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Nashville hires public works director

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BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Staff Writer

Monday, August 5, 2019

NASHVILLE — Nashville is going to have a new public works director whose resume includes approximately 11 years of local government utilities experience in the Research Triangle area.

Lee Brown, 35, is set to report for work on Aug. 13 after having worked for the city of Durham as a utility system supervisor in the water and sewer maintenance division. Prior to working for Durham’s municipal government, Brown worked for the town of Cary.

Brown is originally from Minnesota, but he has strong connections to Nash County because his wife, Georgia, grew up in the Sandy Cross community southwest of Rocky Mount. Georgia Brown is an N.C. State University alumna and she is director of N.C. State’s athletic business operations.

“And when we got married, we would go visit her folks — and I fell quickly in love with the area,” Lee Brown told the Telegram.

Lee Brown said he and his wife decided once they began to have a family, they wanted to relocate. The couple has two young children.

“As the years have gone by, I’ve kept my eyes on the job boards for something east of Durham,” he said.

Nashville’s public works director position came open approximately a couple of months ago after Jamey Baines, 53, stepped aside after approximately 18½ years with the town to accept a position in the business world.

Brown said he is thrilled to be the new public works director.

“It has been a long road trying to find something out that way in my line of work that I’m interested in, qualified for,” Brown said.

Brown grew up in Lake Crystal, Minn., which is approximately a couple of hours southwest of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in construction management from Minnesota State University in Mankato.

He bid farewell to the Gopher State to head to North Carolina to work in project management with a small Sanford-based commercial construction company.

However, the economy began tanking with the 2007-08 burst of the nationwide housing bubble and the collapse of the financial markets on Wall Street.

Brown decided to switch to working in local government and he said he has been hooked ever since.

“I love being a public servant,” Brown said. “I love showing up for work every day and being a steward of not only the environment, as it relates to water and sewer, but also just serving the public in general.”

He said he began working for Cary’s municipal government in 2008 as a utility technician in water and sewer maintenance. He said he was eventually promoted to work in the town’s water quality department.

He said he began working for Durham’s municipal government in 2013 as a crew leader and said he was assigned to develop and implement a high priority sewer line inspection program within a work group.

Eventually, he moved up to the supervisory position he held until his last day, which was Friday.

He worked in a region that is the home of much brain power.

He noted Durham not only serves the Research Triangle Park, but also Duke University and N.C. Central University, and he said the city has managed those responsibilities well through the years.

“I’m just hoping to bring those successes to Nashville and be a part of it,” he said.

He said as time allows, he enjoys sitting at home playing the guitar.

He also said he has been working the past few months to ready a boat for recreational use.

“And, so, I’m hoping to get that going so I can get it out on the lake or the reservoir when we get out to Nashville,” he said.

Brown was hired to work in Nashville after being interviewed by new Town Manager Randy Lansing and by Town Clerk and Human Resources Director Lou Bunch.

Lansing told the Telegram that he and Bunch interviewed two candidates.

Lansing cited Brown’s degree in construction management, along with his experience with the town of Cary and having worked his way up the ranks with the city of Durham.

“He had the credentials that we needed and the certifications that we were looking for,” Lansing said.

Bunch told the Telegram that Brown is going to be paid $70,038 a year.