awarded to Lakeside Heating and Air for roughly $60,000.
Commissioners further discussed the legality of the invocations given before their meetings. County Attorney Wesley Deaton reviewed the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling banning sectarian prayer at Forsyth County Board of Commissioners meetings and advised commissioners on the word choices that would be considered a violation of the Constitution, saying that generic references to “God” would be allowed. He noted that the commissioners’ options would be to stop praying completely, to say nonsectarian prayers or to conduct sectarian prayers outside of the official meeting, meaning the prayer could not be said in the room of the meeting or be included on the agenda.
Chairman Alex Patton said he doesn’t want “to purposely violate the law,” but he also said he had never received any complaints over the prayers, having instead received many thanks. Commissioner Carrol Mitchem suggested they carry on “business as usual,” and the other commissioners ultimately agreed. Patton said they “will continue on” and see how it plays out, and he commended his fellow commissioners for taking a stand.

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