Chris Carter spent this week continuing to learn more about the City of Georgetown, meeting more of the city staff and planning for his first Georgetown City Council meeting which was held Thursday evening.
Carter is Georgetown’s new administrator, replacing Chris Eldridge who left last May when he was hired as Horry County administrator.
He assumed his new role on Feb. 7 and spent the first week being shown the ropes by interim Administrator Carey Smith whose final day was Feb. 14.
Carter is the sixth full-time administrator in the city’s history. The first administrator, who began in October 1977, was David Treme. The others have been Mitchell Sizemore, Boyd Johnson, Steve Thomas and Eldridge. There have been two interim administrators — Miles Hadley and Smith.
In an interview with The Georgetown Times this week, Carter said he has found a place to live — an apartment on Highmarket Street. But he will likely find a bigger place when his wife, Joan, joins him this summer.
She is a teacher at Flat Rock Middle School in North Carolina. She has agreed to complete the current year and then hopes to find a teaching job in Georgetown County.
“She has never lived on the coast, so we have both been excited about it. Georgetown is a pretty place,” he said. Carter has nearly 25 years of experience in government work.
He began in 1988 as the town administrator in North Wilkesboro, N.C., a position he held for six years.
Carter said that era of his career provided him with experience working with different types of businesses because it was the national headquarters of both the Lowe’s Corp. and the bank that is today Wells Fargo.
“It was a mixture of manufacturing and banking,” he said. “In fact, more people came into the city to work than actually lived there.”
In 1994, Carter accepted the position as the administrator in Hendersonville, N.C. He said his time there provided him with experience in two key areas that will help him in Georgetown.
He said Hendersonville, like Georgetown, is a “full-service city,” meaning it has city-owned electric, water and sewer service. It also has a thriving historic district.
One year after being hired in Hendersonville, Carter helped create the city’s first historic preservation plan. He said during his tenure, several locations were placed on the National Register of Historic Places and some were designated as National Landmarks.
He said, like Georgetown, the city had periodic tours of historic homes.
“I love the tour of homes. It is a great educational effort for historic preservation,” Carter said.
He said Hendersonville also gave him the opportunity to oversee police and fire departments that, at the time, were similar in size as the ones in Georgetown.
“Hendersonville was mainly a retirement community and the retirees wanted to see police on the streets,” he said. “They have a downtown that is kind of like this.”
In 2008, Carter left Hendersonville and spent about a year as the interim administrator in Sylva, N.C.
His final job before moving to Georgetown was the administrator for the town of Williston, S.C., a position he held for a little more than two years.
Carter said in his brief time in Georgetown, he has discovered it has some great attributes.
“That harbor and the downtown area are great,” he said.
He said he would like to see Georgetown become a more popular stop for boaters.
“I hope the city can take a more active role in maintaining the harbor. It is a great area for recreational boaters,” he said.
Carter said even though he has been in Georgetown for only two weeks, he has given a lot of thought to areas he hopes to help improve.
“I would like to see an improvement in the quality of housing throughout the city. And I would like to see the use of the industrial port increased,” he said.
Carter said during his walks downtown and his tours of other parts of the city, he has noticed the number of vacant buildings. He said it is his goal to not only get the buildings occupied but to have a waiting list of businesses wanting to come into the city.
On a personal level, Carter said he is the type of person who tries “not to act without all of the facts.”He also said “sometimes by directness gets me into trouble.”
Carter said he hopes he will be able to stay in Georgetown until he retires.
By Scott Harper
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