Directors, Management & Staff
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
JIM EDWARDS, President
Jim Edwards retired in 2015 as the Executive Director for the Isothermal Planning & Development Commission. The Commission is an association of local governments serving Cleveland, McDowell, Polk and Rutherford counties. Jim is a Rutherford County native. He received his undergraduate degree from Davidson College, and he completed a masters degree in public administration at UNC-Charlotte. He has spent most of his professional career in western North Carolina, and now lives near Rutherfordton. He is a proponent of economic development that preserves the special character of our land and its citizens.
JOSEPH CROWDER, Secretary
Joe is a Medical Social Worker and Grants Manager for St. Luke’s Hospital in Columbus, North Carolina. Since 2002, Joe has worked primarily in the areas of substance abuse and geriatric psychiatry. He has been with St. Luke’s since June, 2006, where he worked for several years and still covers in the Geriatric Psychiatry unit. Joe also works on-call with the placement of involuntarily committed patients. He has over 30 years of experience managing grants and contracts for research universities and government contractors. His background includes working as the Contracting Officer for the University of Kentucky Research Foundation and Director of Research Fiscal Affairs for the Medical University of South Carolina. Prior to relocating to Polk County, he was the Federal Proposal Manager for PeopleSoft, the third-largest software company in the world. Joe has been a member of the Polk County Mental Health Advisory Board since 2007, a member of the Consumer and Family Advisory Committee to Western Highlands Network in Asheville, and a long-time member of Polk County’s Wellness Coalition and Access to Care committees. Prior to St. Luke’s, Joe was a counselor for Pavillon’s Residential and Outpatient Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center in Mill Spring, NC. He volunteers at numerous hospital and civic events, as well as the House of Flags Museum in Columbus, NC. In his spare time, Joe enjoys time spent with his three children, two still in college; singing in choir and community chorus; yard work and gardening; horseback riding; and is an avid walker/hiker. Joe holds undergraduate degrees in English, Math, and Biology; a Master’s degree in Social Work, and has completed Doctoral coursework in Public Administration.
HARRY GRYMES, Treasurer
Harry is Vice President/Sr. Commercial Lender with Entegra Bank in Hendersonville NC. He also serves on the AVISTA Business Development Corporation Board. His education includes a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of South Carolina, Columbia SC with a major in Advertising and Public Relations. He is a graduate of North Carolina Bankers Association School of Banking at UNC-Chapel Hill.
JEFF BYRD, Director
Jeff Byrd is a broker with Wallace, Walker & Emerson Realty in Tryon, NC. Formerly, Jeff was the Managing Director of CooperRiis Healing Community in Mill Spring, N.C., a healing community where individuals with mental illness and emotional distress learn new ways to improve functioning, gain independence and attain fulfillment in life through a comprehensive program that addresses mind, body, spirit and heart. Prior to CooperRiis, Jeff was for 21 years the owner/editor and publisher of the Tryon Daily Bulletin, a 5,200-circulation daily serving Polk County and northern Spartanburg and Greenville counties. Since moving to Polk County, Jeff has been active in civic life, serving on boards including the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center(FENCE), Polk Vocational Services, North Carolina Press Association, was president of the Tryon Downtown Development Association, board member, Tryon Riding Hunt Club, president, Polk County Chamber of Commerce, and chairman of Blue Ridge Barbecue Festival. Jeff holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Journalism from the University of Colorado, and Master of Liberal Arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Asheville.
STEVE GARRISON, Director
Steve Garrison is the County Manager for Rutherford County, NC. Steve is a lifelong western North Carolina resident with a strong background in various functions of county government. He served 5 years as the County Manager in Madison County (2007-2012), 9 years (1998 to 2007) as a private-sector Program Manager for the Buncombe County and Polk County Child Support Offices, 11 years with the Buncombe County Department of Social Services (1987-1998), and before assuming his duties as the County Manager for Rutherford County in March of 2015, he was most recently employed with Buncombe County Government in their Library, Recreation and Culture Department (2012-2015). Steve is a graduate of Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College and Mars Hill University where he majored in Sociology and Criminal Justice & Law Enforcement Technology. He has served on numerous local and State boards and committees during his career including the North Carolina Child Support Council (President in 2004), Carolina West Economic Development Board, and the Smokey Mountain Economic Development Board. Prior to assuming his new duties in Rutherford County, he served as the Chairman of the Madison County Planning Board and he served as a NC SECU Marshall Branch Board Member. He is the son of Joe and Annie Garrison of Mars Hill, NC, the husband of Tonya Garrison and the proud father of Savannah, Cameron, Lauren and Emily Garrison.
MARCHE PITTMAN, Director
Marche Pittman is the County Manager for Polk County Local Government. He has a bachelor of science Degree from Gardner-Webb University and a Master of Science Degree in Innovation and Information Technology form Champlain College in Burlington, VT. Marche has worked on many technology and governmental projects, including hardware, software, structured wiring, connectivity, digitization, and network management.
RUSS PITTS, Director
Russ Pitts is a technology and program management consultant in Lake Lure, NC. Formerly, Russ served as the Global Methods Director for Oracle Corporation. His role with Oracle included enabling Oracle Sales, Marketing, and Consulting divisions worldwide to realize their maximum potential through use of methodological-based approaches and tools. Russ has over 25 years of experience in the technology industry. This includes over 15 years at Oracle Corporation, and prior employment with other fortune 500 companies such as Frito-Lay, Price Waterhouse, and General Dynamics. Russ was a Town Commissioner and Mayor Pro Tem for the Town of Lake Lure during the period of 2004 through 2008. He also is a director on the Lake Lure Classical Academy (LLCA-CFA) school board, and continues to be very active with improving education and business opportunities in the Hickory Nut Gorge and neighboring communities.
MANAGEMENT & STAFF
RON WALTERS, Executive Director
Ron is a 32 year veteran of the telecommunications and internet industries and is currently Executive Director of PANGAEA Internet. Ron joined PANGAEA in 2007 as a consultant and wrote the company’s first comprehensive business plan. He is responsible for the overall management of the company. Previously Ron had a very successful career at both large and small telecommunications companies, including AT&T (Indianapolis), Ameritech (Chicago), Intermedia Communications, Z-Tel Communications and Trinsic Communications (all in Tampa). Areas of experience include finance, investor relations, product marketing, business development, sales, project management, contract negotiation, and regulatory/industry policy. Ron has BA and MBA degrees from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. He has served on several local boards and is an adjunct professor of accounting.
STU DAVIDSON, Operations Director
The day-to-day PANGAEA Operations, including the Network, Fiber, Hardware and Software, are Stu’s responsibility. He also provides 24×7 customer support. In Atlanta and Cleveland, he was an IBM Mainframe CICS, VSAM COBOL/Assembler programmer and PC/LAN/Mainframe technical support person for 30 years. After relocating to the Tryon area in 2001, he operated the “Computer Wizard for Home and Business” until becoming a full time PANGAEA employee. He has a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the University of Akron, Ohio.
KEN GRIFFIN, Network Engineer
Ken joined the PANGAEA team in August. He has over 20 years of information technology support and management experience. As a network engineer he is responsible for all network equipment, including planning, design, installation, maintenance and repair. Ken was most recently an Information Technology Director and has held previous positions as a Computer Systems Administrator, a Wide Area Network Administrator, an Infrastructure Administrator and a Team Leader with various companies in North Carolina. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from UNC – Asheville and lives in Tryon with his wife and daughter.
CAROLYN WHITEHEAD, Office Administrator
Carolyn joined the PANGAEA Internet team in October 2012 and provides administrative support to the staff and manages office operations to keep the office running smoothly. She is the first point of contact for callers and visitors. Carolyn has extensive administrative experience, having managed the office of the Lake Region Lakes Management District in Winter Haven, Florida for over 23 years. She has an A.S. in Accounting.
JODY GILL, CPA, Accounting & Reporting
SEAN O’CONNELL, Network Technician