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City taps Knox
Department head to be No. 2 official
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Wayne Knox, Martinsville’s director of community development, has been promoted to assistant city manager effective today.
Knox will continue overseeing city planning, zoning and housing programs while taking on additional duties, said City Manager Leon Towarnicki.
He said Knox now will have the combined job title of “assistant city manager/director of community development.”
Knox, 66, has managed the community development department since June 1995. He has overseen community revitalization projects, housing and rental assistance programs, and city zoning and subdivision ordinances, as well as helped with numerous other city projects, a news release showed.
In recent years, department heads have doubled as assistant city managers. That included Towarnicki while he was public works director and former city finance director Wade Bartlett, now Prince Edward County’s administrator.
This fiscal year, though, the city budgeted $128,385 in salary and benefits for a full-time assistant city manager.
In an interview with the Martinsville Bulletin last April, Towarnicki cited the need for a full-time assistant due to his heavy workload, as well as because there might not be anyone in city government able to step into the role of interim city manager if he had to be out for an extended period.
Many department heads are reaching the point where they can retire due to their ages or years of service, Towarnicki said in the interview.
Towarnicki said Tuesday it was decided to have a department head also be assistant city manager again after looking at qualifications of applicants and because the new budget year that will start July 1 is expected “to be about as difficult as in previous years.”
Knox was chosen, Towarnicki said, because his “experience and background in project and grant administration are a good match for the city’s needs at this time.”
“We’re at the point now in which (development) activity is beginning to pick up” in Martinsville, and officials are looking for sources of grants more often to help pay for projects, Towarnicki said.
He indicated that a big part of Knox’s job will involve securing grants. Until now, he said, departments have looked for grants on their own. Coordinating such efforts through one person will make grant-seeking more thorough and may give the city a better chance of receiving money, he added.
Reached away from his office Tuesday night, Towarnicki said he did not immediately recall what Knox’s new salary will be.
Still, he said Knox “obviously will get” a raise to reflect his extra duties.
Knox could not be reached for comment.
Before coming to Martinsville, Knox was director of planning and community development for Dinwiddie County.
Before that, he worked for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp., now NeighborWorks America, a congressionally chartered organization that supports community development activities in localities nationwide.
That job took him to many large cities across the nation, including Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, he recalled in a 1996 interview.
A native of Reading, Pa., Knox has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Cheyney University in Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from Penn State University.
Towarnicki said Knox works well with other city staff members and is well-liked and respected in the community.