After hours of closed sessions for a performance review, 24-year Purcellville Town Manager Rob W. Lohr Jr. will be leaving his post—a decision that put most council members under intense criticism in a long public comment session Tuesday night.
“I can’t believe that you’re actually letting this guy walk away, and [council member Kelli] Grim should be ashamed of herself to bring this sort of thing to the town,” said Magic Kayhan. “You have no idea which way is east and which way is West Main Street.”
Lohr serves under an annual contract. He will leave the job on July 1.
Speaker after speaker, including several previous council members, thanked Lohr for his years of service and battered the council for letting Lohr go.
“It’s a very sad night,” said former council member Beverly MacDonald-Chiasson. “People often asked me, when I came off council, what I thought my biggest accomplishment was, what I was most proud of. I now have my answer. Without a doubt, it was being part of the council that hired you, Rob.”
Only two council members expressed support for keeping Lohr on: Doug McCollum and Chris Bledsoe.
“At the council’s April 11 closed session, I made several provocative statements to try to make the members of the council to consider the road they were on,” McCollum said. “Little did I know that the majority of council had already decided to separate the town manager from his position with a negotiated buy-out.” He said although Lohr had suggestions to address criticism of his work, none of the council members who had critical evaluations of Lohr “gave him the courtesy of hearing his ideas.”
“Will the town continue to thrive and succeed without Rob?” Bledsoe asked. “I’m sure we will, but I believe it will be somewhat more difficult without the expertise and guidance that comes from someone who has guided Purcellville through some of our most tumultuous times.”
Grim and Vice Mayor Karen Jimmerson defended the separation.
“Absolutely he’s great, but we also have to understand he’s built a wonderful house and foundation,” Jimmerson said. “The staff that he’s put in place are terrific, they’re absolutely fabulous people, and I think it’s a disservice to say the whole world is going to fall apart without him, because then that says that he doesn’t have a good staff.”
“I can assure you that this has been a difficult decision, but I’m blessed to have a loving wife and children that encouraged me to take this leap of faith into the next chapter of my life, like I did when I came here 25 years ago,” Lohr said.
Council members did not disclose the details of his separation.
“I believe the settlement that we came to with Mr. Lohr was equitable and fair,” said Mayor Kwasi Fraser. “And for the folks out there that believe that Purcellville has nowhere to go but down, I’ll prove you all wrong.”