12/21/17 — Planning Director Jimmy Rowe retires

View Archive

Planning Director Jimmy Rowe retires

By Rochelle Moore
Published in News on December 21, 2017 5:50 AM

Full Size


Jimmy Rowe, Goldsboro planning director, alongside a drafting table he used during his earlier years in the planning department

Jimmy Rowe remembers the city of Goldsboro before its bustling thoroughfares were filled with shopping centers, businesses and restaurants.

In the early 1980s, building plans and site surveys were primarily crafted by hand, on a drafting table.

Rowe, the Goldsboro planning director, has seen decades of change, including city growth and development, during his 37-year career. Rowe officially retires on Jan. 1, with his final day in the office on Dec. 29.

"I've always been told that when it's time for you to retire, that you'll know it," Rowe said. "I just feel like it's my time.

"I've tried to do the best job that I could do, and I've tried to help the citizens of Goldsboro in their endeavors."

Rowe has not only watched technology improve the process of creating planning documents, which are now computer generated, but he's also seen widespread growth and development, along such thoroughfares as Berkeley Boulevard, Wayne Memorial Drive and U.S. 70.

"Between starting in 1980 and now, the development has been amazing, with the businesses that we have now and the restaurants and, basically, all the type of developments that have made the city what it is now," Rowe said.

"As far as development, it was totally different, as far as some of the main streets that we have now, like Berkeley Boulevard, Wayne Memorial Drive and the area out by the mall. Those areas weren't totally developed like they are now.

"Then, I think the icing on the cake was the downtown."

Rowe started working for the city in 1979 as a college student as part of a summer program, which eventually led to a full-time job. Also during college, he worked at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, in its engineering department as a draftsman.

Rowe was hired as a planning technician by the city in 1980 and continued to move up in the ranks as planning technician until he was promoted again, in 1985 to zoning administrator.

In 1998, he became the assistant planning director and took on the role of interim planning director in 2003 until a new director was hired the following year.

The former planning director, Randy Guthrie, was promoted to assistant city manager, in 2013, at which time Rowe was named director of the planning department.

The post is one he didn't actively pursue and never envisioned in his younger years.

"I didn't seek it out," Rowe said. "The satisfaction is, when I first started in 1980, I started at the very bottom, as you would say, as a planning tech. It was basically just a job, and I didn't have any idea that I would get to where I am now.

"I guess it was being in the right place at the right time because we had some people within our department that actually left so, therefore, we had openings and I was able to fill some of those openings and move up from that point."

After a near 38-year career, Rowe said being able to take on greater roles in the department has been rewarding. After the first of the year, he will miss a lot of things, including the relationships he's built through the years.

"I'll miss my employees and my co-workers," he said. "I'll miss the city employees in general."

Jennifer Collins, assistant planning director, will serve as interim director until a new director is hired, said Scott Stevens, city manager. The job search is planned to start after the first of the year.

"For me it's huge shoes to fill," Collins said "He'll never be replaced. We're losing a lot of history and guidance and knowledge. He's been great to our department. He's been great to our staff, very supportive of us.

"I hate to see him leave, but understand. He says it's time to go, so we respect his decision and support that."

Mayor Chuck Allen recognized Rowe during the Goldsboro City Council meeting Monday with a resolution expressing appreciation for his years of service to the city. A retirement party was also held for Rowe Wednesday afternoon in the City Hall annex.

"Jimmy's been someone who's been very conscientious," Stevens said. "He's been very dependable and somebody I can count on. I really appreciate his service to the city."