THOMASVILLE — An award presented to Thomasville City Manager Kelly Craver called attention to the achievements of the retiring official Monday, as he was recognized during the regular November meeting of city council.
Craver, who announced his impending retirement earlier this year, was presented the Randall Lake Billings Service Award by the Piedmont Triad Regional Council. Joining High Point’s Randy McCaslin, Asheboro’s John Ogburn and Davidson County’s Zeb Hanner as recent award recipients, the Thomasville manager said he was thrilled by the recognition.
“To be in the same company as those managers is one of the greatest honors that I could ever have,” Craver said. “It’s a very emotional moment, and I appreciate all the efforts that were made to have me considered for this award.”
The Randall L. Billings Service Award is presented annually to recognize a local government employee who has contributed significantly to regionalism. The award is named in honor of Randy Billings, former director of the PTCOG, in honor of his 36 years of dedicated service to the Piedmont Triad region. The award honors an employee of a local government in the Triad who is committed to public service and regionalism.
Craver began his tenure with the city in 1986, when he was hired as wastewater lab supervisor. Moving to private industry in 1990, he returned to city government in 2000 as utilities manager and was named assistant manager a year later. In 2005, then-city manager Roger Bryant and several department heads departed through an early retirement incentive package, creating vacancies that required replacement in short order.
Craver was named interim manager at that time and has served in the capacity since. Now 34 years after he began work in Thomasville government, Craver is preparing to call it a career at the end of the year.
During his award presentation, comments from Mayor Raleigh York Jr. and Councilman Scott Styers were mentioned as reasons for Craver’s honor. York was only a few weeks into his first term as councilman when, as a member of the personnel committee, he was faced with the task of hiring a city manager. He has publicly referred to Craver as a large contributor to the city’s financial recovery during the recession.
Just one year after the recession hit, the city had a large wastewater spill that caused a domino effect resulting in a large volume of unscheduled expenditures. Thomasville has spent close to $50 million in an effort to replace aging water and sewer infrastructure.
Despite the setbacks, economic growth has ensued locally with many new employers moving to the city, while others increased their capacity. Retail merchants have prospered, especially in the downtown area, and Craver oversaw several recreation improvements and the construction of a new police headquarters.
His retirement will come months after the completion of the 40,000-square-foot facility on West Main Street that now houses the Thomasville Police Department. After years of working to acquire property and design the facility, the city moved forward in July 2016 with design services for the proposed facility.
Perhaps the biggest challenge during Craver’s tenure has come in the last several months, as the COVID-19 pandemic wrought extensive health concerns and economic loss.
The city manager heads up Thomasville’s emergency response team and is charged with implementing the governor’s executive orders while also seeking to protect the economic vitality of the community. Styers, current chairman of the personnel committee, cites Craver’s steadying influence as a major factor in the city’s success over the past 15 years.
Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.