June 25, 2013
Greene County has been waiting for seven months to get a new county administrator, and now they are getting acquainted with him.
John Barkley doesn't officially start the job until July 8, but he came to the county administration building on Tuesday in Stanardsville to get acquainted with some of the staff.
"Great staff," Barkley said. "Personable people, people who are interested in doing their jobs, who are planted in Greene County."
Barkley has spent the past several years as the town manager of Round Hill, a town in Loudoun County with a population of 539 people. While there, he focused on bringing high-tech improvements to the town, such as improved cell phone service an online bill payment.
"I've been working in towns for many years in Maryland and Virginia," Barkley said. "I thought this was the best way to make a transition to the county level of government."
Another factor in Barkley's decision to come to Greene County was the landscape.
"The natural beauty of the area speaks for itself," he said.
Barkley's predecessor, Barry Clark, resigned without explanation in November. During the past seven months, other staff members have been filling in the gaps.
"It's been difficult for the staff," said Jim Frydl, the chairman of the Greene County Board of Supervisors. "We haven't had a leader here, so the staff has had to take on that role."
County leaders are anxious to get to work with Barkley, especially to help bring more businesses to the area.
The unemployment rate in the county is 3.9 percent, one of the lowest in the area. But most of those workers commute outside the county for their jobs.
"Seventy-two percent of that workforce leaves Greene County for work," said Frydl. "So we have an educated, hard-working group of people that are ready to be employed locally."
Barkley says he will also be looking out for residents in another way.
"I'm here to make the best use of their tax dollar," Barkley said.