By Hannah Lester
Lee County welcomed a new county administrator at its last commission meeting — Holly Leverette.
Leverette will take over from Roger Rendleman, who served as county administrator for over 20 years.
The new administrator comes from Montgomery, where she served as the city’s director of risk management. However, she has been a Lee County resident since 1993.
“I knew that Roger was going to be retiring and I told my supervisor, ‘If that job ever comes open, and when he retires, if they don’t have somebody set for that job, I’ll apply for it.’ Just because it’s more of a management type job.”
When the application for the job initially opened this past summer, Leverette missed it — she said she returned from vacation the day it closed and had decided against applying.
However, the application was reopened in September and she took the leap.
“I’m sitting at work one day in September and my husband sends me this text and it’s a copy of the job opening and he said, ‘well, I guess they didn’t get what they wanted.’ And so at that point I said, ‘okay, I’m going to apply for it.'”
Leverette had two different interview sessions with commissioners in order to not violate the open-meetings law. Additionally, she met with Probate Judge Bill English and former County Administrator Rendleman.
She was then asked to attend the Lee County Commission meeting in December and answer some more questions on record. During an executive session, the decision was made to hire Leverette.
The new administrator said she didn’t know any of the commissioners before this process.
“I think that gives me a chance to form my own working relationship with them and my own expectations and feelings about how things are going to be,” she said. “And I think it gives them the same feeling working with me.”
Leverette said her first goal is to get to know the county and the system. Not only is she a Lee County resident, but she took the time to go back and read the minutes from previous Lee County Commission meetings.
She attended сounty сommission meetings in Montgomery but said that it never felt like home.
“I’d sit in those commission meetings and I listened to all the groups come up and ask for help with funding and all of that and I never felt a connection to those groups because I didn’t live there,” she said. “It’s not my home. It was my home and I think that’s what I thought was that I’d be going back home. But I forgot that it’d been twenty years since I had been home. Even though my mother still lives in Montgomery, I’m not there. And so I found that very hard. And so that’s the one thing I’m really looking forward to is being able to be back in the community I live in.”
One of the bigger county issues Leverette will be faced with is the American Rescue Plan Act funding.
Leverette has some experience with this area — she managed the CARES Act funding for Montgomery County.
“That’s one thing that I’m really hoping that we can be absolutely sure we spend every penny of ARPA money that we have coming to us,” she said. “I don’t want to give anything back to the federal government.”
Leverette’s first day of work was Jan. 4 and her first commission meeting will be Jan. 10.
“[I want people to] know that my decisions are my decisions, they’re not personal,” she said. “They’re business. I told my bosses in Montgomery County and this is how I feel about Lee County. I was hired to do a job, not make a lot of friends. Now, I’m very relational so I want those relationships and I want to build friendships but my primary job at Lee County is doing a job and managing these projects and making sure that I’m being a good steward of the taxpayer dollar.”
Outside of work, Leverette keeps busy. She is married and the couple have a daughter, Faith, who will start the pharmacy program at Auburn University in the fall.
Leverette and her family travel, in addition to running a small business on the side — University Carpet Cleaning — that they’ve owned for 21 years.
She and her husband also own rental property in both Opelika and Auburn.
As she steps into the new role, Leverette said she has been welcomed by county employees.
“After the meeting, when we were outside and they went back into another executive session, I can’t tell you the number of department heads that came up to me, some of them giving me their phone number, wanting me to put their phone numbers in my phone immediately, introducing themselves,” she said. “Just a very warm, welcoming feeling. So that really showed me the support I’m going to have. So, I’m looking very forward to that. And being back home … I’m a communicator, so I absolutely love to talk to people, I love to get to know people on a personal level and I’m very open. I’m very transparent so what they see is what they’re going to get.”