‘I am looking forward to jumping in, rolling up my shirt sleeves’
Having had only two employers in a 22-plus year career, Garrey W. Curry, Jr. likes stability. He also likes to travel.
Newly appointed to be Rappahannock County’s next administrator, Curry and his family have visited numerous continents, and in the coming days they will land in Australia. But as of January 1, he will settle into his new job after 13-plus years of serving in multiple capacities for the Gloucester County government.
Then again, the 46-year-old Curry is no newcomer to Rappahannock. For years he and his wife have traveled from what he calls “the coastal plain of Virginia” (Gloucester County — population 37,143, about seven times larger than Rappahannock — borders the Chesapeake Bay, some 165 miles from the county seat of Washington) to hike and camp in the hills and hollows of Rappahannock and points nearby.
A native of Liverpool, N.Y., a suburb of Syracuse, Curry attended college in New York state, earning bachelor’s degree in engineering at Clarkson University north of Syracuse. He was lured to Virginia with a job offer right out of grad school.
“The company I joined, a national private engineering firm, was headquartered in White Plains, New York, and I had no intention of being close to New York City,” Curry said in a phone interview. “But my advisor urged me to check them out and I found out they had an office in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia.”
So he and his wife, Sarah, (who met in high school) moved to Newport News in 1995. And how was the adjustment from upstate New York?
“Well,” he laughs, “that summer set a record in Newport News for the number of days above 90 degrees. We felt like we had moved into an oven. We vowed not to move any further south.”
After many years in that company, Curry took the position of Gloucester County Director of Public Works, beginning his 13-year career in county government. He leaves as the assistant/deputy county administrator responsible for supervision of several departments, including public utilities, public works, planning and zoning, building inspection, and environmental programs.
He also served multiple times as the county’s interim emergency management coordinator and managed the capital implementation of a $16.4 million public safety/public service trunked radio communications project involving the construction of five communications towers in Gloucester County.
When the county administrator position came open in Rappahannock earlier this year, Curry was interested in exploring the possibility of “moving to the geographical area where my wife and I wanted to end up. We’ve historically left the coastal plain and gone out to the mountains for our recreation. So we were excited to have the opportunity to live where we vacation.”
Sarah Curry has her MBA, also earned at Clarkson and currently teaches in Gloucester at the Ware Academy, where she is also the IT Director.
“She is going to wrap up her contract with the school,” said Curry. “I’ll be moving into an apartment [in Rappahannock] and we’ll keep in touch through the week and do the weekend thing, whatever it takes [until the school year ends].”
In the meantime, Curry will have a full plate of challenges to face when he becomes the county’s administrator. And he knows what he’s walking into.
“I did a lot of research to find out what’s been going on [in the county] in the last year and a half,” he said. “I watched many hours of videos of meetings of the board of supervisors, the planning commission, and the board of zoning appeals. That really helped round out my understanding. And I read many, many back issues of the Rappahannock News.”
And his assessment?
“I don’t think the problems or concerns that have been expressed recently are unique to Rappahannock. And I don’t think they are insurmountable challenges,” he said. “As communities go, Rappahannock is not so complicated. I’m confident we will be able to move forward [and have] a smoother future.”
When asked about his role in seeing that the county’s comprehensive plan is updated, he said: “It may not be the administrator’s job to adopt a new comp plan, but it certainly is the administrator’s job to make sure the board [of supervisors] and others are aware of the timing and requirements to update the plan.
“There are only so many things that are of critical importance to the board. I will presume that pushing this comp plan update forward is pretty high on their list [of priorities.]”
His own priorities when he comes on board will be “number one to understand what [the BOS] priorities are. Two is to make sure I understand the capabilities of staff. And three to better understand the community. Once the board sets their priorities it’s important for me to understand what the staff can deliver on, and then what the community may not be interested in and what they may or may not support.”
But whatever the challenges ahead, said Curry, “I am looking forward to jumping in, rolling up my shirt sleeves, and tackling the board’s expressed priorities. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve Rappahannock. I have had two professional employers in my career thus far and I would really love to retire with three.”