Canipe retires, Butler in as Spruce Pine Town Manager

  • Richard Canipe (seated) is surrounded by his co-workers in his office earlier this month. Canipe announced that he will retire as town manager at the end of the month. Darlene Butler (left) will take over the position after serving more than two decades as town clerk. (Photo courtesy of the Town of Spruce Pine)

SPRUCE PINE — After serving as Spruce Pine Town Manager for 21 years, Richard Canipe is retiring. 

At the Spruce Pine Town Council’s regular meeting on Monday, Dec. 14, Mayor Darla Harding thanked Canipe for his service to the town.

“I’d like to say, on behalf of the council, how much we have appreciated Richard Canipe,” she said. “He’s been town manager for 21 years and he’s done a great job and we’re going to miss him...We feel like Richard will never be more than a phone call away should we need him.”

Canipe thanked Harding for her kind words and said he will still be available to the town if he’s needed. 

“Thank you,” he said. “It’s been a privilege and an honor to serve both as a council member and as the town manager. I love it and I’ll still be available for anything you need.”

Canipe served on the town council for eight years before former Mayor Phillip Frye asked him to take the position of town manager.

“Many, many years ago, when Phillip Frye asked me to take this job and I resigned my seat on the council, he told me, ‘If you do what you’re paid to do and stay out of politics, you can retire here,’” Canipe recalled. “And that was the best advice ever given, probably, because I’ve done both.”

Taking over the town manager position is Darlene Butler, who has served as the town clerk for the past 23 years. 

“Darlene’s kept me out of a lot of trouble and I don’t know who is going to keep her out of trouble besides herself,” Canipe said. “But, any employee we have that needs advice on how to do the things we do and stay within the law, this woman knows it and she’ll be great at what she’s going to be doing.”

“She’s made us all look good from time to time,” Harding added. “We feel very confident going into the next phase with Darlene as our new town manager.”

Shelley Buchanan will replace Butler as the town clerk. 

Canipe’s last day is Thursday, Dec. 31. He will continue to serve on the Economic Development Commission’s Board of Directors and other various board positions within the town and county.