Former Lincoln County Manager George Wood has been appointed to lead Buncombe County on an interim basis.
Wood, who directed Lincoln County for five years before retiring in 2013, is walking into a tumultuous situation as Buncombe County’s third manager in the past year. Mandy Stone retired abruptly earlier this month after replacing former county manager Wanda Greene, who is facing federal criminal charges and is being sued by the county for allegedly forging the signature of former Buncombe County Board of Commissioners chairman David Gantt to fraudulently acquire hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars through county credit cards, retention incentives and life insurance policies.
“I did the same thing over in Wayne County after I retired from Lincoln,” Wood said. “I was out about eight months and then went back to work as the interim manager in Wayne County. In that case, they asked me to come out of retirement and I did, but I’m not going to do that here. I’ve been in the interim role before and basically my job is to come in and kind of settle things down, while giving guidance on some things and making sure that the projects and initiatives that they have going on don’t fall through the cracks so that everything stays on track. I’m also there to try to give the board of commissioners some good guidance on policies and whatever issues come up.”
In addition, Wood will be assisting the county in its search for a new, permanent county manager but, in the meantime, he will be meeting with staff and various department heads to get a grasp of the county’s needs. Wood hit the ground running on Wednesday after his appointment during Tuesday’s meeting of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners and is slated to serve until Feb. 28, or until a new manager is hired.
“The first thing you do, whether on an interim or permanent basis, is have one-on-one meetings with the department heads and the board of commissioners so that you get a good grasp of what the issues are and what initiatives they have going on,” Wood said. “Once you compile all of that information, you’ve got a pretty good idea of where everything stands with the county.”
Wood, a Georgia native, comes to Buncombe County with roughly 35 years of local government management experience across the southeastern United States. He led Lincoln County through the recession and plans to continue assisting counties in need on an interim basis once his stint in Buncombe County comes to a close.
“I’ll probably do this for a few more years on an interim basis before I finally retire for good,” Wood said. “There are a number of us retired managers that do this to just step in and help in situations where we’re needed.”