County manager leaving early

By Eric Butler: CNJ Correspondent

Geneva Cooper has decided to make Monday her last day as Curry County manager, which will leave the county without a manager for just over a month.

Dick Smith won’t start in the county manager’s position until Jan. 3. Ironically, it’s because Smith is not available to begin in December that Cooper has moved up her day of departure.

“When I originally resigned in September, I had told the commission that I would like to leave in November,” Cooper said. “They said that they would like to get someone in, so I could work with that person.

“After they hired Mr. Smith, and he couldn’t be here until January, I asked if I could go ahead and go on my original date,” Cooper said.

Cooper announced her retirement in September and initially said her last day as county manager would be Dec. 17. She said she’s leaving to spend more time with family and “pursue some other avenues.”

Not only is Cooper’s last day on Monday, Assistant County Manager Jimmy Dunn will effectively end his time with Curry County just four days later. Dunn is scheduled to retire on Dec. 10 but will utilize his last week of vacation and leave on Dec. 3.

Three current administrators — Twila Rutter, Lance Pyle and Bernice Baker — within the county will take over the primary chores of the county manager until Smith takes over. Smith was selected as the new manager during the regular Curry County Commission meeting on Nov. 7.

Rutter will handle matters involving grants, Pyle will be responsible for the areas of tort and liability claims and Baker will take care of financial questions.

“They’re things that we normally do anyway. She (Cooper) is just giving us the authority to make a decision on things we would usually take to her for approval,” Pyle said.

Cooper said she has confidence that the interim situation in the county’s administrative arm would be stable until Smith officially enters the picture.

“They’re all very knowledgeable, they know what to do. I have complete confidence in my staff to keep everything going just as smooth as if I were here,” Cooper said.

Cooper, 61, has been Curry County’s top boss for 15 years.