Catawba County was established in 1842, and functions under the council - manager form of government - the first in North Carolina to approve this style of government. Catawba County employed its first professional manager in 1937. The County Manager serves as the chief government administrator and is responsible for administering all departments under the general control of the Board of Commissioners.
The municipalities of Catawba, Claremont, Conover, Hickory, Long View, Maiden and Newton each employ a professional manager to oversee the day-to-day operation of the local government, working with a group of five to seven elected officials that includes a mayor or commission chairman. Brookford is governed jointly by an elected mayor and four-person board of aldermen. Newton was selected in 1845 to serve as the county seat.
Basic services including water, sewer, sanitation, recycling, police, and recreation are provided by most of the eight municipalities. Newton and Maiden also provide electricity for their citizens. Catawba County provides cooperative extension, emergency medical and management services, health, social services, hospital, landfill, library, materials recovery, mental health, law enforcement, taxation and other services.
Catawba County is in the Tenth Congressional District, and is represented on the State level by legislators from the 43rd, 45th, 46th and 91st House Districts and the 26th senatorial district
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