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Caywood chosen as next Roanoke County administrator

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Richard Caywood

Caywood

Following a national search to find its new leader, Roanoke County chose to fill its top role from within its own ranks.

The county announced at its board of supervisors meeting Tuesday afternoon that Assistant County Administrator Richard Caywood will take over for current County Administrator Dan O’Donnell, who has worked for the county for 22 years, and is set to retire Feb. 1.

Caywood, 52, has served as one of Roanoke County’s assistant county administrators since March 2013, with management responsibilities over a wide range of county operations, including public safety, social services, community planning and development, libraries, parks, recreation, and tourism, according to a county news release.

O’Donnell believes Caywood was the right person for the job.

“He’s a great choice. I’ve worked with him for nine years and known him even longer,” O’Donnell said. “He’s been instrumental in so many of the things we’ve been working on. I think he’ll hit the ground running.”

Since coming to the county, Caywood has served as project manager for major capital improvement projects, including the construction of the new Vinton Library, the North County water tower, and the full renovation of the Department of Social Services building, according to the release.

He has also served as the county’s staff lead for the Mountain Valley Pipeline project, and currently represents the county on a variety of boards and commissions.

“We were delighted to find the right person for this position within the County organization,” board Chairman Jason Peters said in the release. “Richard has been an important part of many significant initiatives, both completed and currently underway.

“He has proven himself time and again and we believe that he will provide continuity and stability during this important time for Roanoke County and the region. The Board looks forward to working with Richard to further improve the county organization and its services.”

Caywood said he is excited about the future of Roanoke County, and hopes to continue the progress the county has made in recent years, including the development of the 419 Town Center, which aims to transform the Tanglewood corridor into a mixed-use, walkable area that features a variety of businesses and living spaces in the county.

“We’ve done a lot of good things in the county, and I feel like I’ve been a part of many of those projects, so I am ready for this new opportunity,” he said.

He doesn’t see much of a learning curve in his new role as he works with O’Donnell and Rebecca Owens, the county’s other assistant county administrator, on a regular basis.

“I think with the way we have things set up, and how much we work together, I have a good grasp on how things work,’’ Caywood said.

The soon-to-be boss also said that it’s a benefit that he won’t have to get to know a whole new set of staff, but there might be one minor drawback..

“I won’t have that honeymoon period a lot of other new hires get,” he joked.

Caywood has been a licensed professional engineer in Virginia since 1999. Prior to joining the county, he spent 20 years with the Virginia Department of Transportation in various administrative roles.

He received a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from the University of Virginia and a master of science degree in civil engineering from Virginia Tech, according to the release.

Caywood has been an International City/County Management Association credentialed manager since 2017, and he completed the Senior Executive Institute conducted by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia in 2019.

The supervisors, assisted by The Berkley Group out of Bridgewater, conducted a national search over the last several months that focused on 16 candidates to fill the role, according to county officials.

Berkley was paid approximately $33,000 for its services, county spokeswoman Amy Whittaker wrote in an email.

Caywood’s initial annual salary will be $195,000, Whittaker wrote in an email.

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