He’s no bogey, but his golf game might be, admits Lloyd Payne, town manager for Elkin. Payne is our selection for the final Tribune Tribute of 2012.
Payne is responsible for the day-to-day operations of Elkin’s town government and the implementation of town policy. The task requires the commission-appointed manager to deliver effective, efficient, and sustainable delivery of services to the residents of Elkin. The position continuously evaluates functions of government and public services to maintain Elkin as a community that provides a high quality of life for residents and visitors alike.
As the town commission’s choice since 2005, Lloyd Payne’s responsibilities are significant, but instead of the glitz on what appears on a resume, we opted for a table talk-like discussion with Payne, posing some interesting questions not normally asked to a town manager, reaching out to people who know him best, thus revealing some very interesting findings.
As an example, if you ever found yourself on the 18-hole golf course with Payne, you might be able to pull a fast one on him and defeat him. Golf is Payne’s favorite hobby and his official handicap is 18. An 18 handicap is decent, Payne is comfortable with his handicap, but not comfortable with being defeated. Payne settles for his handicap because he doesn’t get to spend enough time on the golf course.
And though Payne strives for a birdie, a term considered near perfection on a hole in golf lingo, his bogey results actually show a softer side to him, a vulnerability that he’s not necessarily willing to admit.
Bugs, snakes, clowns, when asked for anything that Payne possibly fears, he responded with two words. “No fears!”
When asked to disclose his favorite movie, Payne selected Tommy Boy, a 1995 American road comedy starring former Saturday Night Live colleagues Chris Farley and David Spade, about an incompetent, immature, and dimwitted heir to an auto parts factory who must save the business to keep it out of the hands of his new, con-artist relatives and big business.
The odd movie choice is in complete contrast of the town lead administrator’s track record, known as a disciplined leader, firm in his work delivery, articulate when speaking, compassionate through mentoring, and not naive.
Payne is a person who’s “every action is run through the “is it right” meter,” says Elkin Mayor Lestine Hutchens. “Lloyd is one of the most ethical people you will know. He’s a born administrator and stays away from any touch of politics.”
When asked who Payne would do a better impression of, Farley or Spade, Payne said that he would probably do a better Chris Farley, an actor best known for his loud energetic comedy style and physical comedy.
Co-workers asked The Tribune not to encourage it.
“No, please don’t ask him to do a Farley impression,” disclosed a town hall employee who begged to remain anonymous while laughing.
However, she did say the last thing the town needed was “a Lloyd running around trying to do impressions.”
The humorous moment and chuckle by staff was suggestive of a working camaraderie within town hall; it was the general consensus that Payne was best suited for staying as town manager, not stand-up comedy.
Regardless, those surrounding Payne each day say he’s no joke.
“Catching Lloyd in a joke or an end of a joke is difficult,” said Mayor Hutchens. “He is trained to beware of snares and more likely to be the perpetrator than the receiver.
The daddy side:
“The most lovable side is the daddy side,” stated Mayor Hutchens. “The way he looks at his children and his wife are quiet endearing.”
Payne is married to Beth, an Elkin Elementary School counselor. Both have their hands full with their daughter Ella (5) and newborn son Liam.
The Payne’s met while both were studying at Appalachian State University in the fall semester of 2000. Lloyd was in his second year of graduate school. Lloyd taught a research methods lab while in graduate school. One of his lab students had a roommate. Her name was Beth who was working on her undergraduate degree.
“We met in the fall of 2000,” revealed Payne. “We both graduated in spring of 2001 when I was offered the position of Town Manager in Lake Waccamaw, NC. I convinced her to move with me to Lake Waccamaw. I proposed, after consulting with her father of course, at Christmas time in 2001."
The Payne’s united in matrimony on June 8, 2002 in Eden, NC.
Not so very often, admits the father of two, but when the family does go out to eat dinner you’ll most likely find them at Harry’s Place, a preferred choice for the family, especially on Monday’s. Payne’s choice dish; baked chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, slaw, roll, with sweet tea.
However, nothing compares to Lloyd’s first choice of food. “Anything my wife cooks is my favorite,” he said.
He doesn’t raid the kitchen at night either.
“I don’t snack or eat late at night,” said Payne. “If I did wake up (at 2:00 a.m.) or any other time in the middle of the night, I am drinking some water and going back to bed. Gotta get up at 5:30 a.m. to get to the gym to get some cardio in before work. Also time for me to think about the day and what I want to accomplish.”
Payne’s true connection is his wife, but equally close are his children.
“I pretty much do whatever Ella wants to do when I get home; sometimes a tea party, sometimes playing a game on the Wii, sometimes she wants to cuddle and watch a movie,” disclosed Payne. “Ella calls watching movies together our family time. She loves for me to make her cookies to eat while we watch a movie, and of course I oblige.
“Liam (being about 7 weeks old) is still in the stage where he is starting to become aware of his surrounding a little more each day,” continued Payne. “Beth stays at home with him right now, and so I take him once I get home to give her a break. If he is sleeping, I spend that time with Ella. If he is awake, I am all his.”
An obedient pug is part of the family too. His name is Dudley.
Beach vs. an RV:
Keep the RV’s away from Payne. No whitewater rafting, no mountain climbing, no backpacking or pitching a tent, he’s not against any of these activities, but he’ll have none of it for now. That’s because he’s had so many “adventures” with the military (deployed to Bosnia in the late 90’s and twice to Iraq (04-05 & 09-10)) that vacation time for him means relaxation with the family, not necessarily to go on another adventure.
“I enjoy the beach because as a child I didn’t go to the beach on vacation,” said Payne. “Growing up in a household of 6 people with a single parent working (mom stayed at home to raise four kids), there was not a lot of extra cash for vacations.
“The beach is also a place my wife’s family has always gone on vacation and my daughter enjoys going quite a bit,” revealed Payne. “Thus, my affinity towards the beach has increased over time due to my repeated trips with my family, immediate and extended.”
1st Sergeant Payne:
According to Mayor Hutchens, part of understanding the whole Lloyd story is understanding his military side. Payne included Hutchens on two Boss Lifts with the National Guard giving the mayor a better prospective of what the military preparation is all about.
Prior to his enlisting in the military, Payne had scholarships to attend college but felt there was something more in his life that he needed to accomplish.
“Not really knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up…, I felt the military would expose me to more of the world and provide me with a clearer sense of purpose,” said Payne. “I can honestly say it did and continues to do so to this day.”
As far as what sparked his interest to join the military, Payne stated at it probably started when he heard a recruiter come to his high school and make his sales pitch.
“Up until that time, I don’t believe the military ever seriously crossed my mind as I did not come from a military family,” noted Payne. “I believe watching the Desert Storm coverage on TV also played a role as I felt I could do something else to make my family proud and perhaps build a legacy that others could be proud of. After taking the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test) and scoring well coupled with the previous thoughts, I had made up my mind that I was going to join the military.
Payne has recently completed the course study to be a Sergeant Major for the Army National Guard. He will do another two weeks of preparation in January of 2013 for that role.
Son of a Baptist minister:
Payne credits his parents on having the most profound influence over his life.
“My parents certainly influenced my life,” Payne revealed to The Tribune. “The biggest influence was how to work hard to achieve your dreams. Work was a way of life growing up and taught me the value of a dollar. I would not be where I am today if my parents had not pushed me to succeed.”
Payne was born to Lloyd and Geraldine Payne in 1975. His parents live in Hays, NC where Payne was raised. He attended Mountain View Elementary and North Wilkes High School growing up.
Payne’s father is a Baptist minister who doubles duty at Wilkes Regional Medical Center. His mother works at First Community Bank in Hays.
Growing up as a ‘preacher’s kid’ placed high expectations on Payne. “My family went to church on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night…At an early age, I developed pretty good social skills because of this. The exposure I had by going to different churches and interacting with so many people of different backgrounds and upbringings provided me with a much better sense of people, which I don’t think would have gotten if my upbringing was different.”
Payne only has fond memories of being raised through strong faith.
“The love I was shown as a child by my parents was tied directly their faith and subsequently mine, as well.”
Payne was also influenced growing up by his two older sisters, Cindy and Susan. They still live in Wilkes County. He has a younger brother Larry who lives in Charlotte; the entire family keeping roots in North Carolina.
A volunteer is born:
Payne’s schedule is stacked with volunteerism. Not only does he juggle the administration of the town, but after his daily tasks are performed and shifting gears with daddy-duty, Payne finds himself very busy.
Payne is a volunteer at the North Carolina Army National Guard (1SG for 1454th Transportation Company in Concord, NC). He’s chair of the finance/budget committee for Elkin Valley Baptist Church. Payne maintains involvement serving as 1st vice president for the Appalachian State University Local Government Alumni Association. He’s on the board of directors for Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Surry County Economic Development Partnership Executive Board, assistant treasurer for the Yadkin Valley Rotary Club. He is also professionally involved with the North Carolina City and County Manager’s Association Managers-in-Transition sub-committee, the North Carolina League of Municipalities Tax and Finance Legislative Action Committee, the North Carolina Rural Center New Generation Advisory Council, and even stretches out for the Elkin High School Business Advisory Council.
Payne holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Appalachian State University. He is still a fan of its football program.
Tommy Boy quote:
[Tommy is celebrating his graduation with friends]
Tommy: “Some of us are leaving, and that is sad, but this isn’t the end. No way. We’re gonna show this world a thing or two. We’re going to show…”
[Tommy passes out and falls on a table and smashes it]
Reach Anthony Gonzalez at The Tribune by calling 835-1513 or email at email@example.com