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Buncombe Welcomes New Directors

In 2018, Buncombe County welcomed seven new Department Heads. We've compiled all of their articles below.

On Oct. 10 Buncombe announced that after a national search, Jim Blanton was named Library Director. 

Jim Blanton Named Library Director

After announcing her retirement earlier this year, Buncombe County’s current Library Director Gigi Francis retired effective Nov. 1. A national search was conducted for a new Library Director, and after a detailed interview process, the County is pleased to announce the selection of Jim Blanton for Library Director.


The County surveyed staff and the community for characteristics they wanted in a Library Director. 22 applicants were selected for interviews out of 72 applications for the position. The Buncombe County Library Advisory Board along with County staff conducted interviews and chose Blanton for the position.


Blanton served most recently as Library Director for the Louisville Free Public Library in Louisville, Kentucky. “Jim Blanton will be an excellent leader for our strong Buncombe County Library system and our outstanding staff,” notes Assistant County Manager Jim Holland. “Jim’s passion for libraries was evident to the interview team and demonstrated in his leadership in Louisville. His depth of experience in program development as well as his strong commitment to serving the needs of the public will assure that our library system achieves the highest standards of service.” Blanton is scheduled to start on Nov. 13 and will direct the operations of the Main Library and 12 branches.



Born and raised in Lexington, KY, he possesses more than 20 years of library experience. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and a Master of Library Science from the University of Kentucky, and a Master of Public Administration from Old Dominion University. Upon graduating from the University of Kentucky in 2000 with an M.L.S., he went to work for the Chesapeake Public Library in Chesapeake, Virginia. While in Chesapeake, he served in a variety of roles including Senior Library Manager. He cultivated a reputation for innovative programming and was a recipient of the Virginia Public Library Director’s award for adult and young adult programming. He was also named by Library Journal as a 2012 Mover and Shaker for his work on a financial literacy video game. 


“The twenty-first century library is the community hub for lifelong learning and engagement,” notes Blanton. “In my visits to Buncombe County, I’ve experienced a community with a vibrant, diverse culture and strong sense of identity, and the library is well positioned to tap into this fantastic energy. Coming from a background focused on innovation, I’m excited by the opportunity to explore new programs, services, and partnerships geared toward realizing the full potential of what the library can be.”

Buncombe County Announces New Finance Director

After a national search and detailed hiring process, Buncombe County is pleased to announce Donald Warn will join the Management Team as Finance Director. Warn will leave his position as Administrative Services Director for the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District in Denver, Colorado, to join Buncombe County’s administration.

As a member of the executive management team, he was responsible for the areas of finance, procurement, information technology, security, and internal audit. Prior to joining the District, he was the Finance Director for the Town of Parker, Co. Warn has extensive leadership experience and a very strong financial background that includes more than 20 years of accounting, budgeting, financial forecasting, and economic analysis. “We are excited to welcome Donald Warn to Buncombe County, states Commission Chair Brownie Newman, on behalf of the Board of Commission. “He brings decades of local government financial management experience and a strong commitment to public service. The Commission selected Warn from a strong pool of very qualified candidates. Along with the permanent County Manager position, for which the Commission is undertaking a national search process, Warn will play an important role in the new Buncombe County Management Team.” 


Warn’s first day with the County will be Nov. 13. “Buncombe County is a beautiful place, and I am extremely excited that I will get to call it home,” says Warn. “Joining the County and serving the community is great opportunity and major responsibility. I understand the current climate in Buncombe County and disappointment that people feel right now, and I want everyone to know that I will do my part to restore credibility and faith in the County.”


His public sector experience also includes Assistant Finance Director for the City of Golden, Co., and Finance Director for Archuleta County, Co. Warn earned a B.S. in Accounting from Metropolitan State University of Denver and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Colorado at Denver. Warn is Past President of the Colorado Government Finance Officers Association (CGFOA), Co-chair of the CGFOA Technical Issues Committee, a member of the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), the GFOA Budget Review Committee, and the International City/County Managers Association (ICMA).

Buncombe County Announces Budget Director

On Oct. 10, interim County Manager George Wood announced Jennifer Chilton has been selected to serve as Budget Director for Buncombe County Government, effective immediately.


The Budget Department works closely with the County Manager in developing and administering the countywide budget, and the director provides leadership and oversight of that department. “We’re delighted to have Jennifer join the County’s Management Team,” notes Wood. “She has been working at this level on an interim basis and has done an outstanding job.”


Employed by Buncombe County for more than 20 years, Jennifer joined management from the Health and Human Services financial team. She has been serving as Budget Manager since January of 2018. “I am proud and excited to continue my professional growth through my employment with Buncombe County Government,” states Chilton. “I am grateful for the opportunity to work with the dedicated and supportive staff across all support functions and departments as we navigate change and work together to ensure that we provide a solid foundation from which to operate our organization.”

Buncombe County Announces New Communications Director

On Oct. 16, interim County Manager George Wood announced Cataldo Perrone as Communications Director for Buncombe County Government, effective immediately. The Communications Director will provide oversight of the Communications Department and works to ensure that information about County news, programs, and services from our 30 departments and elected officials moves quickly and accurately to the public, employees, and news organizations. “Buncombe County has an excellent Communications Department which has won several national and statewide local government communication awards,” notes Wood. “I believe Cataldo has the creativity and ability to lead this talented team in continuing to improve our communication platforms and methods. He will be a great asset to our management team.” 

Cataldo has been employed with Buncombe County for more than seven years as a Multimedia Specialist and Social Media Manager. “I have always had a passion for creative direction, branding, design, campaign development, and how all these things work together to form a communication strategy,” states Cataldo.


Cataldo is a graduate of Western Carolina University with a major in Communication Design and Brand Development. During his time at Buncombe County, he has produced 24 award-winning projects for County departments. Most notably the documentary Slave Deeds of Buncombe County that highlighted the Register of Deeds’ digitization of slave deeds records. The documentary and exhibit won seven national awards and a Silver Telly Award. The project was also selected to be on display in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, a national museum in Winnipeg. Another project that is gaining momentum in our community is Project Still Standing. More than 50 local businesses have joined the campaign and hosted the life-size silhouettes that share domestic violence survivors’ stories with a focus on highlighting available resources for those looking to leave abusive relationships. “Our Communications Department is extremely talented, and we are going to make a positive impact in our communities by effectively sharing the amazing resources, services, events, and news the County offers,” says Cataldo.

Nathan Pennington Selected as Planning Director

We are pleased to announce that Nathan Pennington has been selected as the Planning Director for Buncombe County. He has been Interim Planning Director since the retirement of Jon Creighton on January 1.

Nathan has been with Buncombe County since 2015, and was previously with the City of Asheville’s Planning Department and has both urban and rural planning experience in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Florida. During his time as Interim Planning Director, he has demonstrated a strong understanding of zoning and planning issues, procedures within the County, and has worked with municipalities to assure understanding and cooperation as well. Nathan’s experience has been particularly helpful in navigating the zoning and planning requirements for the Solid Waste Transfer Station expansion as well as the new East Asheville Library.  He has also worked well with both developers and residents in understanding and navigating zoning and planning processes. 

“My philosophy is that the Planning Department strives to set the standard for balancing the needs and expectations of our residents, development community, service providers, tourists, and guests and hope to foster these principles in my new role,” said Nathan.

Congratulations to Nathan on his new role.

Buncombe County Welcomes New HHS Director

Please welcome Stoney Blevins as the new Buncombe County Health and Human Services Director. Stoney brings many years of experience with him to Buncombe County, including his work with Transylvania and Haywood Counties as DSS Director and HHS Director of a consolidated HHS agency.

His work experience includes consulting and leadership roles within the NC Division of Social Services as well as human services work in Wayne, Wake, Rowan, Franklin and Harnett Counties.

Leadership roles within his professional and faith community have influenced his leadership style which he describes as "high support paired with high accountability." Stoney values initiative, intelligence and professionalism in the workplace and is committed to kindness and transparency within the agency and for the clients that we serve.

Stoney is excited to be "part of the dream team in an agency renowned for excellence across the state," and looks forward to meeting the staff and community members that make Buncombe County a great place to be.

Stoney says that family, faith and his love of sports and the outdoors keep him grounded as does his passion for serving others with respect and diligence.

Dane Pedersen Selected as Solid Waste Director

Buncombe County Government is pleased to announce that Dane Pedersen has been selected as Solid Waste Director. 

Dane has served Buncombe County for the past ten years, working in several departments. He has worked in multiple capacities including Erosion Control Technician, Planning Technician, Capital Projects Coordinator, Landfill Superintendent, Transfer Station Manager, and Operations/Project Manager. He brings the following academic and professional accreditations to the organization.

  • AAS Civil Engineering
  • AAS Geodetics
  • BS Industrial Engineering Tech.
  • MBA
  • Certified Manager of Landfill Operations (MOLO)
  • Certified Manager of Transfer Station Systems (MOTS)
  • Licensed General Contractor

“I am thankful and excited for the opportunity to work alongside the talented people that comprise our Solid Waste Department,” notes Dane. Solid Waste Management is a very dynamic and critical function that helps to keep our community healthy and vibrant.”