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New Statesboro city manager starts work
Penny's first order of business: Learn about the community, meet its people
Charles Penny first day
Statesboro City Manager Charles W. Penny

Charles W. Penny arrived on the job Monday as Statesboro's new city manager.

He said he is now in a learning phase but has hit the ground running as far as communicating with the staff members, City Council members and the mayor.

"I will be spending a lot of time listening and learning, learning about the organization, learning about the mayor and council, learning about the city and the county and the region," Penny said. "It's a lot to take in."

The first week of July is a good time to start a job like this, he said, with normal business activities often slowing a little around the July 4 holiday. City Council helped with this, too, by cancelling its first regularly scheduled meeting of July.

Statesboro's council meetings are often cancelled near holidays, and with Tuesday's 9 a.m. meeting scratched in advance, Penny's first currently scheduled City Council meeting will be the one at 5:30 p.m. July 16.

But he sat down with staff members Monday and they talked about how they will work together. He also talked with Mayor Jonathan McCollar. Penny emailed the five council members and offered appointments to meet each of them individually. He hopes to do so over the next two or three weeks "and talk about what their interests are and what their objectives are," he said.

On Wednesday he will take part in a briefing to bring him up to speed on the Blue Mile plan for revitalization of South Main Street.

From North Carolina

Now 61, Penny previously retired, at the end of March 2017, as city manager in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, which has about 54,400 residents, compared to Statesboro's approximately 31,400. But after retiring he did contract work for the city of Rocky Mount as a consultant during construction of the Rocky Mount Event Center, a 165,000-square-foot facility that opened last October.

He has worked in staff and managerial roles with city governments for more than 35 years.

Interviewed midafternoon Monday, Penny said he was impressed with the people he had met here so far but couldn't say much yet about Statesboro's city business.

"I don't come in with any preset agendas," he said.

He will also be driving around town and visiting department heads and other city employees in hope of getting to know the real Statesboro, including its problem areas, he said.

All of Statesboro

"I want to see all of the parts of the city," Penny said. "One of the things that happens when you come in for a job interview, typically what they show you is all the nice, good-looking things because they're trying to sell you on the community, but we also know that there are opportunities for improvement in every community, so what I want to see are what are those opportunities, so that we can help set our work plan for the community."

But Penny and his wife, Edith, already own a home in Statesboro. They bought it about a month ago, he said, but just moved in Saturday and still had boxes to unpack, with help from some relatives who traveled with them.

Charles and Edith Penny will be married 37 years in August and have two adult children and two grandchildren. The grandchildren are North Carolina residents but are spending July with their grandparents in Statesboro.

Here, Penny is in charge of day-to-day operations for a city government with about 310 employees.

Before the move, he had spent his entire career in North Carolina. Born in Fayetteville, he attained a bachelor's degree in political science from North Carolina Central University and a Master of Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

He is a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.

Chosen by Statesboro's mayor and council in April, he succeeds former City Manager Randy Wetmore, who retired here May 31 but has since been hired as city manager by Bridgeport, West Virginia.