Guilford County has just filled one of its most important top-level positions – facilities director – and it did so by nabbing its man from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG). On Monday, August 13, former UNCG Director of Facilities Operations Daniel Durham began working as the new Guilford County facilities director.

Durham, a native of Burlington, NC, will have to hit the ground running because he fills that vacancy at a time when Guilford County is conducting a number of major construction projects. The county is beginning work on a new $20 million Emergency Services vehicle repair and maintenance center, a $14 million renovation of the old jail in downtown Greensboro and a new animal shelter that could cost between $12 million and $15 million.

There are other major projects going on as well, such as the creation of the new Guilford County Family Justice Center in the county courthouse in High Point and the completion of extensive repairs to the Old Guilford County Court House. Then there’s the demolition of the Otto Zenke building – the Sheriff’s Department headquarters – at 400 W. Washington St., and the construction of a new parking lot on that spot.

All those projects were either in the pipeline or well underway earlier this year when former Guilford County Facilities, Parks and Property Management Director Robert McNiece suddenly turned in his resignation – surprising many county officials by doing so. McNiece, who served his last day of county service on Friday, May 18, has declined to state the reason he resigned.

Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing introduced Durham to the commissioners and to other county staff at a Thursday, August 16 afternoon work session. When Commissioner Kay Cashion asked Durham to say a few words, Durham only said quickly that the county manager’s introduction had covered it, a response that drew a laugh from the board.

The Guilford County commissioners were scheduled to hear a report on the county’s new animal shelter project at that work session, but had to postpone the discussion since so many other matters ran long that afternoon.

Durham, a registered professional engineer, received his BS degree in mechanical engineering from NC State and his MBA from Augusta State University. He worked as an engineer for DuPont and as a senior engineer for Westinghouse Savannah River Company before taking a job as assistant director of facilities operation and maintenance at the Medical College of Georgia (Augusta), where he worked for 16 years. For the last eight years, he has served as UNCG’s facilities director.

Lawing said he was very pleased Durham decided to join Guilford County. He said Durham has over two decades in facilities management and has done very impressive work at the local university.

“He had some 242 employees there at UNCG and, if you ride through campus, you can see how those facilities look, so we are glad to have him on board,” Lawing said at the Thursday afternoon work session.

Durham sat through the county commissioners meeting Thursday night but did not speak at that event either.

One commissioner said later that Durham seemed to be a man of few words, and the Rhino Times also found that to be the case.

“I just started Monday,” he explained.

Durham is making $125,000 a year in the new position.

One interesting thing is that his job title doesn’t include “Parks” in it, as McNiece’s title did. The county has been considering splitting county parks into a separate county department and now appears on the verge of doing so.

Commissioner Jeff Phillips, regarding removing parks from the facilities department, said the county had not “formally” broken parks off “yet, but was clearly moving in that direction.

“That’s what we’ve been talking about doing for quite a while,” Phillips said this week. “Facilities and parks folks will obviously need to continue working closely together, but most of our board members think separating those two groups, from a supervisory standpoint, among others, would be a more healthy management structure going forward. There’s still some work and time needed to get the right people in the right positions, but that’s pretty much the direction we’re headed.”