Dumfries hires interim manager

It’s not a permanent solution for Dumfries, but it does help.

David Whitlow of Ashland has been named Dumfries interim town manager.

“I’m excited about being here,” Whitlow said. He spent much of his first day meeting with the town’s department heads and then touring the town with Mayor Melvin “Mel” Bray.

“[Whitlow] is a very sharp man,” Bray said. “He’s not interested in the permanent position. He wants to come here and help us out.”

Whitlow has most recently served as town manager of Ashland for the last two years. Before that, he was the King William County administrator for 13 years and worked in a number of municipal planning positions in the years prior.

Bray has been filling both his role as mayor as well as that of town manager since mid-January when the former town manager, Ron Waller, retired.

The Dumfries Town Council agreed last week to hire Whitlow on a 30-day contract.

“We’ll see what happens after that,” said Whitlow, who began work Thursday. “This is an interim situation and that’s what I want.”

Spring is a busy time for a town, Whitlow said, with the preparation of next year’s fiscal budget being one of the foremost duties he intends to tackle.

“[Preparing the budget] will take up the bulk of the time I’m here,” Whitlow said.

Keeping ongoing projects such as grants and the issuance of a bond for storm water management improvements on track will also be among his duties.

“Finally though, my primary task will be to push the council as hard as I can to get a permanent town manager as soon as they can. It will be better for everyone.”

This is not the first time Dumfries has sought the help of an interim while it searched for a new town manager. After Mike Riley resigned in September 2000 following a firestorm of controversy with some members of the council, the town hired two former managers to split the job.

Tom Huggard of Culpeper and Brack Bentley of Front Royal worked for Dumfries from October 2000 until April 2001 when Waller was hired.

Finding a permanent town manager also is not a first for Dumfries.

Over the last 10 years, Dumfries has had five town managers. Of them, two were fired, two resigned after disagreements with the Town Council and one retired.

Bray said most of those who have applied for the position this time around are aware of the past problems.

“They already know about Dumfries’ history with its town managers. It’s probably not the most favorable,” Bray said. “If they don’t, I give them a head’s up on it. I think you have to be honest about it.”

Bray said the town has received a large number of applicants for the position with more arriving every day.

“I’m still getting them,” Bray said. “I can’t believe people are so interested in this town.”

Staff writer Aileen Streng can be reached at (703) 878-8010.

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