The Mountain Xpress, WLOS-TV and Asheville Citizen-Times reported last week that federal investigators are examining the actions of former Buncombe County Manager Wanda Greene.
Mountain Xpress led it off with unconfirmed reports of an investigation, then WLOS and the Citizen-Times followed with confirmation from U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose in the form of a statement, in which she said her office had asked the county to put a “litigation hold on all county materials pertaining to this matter.”
Buncombe County commissioners aren’t comments, and no other details are forthcoming.
Earlier this summer, Greene retired after 20 years as county manager. She was known as an effective manager who held deft control over the levers of power in county government, which included having the last word on hiring/firing of a staff of 1,600 and managing a $419 million budget.
Greene was a Haywood County native who worked as the administrator of a county-owned hospital in Ventura, Calif., before moving on to serve as internal auditor in Guildford County. She was hired as assistant county manager in Buncombe County and was mentored by Bill McElreath, a former high school football coach-turned-county manager.
I sat down with Greene just days before her retirement for an interview. I knew Greene from my time covering Buncombe County commissioners for the Asheville Citizen-Times (that was my beat from 1993-98.) Greene had just put the finishing touches on the county’s 2017-18 spending plan, a budget commissioners adopted the following week.
Greene told me she “learned a lot about leadership and professionalism and how to focus on community issues,” during her time as county manager.
Greene said she was proud of her work to “meet the capital needs of the county,” including funding the construction of a new health and human services building, which is coming together on Coxe Avenue. She added that she felt she and her team had “taken really good care of our workforce.”
Mandy Stone, another long-time Buncombe County employee who most recently has worked as health and human services director, was almost immediately chosen as Greene’s replacement. Greene said Stone’s departmental experience and extensive community contacts would serve her well in her new job.
Greene told me she battled breast cancer a couple of years back, and the related health issues caused her to “stop and re-evaluate life. You look around at what’s left to do,” she said, adding that she was ready for new challenges.