By Faith Hatton, posted Nov 9, 2023 on BizFayetteville.com
In November of 2022, Cumberland County made the announcement that a new County Manager would be joining the staff, following the retirement of previous County Manager Amy Cannon, who served in the role since 2014.
After he officially began his new position on March 1, 2023, County staff came together under the leadership of Clarence Grier who vowed to partner with County leaders to achieve their goals and vision for the community. Now, after a very productive 2023 and seeing progress such as the planning of the future Crown Event Center, opening a WIC office on Fort Liberty and choosing an architect for the future Homeless Support Center, Grier sat down with the Greater Fayetteville Business Journal to discuss the victories of 2023 and what continues to motivate him to continue to work for the people of Cumberland County.
GFBJ: What about Cumberland County originally appealed to you?
GRIER: I’m familiar with Cumberland County. I went to Campbell University back in the ‘80s and I played basketball and some of our home games were played here at the Crown Event Center, so I was familiar. I always considered the Cumberland and Harnett County area my home. I have a lot of friends in the area and I just feel comfortable, I feel at home.
GFBJ: What made you accept the position of Cumberland County Manager after your last position in Roanoke, VA?
GRIER: I was in the city of Roanoke and it was there that I wanted to be a county manager. And I was in a car accident about a year ago and that made me think I need to move, go ahead and try. So, I decided that I needed to apply and to achieve my goal of being county manager and I was fortunate enough to be selected as county manager for Cumberland County.
GFBJ: Have you always wanted to work in a government position?
GRIER: I’m an accounting major, I'm a CPA actually. All I ever wanted was to be a CPA. Once I achieved that, I wanted to be a finance director and once I achieved that goal, I kind of just morphed into other positions. When I was Assistant Manager, Deputy County Manager, Deputy City Manager, I thought about it and a lot of the things I was doing, I was actually acting as either the City Manager or the County Manager where I was at the time. I achieved everything I could at a deputy level and thought that it was time to try to be a county manager.
GFBJ: What was it like switching from your position as a Deputy City Manager to county manager, were there any growing pains?
GRIER: No, since Virginia cities are independent cities, they have all of the same departments as a city, but also have all the departments as a county. All of those same functions that you would have in a county you have in an independent city in Virginia. The big transition is a level of responsibility, because before I was just responsible for particular departments in the organization, now I'm responsible for all the departments of the organization regardless of if I have assistant city managers, now, the final decision rests with me to take to the County Commissioners.
GFBJ: When you came to Cumberland County, did you have any particular goals in mind?
GRIER: Yes, during the interview process, the board alluded to a couple of projects that they wanted to have handled. One was the Crown Event Center, so I wanted to make sure that the Crown Event Center was approved. Secondly, was a compensation plan for employees that the board just recently approved. Most important, for the time I came on, was making sure that the budget for FY2024 was completed on schedule. Last was getting the Homeless Support Center off the ground. And so, I wanted to make sure that all of those things happened within six to seven months after I got here.
GFBJ: In the original announcement, it was shared that you’ve had experience dealing with homelessness in other communities, what was your train of thought going into that in Cumberland County?
GRIER: I’ve been impacted at a family level by some family members who have been homeless in the past. So, homelessness and dealing with the opioid issues within the County have been issues that are close to my heart. Those two things are dear to me and just trying to find a way in which we can help people in a homeless situation. And I just wanted to make sure that we in this time and age with homelessness [presenting] such an issue, that we found a way to get the [Homeless Support] Center going and moving in the right direction.
GFBJ: This year the County has seen a number of big projects start to become a reality. Is there a specific project that you as an individual are particularly proud to have been a part of?
GRIER: I’m proud of all of them because they all will have a transformational impact on some particular community within Cumberland County. I don’t have any favorites. I'm happy that we're doing all of them because I see what the impact is.
Editor’s Note: These responses and questions have been edited for clarity and article length.
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