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Galax city manager to resign

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By April Wright, Reporter

Galax City Manager Keith Holland announced Tuesday morning that he has decided to resign, effective Oct. 2.

Holland informed City Council that he will be seeking other career opportunities.

He had been employed as city manager since March 2007. Prior to coming to Galax, Holland served as town manager of Rocky Mount for nine years and has been employed in public administration since 1990 in various capacities of management.

Holland holds a master of city management degree from East Tennessee State University.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the people of Galax for the last two-and-a-half years,” he said. “I feel it is time for me to look at other opportunities that allow me to spend time with my family and work in an environment conducive to my personal and professional interest. I wish Galax all the best.”

Holland said he is unsure of his career plans, but is looking at all options — including relocating to another area.

“When I moved to Galax, I thought it would be a good mix for me,” he said. “I like the Southwest Virginia area, and thought it would be a good place to raise my family.”

When city council was searching to fill the position, Holland was one of 60 applicants and five individuals interviewed.

“Keith was the best candidate we had,” said Mayor C.M. Mitchell. “From his experience in Rocky Mount, he served when the town went through the same economic struggles 10 years ago and lost industries. He worked hard to build the economy base and was well-respected as manager and was a good fit.”

In December of 2008, Holland was named a co-recipient of the Virginia Excellence in Government Award by the Douglas Wilder School of Public Policy at Virginia Commonwealth University for his work with The Crooked Road. He has served on the executive board of the organization since 2004 and was instrumental in developing partnerships and cooperation with the local governments within the 10-county project region.

In April, Holland also was recognized by the International City/County Management Association as a Credentialed Manager and is one of more than 1,000 local government management professionals currently credentialed through the ICMA Voluntary Credentialing Program.

To receive the prestigious ICMA credential, a member must have significant experience as a senior management executive in local government, have earned a degree, preferably in public administration or a related field, and demonstrated a commitment to high standards of integrity and to lifelong learning and professional development.

Mitchell spoke highly of Holland, saying he helped refine tourism initiatives, get Chestnut Creek School of the Arts off the ground and revitalize the economy.

In addition to The Crooked Road and Chestnut Creek School of the Arts, Holland assisted with initiatives such as 'Round the Mountain Artisan Network, the downtown revitalization project and the up-and-coming Galax visitors' center.

“Keith Holland came to Galax during a time of great economic stress,” said Mitchell. “He has worked diligently to re-engineer our local economy. One of his important projects has been overseeing the development of the Chestnut Creek School of the Arts. Keith always kept the best interests of the city at heart.”

Mitchell said he, along with city council, wish him the best in all of his endeavors.

“When we had industrial prospectives to come through, Keith was the one to 'show-and-tell' the area, and he did the best he could to sell the region,” Mitchell added. “It's unfortunate the economy pretty much stopped all activity, but now we're starting to get a few inquiries.”

As of press time Wednesday, city council was expected to take action in a called meeting on Thursday to name Keith Barker, assistant city manager, as acting city manager.

Then, council will have to start the process of finding a person to fill the position full-time, said Mitchell.