Hillsboro’s new safety and service director began his duties Wednesday, meeting with the mayor and department heads, and touring the town with the interim safety director.
Mel McKenzie accepted mayor Drew Hastings’ job offer in early May. McKenzie previously served as the Geographic Information Systems manager at the Highland County GIS-Map Office, where he worked since 2015.
McKenzie, 39, said Wednesday he is looking forward to the challenge. He said that while he enjoyed working at the map office, the job could be “monotonous.” He said his background in heavy construction makes him more accustomed to “controlled chaos.”
McKenzie, a South Carolina native, moved to Hillsboro with his family a little more than two years ago. He currently lives on Roundhead Road with his wife, Caitlin (formerly Zimmerman), a Leesburg native, and three sons, Davis, Deacon and Dalton.
McKenzie, who will make $62,500 annually in his new job, said he worked for about a decade with a heavy construction company in South Carolina, supervising commercial construction jobs, including everything from an 8-story high-rise to strip malls.
McKenzie attended a morning department head meeting with the mayor and leaders of various city services, and then toured the town with Gary Silcott of Stantec Engineering, who has been filling in as safety-service director since the dismissal of Todd Wilkin last November. A wrongful dismissal grievance claim by Wilkin is still pending.
McKenzie graduated from Florence-Darlington Technical College in 1998 with an associate’s degree in Civil Engineering Technology, and has worked as a field layout engineer, asphalt superintendent, land surveyor and survey manager for several general contractors.
“I’m looking forward to helping the city in any capacity necessary,” McKenzie said in an earlier interview. “I’m excited about the opportunity and excited about helping the city grow.”
When he announced McKenzie’s hiring, Hastings said he was confident McKenzie will serve the city well.
“We had been looking for about four months,” he said. “We didn’t want to be in a rush to find a new safety and service director, and so our patience kind of paid off. We found someone who was local, which was for me an important consideration, somebody who had the background that complimented the rest of our public works team, and had the positive attitude we looking for… We’re looking forward to it.”
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or by email at email@example.com. David Wright contributed to this story.