Dean takes position for Town of South Hill

Lawrenceville Mayor Scott Martin, left, thanked Lawrenceville Town Manager C. J. Dean for his service to the Town of Lawrenceville. Dean is taking a position with the Town of South Hill as Director of Municipal Services. (Sylvia Allen/Brunswick Times-Gazette) This photo was taken at the March council meeting before the COVID-19 crisis. Council honored Randy Spence for his 42 years of service to the Town of Lawrenceville and CJ wanted Mr. Spence to have the spotlight instead of him – so like CJ.

LAWRENCEVILLE – C. J. Dean accepted a position as Director of Municipal Services for the Town of South Hill overseeing the wastewater plant, public works, parks and recreation, and building and grounds. He started working for the Town of Lawrenceville as a Water Plant Operator Jan. 2, 1990, and was named Lawrenceville Town Manager July 2000, following Doug Pond. His last day is April 2. Everette Gibson was named Interim Lawrenceville Town Manager. 

Dean is very proud of the accomplishments the Town of Lawrenceville has made. The Dream 2000 project started by Doug Pond is still being implemented. New brick sidewalks, streetlights and curbs are being installed now on South Main Street by Clary Construction Company. The project was implemented in phases and Dean feels the sidewalk project has been an asset to the downtown area. 

Dean said in the past the town purchased used police cars but now purchases new cars, utilizing grant funding in some cases. 

Dean said the water plant was built in 1964 and upgraded in 1997 to accommodate the private prison. He served as Assistant Director of Public Works. Capacity increased from 1 million gallons per day to 2 million gallons per day. In 2014 the facility was upgraded again to accommodate Dominion Power increasing capacity from 2 million to 3 million. 

Dean said another accomplishment was changing from 1.5-2 inch water pipes to 6-inch water pipes. He said this addressed maintenance issues. 

Dean said in 1990 the wastewater treatment plant had a 6 million gallons per day capacity. In 1997 capacity was upgraded to 1.2 million gallons per day. In 2016 measures were taken to enhance the quality of wastewater leaving the plant. Dean said the town is reaching capacity but the town has plans to go from 1.2 million to 2 million but funding would have to be arranged. The estimated cost for the upgrade is $10 million. 

“If we had a company interested we could go to bid and have the plant constructed within 2 years, which is a good thing,” Dean said. 

Dean said the town has spent money preventing water from entering the wastewater treatment facility. 

Dean said the town changed to a radio read drive-by system. Before it took 3 people working a week to read the water meters and now one person reads the meters in half a day. Alberta, Meherrin River Regional Jail, and Southside Virginia Community College are a part of the system. The largest water uses is Lawrenceville Correctional Center. 

Dean said while water and sewer are essential to economic development in addition to broadband, electricity and natural gas. 

Dean thanked council for supporting the upgrades. He said another accomplishment has been the major improvements to the parking lot behind the Brunswick County Library. Dean said there is electricity installed to install a stage. 

“Council had the vision and we implemented it. They have been very supportive,” Dean said. 

Dean has served under Mayor Keith Clarke, Mayor Bill Herrington and now Mayor Scott Martin. He wanted to thank Mabel Brewer for her support. 

“Mrs. Brewer recommended me for the job when I had just graduated from college. She and her husband Wilbur, Mr. Rawlings and Mayor Doyle were also supportive,” Dean said.

Other accomplishments include seeing the completion of the first, second, third and now fourth phase of the Tobacco Heritage Trail, town incentives have been implemented, remodeling of the old fire house, upgrades to the Lawrenceville Volunteer Fire Department equipment, working with Brunswick County - the Green Acres and Simmons Drive neighborhoods now have water and sewer service and new roads, and the historic overlay opens the door for owners to make improvements and utilize of the second floor of buildings as well as take advantage of tax credits. 

Dean said leaving was a difficult decision to make. 

“I have spent my career trying to improve things here. It’s hard to leave relationships because everyone has been so good to work with. I hate to lose that. I feel this is a great opportunity. I have left the door open to help Lawrenceville,” Dean said. 

Dean said another accomplishment was forming the Lawrenceville Economic Development Authority. He said families had buildings they wanted to get rid of and they donated them to the LEDA. Dean said council can own property but can’t sell property other than public auction. Another asset is the Morris A. Bloom building that houses the Cancer Research and Resource Center of Lawrenceville that is owned by the LEDA. 

Dean said challenges include upgrading the sewer facility. Also updating the downtown area is another challenge. Dean and Councilman Phil Gilson traveled to Saint Paul’s, Virginia in December to get ideas on revitalization. Another challenge is finding a use for the former Saint Paul’s College campus located within the town limits, that covers approximately 20 percent of the land area of the Town of Lawrenceville. The impact of the college closing is having a negative impact on the town. A task force has been formed to study possible uses for the property. 

The Brunswick Correctional Center closing was a negative impact on the town. Having qualified employees is another challenge. 

Dean ended the conversation talking lovingly about his wife, Michelle, who teaches kindergarten at La Crosse Elementary School and two sons, Dwight, a junior at Virginia Tech majoring in agribusiness/economics, his major, and soil science, his minor, and Owen, a junior at Park View High School. Owen also served as “Stewie” at the Brunswick Stew Tour kickoff held recently. 

Colleagues wish Dean much success

We asked several people to share their thoughts on working with Dean. 

Councilman H. B. Brockwell, Jr. said, “Lawrenceville has been fortunate to have a town manager with the water sewer background he has for 30 years.  His knowledge of water and sewer has been a valuable resource and asset.  The town has learned over the years that when working with engineers and consultants his input should not be taken lightly.  I have often said to others ‘if CJ is not happy I am not happy,’ We will miss him daily as 65 to 75% of his time is spent with water and sewer issues.  He has learned over the years how to use his resources for the betterment of the Town.  It is always interesting to hear what others are saying about “what is the town doing to get business back in the buildings downtown”. CJ has brought grants to the town that maximize our dollars and assist building owners as well as street and light improvements, sidewalk and safety projects, parking lot improvements, water run off issues, pipe upgrades, etc  

“CJ has investigated the success of many Main Street projects and Virginia rural towns. A large percentage of buildings downtown are public buildings and do not generate tax dollar support.   However; some of the common threads of those successful towns that CJ has been working on are increasing support for in-town and absentee building owners to enhance their buildings, developing town policies and ordinances to support rehabilitation efforts, and working to support grass roots efforts of the town population.    

“We have maintained an extremely low water and sewer rate during his tenure.  This may be a disadvantage too as we look to expand our wastewater plant.  CJ has been quick to point out to the water and sewer committee that our rates do not support maintenance or effort and sustainable financial ability.  We have maintained an excellent volunteer fire and town police departments during his tenure as well as an excellent office staff.

“CJ was an out of town town manager that became an integral part of our community.  You could always count on him for his attendance and support no matter when the meeting or event was held.  CJ will still be available to assist us as we move forward.  THANK YOU CJ for all the hours and efforts to keep Lawrenceville operating.” 

Councilman Robbie Pecht said, “Seldom has anyone contributed as much to the betterment of the Town of Lawrenceville than has CJ Dean.  During his thirty years of service, the Town of Lawrenceville has benefited greatly from the breadth and depth of CJ's knowledge and abilities.  CJ has completely dedicated himself to serving Lawrenceville and has been deeply involved in our community.  It's heartbreaking that CJ is leaving.  I wish much continued success and happiness for CJ and his family.” 

Mayor Scott Martin said, “I will greatly miss working with CJ, as he has been a true asset and dedicated employee to the Town of Lawrenceville.  CJ was a fantastic town manager for 20 years, and he had many accomplishments throughout his career.  He “wore many hats” that was accompanied with many responsibilities and tasks to complete for our small town that most residents were unaware of.  CJ is extremely knowledgeable about water and sewer, and helped our town’s crew address many unforeseen events that impacted the county.  He has left a wonderful “mark” on the town, and I am forever grateful.  The entire time that I have been on Lawrenceville Town Council and have served as Mayor, CJ and I have always had a wonderful working relationship.  As this chapter ends and another one is getting ready to begin, I wish CJ much success and happiness in his new endeavor.” 

Chief Everette Gibson said, “I have known CJ Dean for over 20 years, CJ has always had the town’s best interest at heart. I got a call from him on Presidents Day as I was pulling out of our parking lot, I answered and he said ‘Hey you going to come to office and not come see me’ which CJ has never done, so I am thinking what in the world have I done for CJ to be here on a holiday and asking me to come visit him? Well he hands me a piece of paper and I have to say I can think of only one other time I have been speechless and after reading that piece of paper. I didn’t know what to say other than why? CJ is a great person and great manager, I wish him and his family the best of luck in for the future ahead. God speed brother!!!!” 

Mike Dotti, Executive Director, Brunswick County Industrial Development Authority, said, “I have always enjoyed working with CJ. He will be missed. Wishing him nothing but great things in his new endeavor.” 

W. C. Outten, Jr. said, “C. J., through the years, has not only been extremely competent in his field but has never lost his common sense in doing his job.  The Town has been my client for a lot of years but C. J. has always been my friend.” 

Supervisor Dr. Barbara Jarrett Harris, Chair, Brunswick County Board of Supervisors said, “C.J. Dean will truly be missed in Brunswick County. He had established good working relationships and partnerships, with different entities, throughout the county and beyond, that would enhance the growth of the Town of Lawrenceville. He sought to be an intricate part of any projects that brought about positive change and enhancement to the town and county in its entirety. We wish C.J. much success in his future career endeavors and will always be grateful for his contributions to our town and county.” 

County Administrator Charlette T. Woolridge, Ph.D. said, “Congratulations on your new position with the Town of South Hill! All of your hard work, dedication and commitment as Town Manager deserve this achievement. You will be an asset to their team. It was a pleasure to work with you. I wish you all the best in your new endeavor!”