Chuck Nesbitt leaving county government for job in private sector

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 October 2019 at 6:58 pm

Chief administrative officer has led Orleans through major construction projects

Chuck Nesbitt has served as the chief administrative officer in Orleans County for 14 ½ years.

ALBION – The chief administrative officer for the Orleans County government has announced he is leaving the job by the end of the year to take a job in the private sector.

Chuck Nesbitt has served as CAO for the county for 14 ½ years, leading the county through several major building projects, including the recent $11 million addition to the County Administration Building.

The county also is doing the second major upgrade to its emergency communications system in Nesbitt’s tenure.

He is taking a job with Wendel, an architectural and engineering firm. He will help Wendel expand its customer base in the Rochester and Syracuse area. Nesbitt will be a resource for local and state governments tackling building projects and infrastructure upgrades.

“He has committed a lot to Orleans County,” said Lynne Johnson, chairwoman of the Orleans County Legislature. “He gave it 110 percent. We were lucky to have Chuck Nesbitt for as long as we did. It was only a matter of time before a great offer came along. He was a gift to Orleans County.”

Nesbitt, an Albion resident, said he will continue to live locally. He and his wife, Elissa, have two young children. She is a member of the Albion Board of Education.

“I’m grateful to the legislators, the department heads and the people of Orleans County for the opportunity,” Nesbitt said today about the CAO job.

Nesbitt is well regarded in the county government circles. He just finished his tenure as president of the New York State Association of Counties. He served as president of the NYS Association of County Administrators and Managers from 2008 to 2018.

He has worked to reimagine the county government in Orleans County. That includes a merged health department with Genesee County, the only two-county public health department in the state.

Another recent hire for the county, John Papponetti, was recruited by Nesbitt to work as the county’s highway superintendent and also as an in-house engineer. Papponetti was working as an engineer for Labella and Associates. Papponetti was with Labella when he helped the county do an inventory of the conditions of county bridges and culverts.

He also worked with the department last year when it poured the concrete slabs and constructed a culvert on Culvert Road in Ridgeway. That was the first time the highway department did that kind of project by itself. It reduced the construction costs by an estimated $180,000.

The work of the highway department, and the partnership with Genesee County for public health is the kind of “outside the box” thinking Nesbitt brought to the county – a push to reduce costs while providing excellent service to the local residents.

Orleans County Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson on May 22 presents Chuck Nesbitt with a “Special Recognition Award” from the County Legislature after he received a Public Service Excellence Award from the NYS Academy for Public Administration.

Nesbitt informed legislators and department heads on Friday that he will be leaving by the end of the year. He has the 2020 county budget nearly complete and the addition project is done.

“He’s left us in very good shape,” Johnson said. “But it’s going to be incredibly difficult to find another Chuck Nesbitt.”

Johnson praised Nesbitt for building a strong team of department heads. Nesbitt said he will exit the job knowing the county is in good hands with so many capable and dedicated county department heads.

Johnson said Nesbitt set a high standard for the department heads and county employees.

“He is a very hard leader, and he is also a very kind leader,” she said. “He balances that very well. He sits and he listens. He has great leadership skills.”

Nesbitt said he looks forward to the new job, which will keep him in contact with government leaders in the region.

“I’ve invested so much of myself in that position,” he said about serving as the CAO. “I’ve done everything I can do to help the county change course and with the professionalism. I’m really excited for the future and the great people I’ll work with. I’m looking forward to a new mountain to climb.”

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