By Shannon Beamon, Staff Writer
Thursday, December 5, 2013 —
At Monday night’s Albemarle City Council meeting, mayor-elect Ronnie Michael and new council members Martha Hughes, Benton Dry II and Chris Whitley were sworn into their seats.
“I wish you the very best,” former mayor Elbert L. “Whit” Whitley said as the old council adjourned for the last time.
“I am sure you will find the challenges before you rewarding.”
Most of the seats in Town Hall were taken as Superior Court Judge Kevin Bridges administered the oaths and the new members took their seats.
With this changing of the guard, council members both new and old wanted to take a moment to thank those who were stepping down that evening.
As Michael pointed out to those gathered, the city lost nearly 90 years of combined experience in exiting members Whitley, Judy Holcomb, Ed Underwood and Jack Neel.
Whitley served 20 years as both mayor and council member, Holcomb served on the council 24, Underwood for 18 and Neel for 26, with 19 years as Albemarle’s city manager before that.
“We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for folks like them,” new council member Dry said after taking the seat formerly occupied by Underwood.
“They gave of their time, their effort, their tears to bring us to the point where we are today. We have a great foundation that has been built for us in Judy, in Jack, in Ed and Whit.”
Current members Dexter Townsend, Martha Sue Hall and Troy Alexander each took a moment to thank the outgoing mayor and members as well.
“I have been fortunate to serve with these political legends,” Councilman Townsend said.
“These individuals have helped shape the future of Albemarle.
“All these years since I have been on the council, I’ve listened and learned. I’d like to think as I see them depart that I am prepared for the future because of them. I thank you and I’ll be forever grateful.”
The appreciation did not go unreciprocated, as each of those leaving made a statement.
“I think I might cry, but I’ve enjoyed all of you council members,” Underwood said.
“I just want to thank everybody for everything,” Holcomb said.
“It has been a great and rewarding experience,” Whitley said.
“I will always consider you to be continuing friends and I wish you well in every respect,” Neel said.
Several of the current council members expressed the hope that the outgoing members would continue to offer their advice to the council.
“Come back. You have a wealth of knowledge,” Councilwoman Martha Sue Hall said.
Whitley said while he may no longer be mayor, he will still be around.
“I’ve got to phase out from some of these things slowly,” he said.
Neel will continue to represent Albemarle as an alternate for NC Municipal Power Agency 1.
“If that’s what the council wishes, I’ll continue to help out,” Neel said.
Over the course of the rest of the meeting, the new council elected senior council member Troy Alexander as mayor pro-tem, appointed Martha Hughes as Albemarle’s ex-officio member for the Stanly County Chamber of Commerce, and reappointed Raymond Allen and David Beaver as city manager and city attorney, respectively.
Appointments to other governing bodies such as the Council of Governments and the regional RPO will be considered after a new council member is found to fill the District 3 council seat left open by Michael when he took the seat as mayor.
To submit story ideas, contact Shannon Beamon at (704) 982-2121 ext. 24 or at shannon@stanly newspress.com