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Posted on: June 10, 2022

City hires Public Utilities Operations Manager

Dr. Jeff Church

The City of Lenoir has hired Dr. Jeffrey Church as the first Public Utilities Operations Manager in the new Public Services Department.

As Operations Manager, Dr. Church will be responsible for the day-to-day activities of the Public Utilities section of Public Services. Public Utilities is responsible for providing water and sewer services to City of Lenoir and Town of Hudson residents, operating the City's water treatment and sewer treatment facilities, and maintaining more than 400 miles of water and sewer lines and sixteen sewer pump stations.

Dr. Church has more than 32 years' experience working in Caldwell County Schools. Since 2014, Dr. Church has served as the Associate Superintendent for Auxiliary Services for Caldwell Public Schools. In this position, he oversees the daily operations of the county schools as well as child nutrition, maintenance, technology, transportation, and wrap-around services for students and parents. Dr. Church is responsible for managing a $20 million budget, directly supervising 10 staff, and indirectly supervising 1,500 employees. He oversaw construction of William Lenoir Middle School and the new additions to Granite Falls Middle School.

Prior to being promoted to Associate Superintendent for Auxiliary Services, Dr. Church served as Assistant Superintendent for Auxiliary Services. He was also a principal and assistant principal for several schools and a special education teacher. Dr. Church is also an adjunct professor at Gardner-Webb University where he instructs teachers on how to become assistant principals, principals, and leaders in their school.

City Manager Scott Hildebran said that Dr. Church has the skill set and experience he was looking for to fill the Public Utilities Operations Manager position.

"Dr. Church has many years of experience managing people, managing budgets, managing projects, and providing great customer service," City Manager Hildebran said. "I've worked with Dr. Church on various projects and he has always been professional, easy to work with, and focused on doing the best job possible for his students, staff, and Caldwell County Schools. He will be a valuable member of the Public Services team."

During his career in Auxiliary Services with the school system, Dr. Church has worked directly with the City of Lenoir Public Utilities Department, the Caldwell County Water Department, the Town of Granite Falls water and sewer departments, and Baton Water Corporation. He is very familiar with the City's water and sewer system and with the other systems in the county. His experience with building maintenance, operations, transportation, and project management for the schools will not only help him succeed in Public Utilities, it will benefit many other departments in the City. He also worked construction for Taylor Brothers Construction Company during the summers from the mid-1980s to 2001. He did carpentry, masonry, and worked on the steel crew. He's gotten his hand dirty and understands what it takes to install pipe and work heavy machinery.

"Dr. Church already knows a lot of our staff here in Lenoir, and he has relationships with the County and other town leaders as well," City Manager Hildebran said. "His connections, background, and construction experience will be a benefit in his new role as Public Utilities Operations Manager. I'm sure he will bring new ideas and insights to Public Services and other departments in the City. I'm looking forward to having him on staff and getting his input."

Dr. Church earned a Doctorate of Education, Educational Leadership in 2008 and a Master of Arts, School Administration Degree in 1999 from Gardner-Webb. He earned his Bachelor of Science, Special Education from Appalachian State University. He served as President of the Caldwell County Rotary Club in 2021 and was appointed Vice-Chair of the City of Lenoir Planning Board the same year. In 2019, he served as Chairman of the Caldwell County Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee and was appointed Vice-Chair of the Caldwell County Planning Board.

Public Services Director Radford Thomas said he is looking forward to having Jeff on staff in the Public Services Department and on the City of Lenoir team.

“I have known Jeff for a number of years and worked with him on a couple of school related projects like the construction of the new William Lenoir Middle School," Director Thomas said. "His experience, professionalism, and relationships with key stakeholders in the Lenoir community will be a great asset to the City. We also share similar values in managing staff and delivering excellence in customer service to our citizens and customers.”

Dr. Church was born in Lenoir, and his family moved to Hudson when he was six years old. In 1989, Dr. Church and his wife Lynn moved back to Lenoir. They're celebrating their 33rd anniversary this month. The couple has two daughters, Emily and Katie. Dr. Church's grandmother owned the old log cabin on Harper Avenue that was recently torn down. He lived in that cabin as a boy until his family moved to Hudson, and he and Mrs. Church lived there for two years after getting married.

Dr. Church said he's excited to be starting a new chapter in his life and looking forward to working with the City.

"I have relationships with many people at the City of Lenoir and I like the organization. It feels like a good fit," Dr. Church said.  "I  already have good relationships and a good rapport with many agencies in the county, and I think that will benefit the city as we move ahead. I look forward to providing great customer service to the citizens of Lenoir helping the city grow."

Dr. Church's first day with the city of Lenoir will be Aug. 8, 2022.

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