After two and a half years, Chase City Town Manager Angela Lawrence announced this week that she will step down to accept a new job in the Shenandoah Valley area. Ms. Lawrence, who started in Chase City in December of 2016, expects her last day on the job in Chase City to be on July 3.
Speaking on Friday afternoon, Ms. Lawrence said that she had not actually been look- ing for a change; she had “seen something come up on the internet and I looked at it. It was the only resume I had put out there and it worked out.”
Her new location, she said, would allow her more opportunity for hiking along the mountains, one of her favorite pastimes.
“Council accepted my resignation with regrets,” said Lawrence. “They’ve been very supportive.”
Looking back on her time here, Lawrence said that she had enjoyed her time in Chase City and felt pleased with some of the accomplishments made while here.
“It’s been a good experience for me,” said Lawrence, “and I think for the majority of people in the town. We’ve made a lot of headway. I’ve been able to be active in a lot of projects and community activities.”
Over the last two and a half years, Lawrence has become a fixture at community events, working with local organizations and even learning how to call Bingo at the local fundraising event.
Asked about her initial impression of the community, Lawrence said the town had made a good first impression.
“People were friendly,” said Lawrence, “They have a strong sense of community and where they came from. But,” she added, “people would ask why I was here, more curious than welcoming. I know people feel pride in their community, the people who have lived here for a long time. But,” she added, “they wondered why I would want to come here and that is unfortunate. I want people to be welcoming and to feel good about coming here and being here.”
Lawrence said that she felt her most significant accomplishments during her time in Chase City had been in securing grants for the ware- house-historic district and commercial properties. That, she said, can help lead to people working to redevelop those properties and help spur economic development in the community.
She said she was also proud of the fact that a citizens group had formed and has been actively working and discussing ways for Chase City to bring more growth and development into the town.
“Chase City needs to come up with a new vision to reinvent themselves in a new way. I would suggest tourism and travel and related businesses but we also have high-speed internet and that people can work from anywhere. Chase City has potential.”
Lawrence said that while it was not as exciting as some of the other projects, a major effort has been made to update town codes and policies. “We’re not done with that but we’ve been making headway.”
Asked about her biggest disappointments, Lawrence smiled and replied, “That I wasn’t able to see those things to the end and see some real development in the community.”
Lawrence added that while she had some regrets about leaving, she is looking forward to starting her new job.
“I’m at the point in my career and life that quality of life is important to me. I’m going to a small town in the Shenandoah Valley near the mountains and surrounded by farmland. It’s beautiful. It’s a small population, but there are more jobs and industry. I’m going somewhere I can hike and bike on the weekends, things that I love.”
She did add, however, that she would miss the friends and connections she had made during her time in Chase City.”
“Since announcing my resignation, I have received so many kind messages. It touches me that so many in the community accepted me and appreciated what I contrib- uted alongside the wonderful people in the community.”
In a prepared statement, Chase City Mayor Eddie Bratton praised Lawrence and said that the town would be hard pressed to find anyone with the experience and qualifications she had brought to the job. He also called out the idea that to serve the community, someone has to have been born and raised in the community.
The full text of Mayor Bratton’s statement is printed below.
“The Town of Chase City is losing the best Town Manager it has ever had. There are some in the com- munity who state that if you are not from our town, you have no standing in the community.
Ms. Lawrence has done nothing but try to make her- self a part of our community in professional ways and through the established organizations such as MacCallum More and Chase City First Events II. Additionally, she joined the Woman’s Club of Chase City, the Mecklenburg YMCA, serving on its Board of Directors, the Chase City Chamber of Commerce, attended as many local activities as possible within our town, and reaching out to other towns and organizations where potential benefit was perceived. She initiated a program for the business people of our town entitled “Economic Sustainability” to foster creative input from a variety of our citizens and interested individuals. She has been dedicated to posting information and news about Chase City on the Town’s Facebook and WEB pages.
It is very nearly an absolute that in order to have leadership that holds no allegiances to any group within the town, we have to hire a competent individual from beyond our town limits. Combine that with the need for hiring someone who has achieved sufficient education and practical experience to be able to keep our town operating within the rules of good conduct. The prob- ability of finding such within our population is extremely remote.
We, in the Town of Chase City, who actually care about our town, are going to miss her guidance and determination to succeed. It will be a daunting task to find someone who approaches her skills and determina- tion to do the right thing. The plans for how the job will be filled in the short term and long term are still being determined so there is no specific action yet by the mem- bers of the Town Council. Angela Lawrence has shown us what a Town Manager can be and she has done so in a relatively short time. Her impact will be remembered. Last Thursday evening, Ms. Lawrence tendered her res- ignation to the Town Council and it was accepted with great regret.”
Lawrence’s last day will be July 3.