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Albemarle council members take oath

Organizational activities were the primary business at Monday’s regular meeting of the Albemarle City Council, as the board welcomed one new member, swore in two re-elected members, and bid farewell to another.

(Photo by Toby Thorpe) Superior Court Judge Kevin Bridges administers oath to Martha Hughes. Also shown are her son, Stuart, and husband, Doug.

Superior Court Judge Kevin Bridges administered the oath of office to re-elected council members Martha Hughes and Chris Whitley, as well as to Shirley Lowder, who defeated incumbent councilman Benton Dry in the November election.

(Photo by Toby Thorpe) Superior Court Judge Kevin Bridges administers oath to Chris Whitley. Also shown is Whitley’s wife, Barbara.

Prior to the inaugurations, council members took turns expressing appreciation and thanks to Dry for his four years of service.

“Thanks for what you’ve brought to the council,” said Mayor Ronnie Michael. “You have brought the voice of business to the discussions we’ve had.”

While Councilman Dexter Townsend described Dry as “a true leader who has brought lots to the table,” Councilman Bill Aldridge noted “the city is in a much better position in 2018” because of Dry’s contributions.

“What a great difference you have made,” added Mayor Pro-tem Martha Sue Hall.

Dry took time to express thanks to his fellow council members as well.

“It’s been a pleasure and an honor to serve,” he said. “When I started in 2013, I knew we had a monumental task ahead of us, but working together we have built a strong foundation for incoming councils. And that was not because we were special, but because we were committed.”

Dry also offered a word of advice for incoming councilwoman Shirley Lowder.

“Former Mayor ’Whit’ Whitley gave me some great advice when I came in, and I want to pass it on to you,” he said. “Listen, ask questions, and learn.”

(Photo by Toby Thorpe) Superior Court Judge Kevin Bridges administers oath to Shirley Lowder.

“I’ve known this man (Dry) all my life,” said Lowder. “He is a true gentleman.”

Following the swearing-in ceremony, council unanimously re-appointed Michael Ferris as city manager, Paulette Bowers as city clerk, Colleen Conroy as finance director and Richard Lanziotti as tax collector. Also unanimously approved were David Beaver as city attorney and Martha Sue Hall as mayor Pro-tem.

In other business:
• Tucker Osborne, representing Congressman Richard Hudson, presented a letter from Hudson to Shirley Lowder.
• Ellen Lambert requested the council provide “general support” in battling the county-wide opioid problem.
•John Welsh, commander of American Legion Post 520, invited council members to attend the post’s “Wreaths Across America” ceremony at 11 a.m. Dec. 15 at Liberty Gardens.
• Approved a budget amendment for purchase of patrol rifles by the Albemarle Police Department.
• Approved an amendment to the city’s audit contract.
• Approved the abstract of votes for the Nov. 6 Municipal General Election.

The next meeting of Albemarle City Council will take place at 7 p.m. Dec. 17 at Albemarle City Hall.

Toby Thorpe is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.