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Administration News

Buncombe Welcomes New Directors


In October, Buncombe County announced several new Department Heads. We've compiled all of those announcements into one article. 

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.