Interim Coast RTA GM goes from unemployment line, foreclosed home, to chief in five years

In 2009, Julie Norton-Dew had lost her job, had her home foreclosed on and was visiting the unemployment office so frequently that an employee in the office wanted to help her out.

He told her about a temporary job opening at Coast RTA. She applied for and received it. A couple of years later, the chief financial officer at Coast was fired and Norton-Dew applied for the job and received it. On Wednesday, former Coast RTA CEO Myers Rollins was fired and Norton-Dew was tapped to fill that position on an interim basis.

In five years, Norton-Dew, 42, went from the unemployment line to the interim general manager and CEO of the area’s mass transit authority.

“You make choices and sometimes that means you have to lose your house,” Norton-Dew said in a prepared statement when The Sun News asked about her foreclosure. “Lots of times we didn’t even have enough money to pay our electric bill.

“The fact that I got this job here was a saving grace. You have to do everything you can to take care of your family.”

Management at Coast RTA, including Rollins, was aware of the foreclosure, Norton-Dew said.

Bernie Silverman, chairman of the Coast RTA board of directors, said the board was unaware of the foreclosure. He doesn’t think the board’s knowledge of the foreclosure would have changed their choice for interim general manager.

“Unless she told us, there would be no way for us to know,” Silverman said. “We know she was interviewed by Coast about her job … I don’t think that would have made a whole lot of difference. She’s very capable.”

“Foreclosure is not a criminal matter. It could have been bad luck, or whatever. You know, she wasn’t alone in 2009.”

Norton-Dew began her local accounting career as payroll and human resources manager at A.O. Hardee & Sons from 2002 to 2005. Norton-Dew was then accounting manager for Ally Management until 2007, when she became staff auditor at David Smith Associates in North Myrtle Beach.

She lost her job there in 2009 before former CEO Myers Rollins hired her as a part-time accountant. Norton-Dew eventually worked her way up to senior staff accountant with Coast RTA and then became its chief financial officer in 2011. On Wednesday, she was named interim general manager, replacing Rollins who was fired.

Michelle Cantey, public information officer for Coast, said the agency has had internal controls for years to follow funds that go in and out of it.

“Coast RTA has internal controls in place that prevent the management team from being able to take advantage of the funds at Coast RTA for any non-agency use,” Cantey said.

Silverman said he does not anticipate a meeting among board members to discuss the foreclosure revelation.

“It’s unfortunate,” he said. “A lot of people went through that, but it looks like she’s doing great. She’s come out of it and kept the family together and have done all the right things.”