Wednesday, December 8, 2021

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Whitsett’s town council regroups after late administrator’s death

Whitsett’s municipal leaders struggled this week to resume the mundane duties of everyday life in the absence of their municipal administrator, who passed away from cancer on September 28.

During a regularly-scheduled meeting on Tuesday, the members of Whitsett’s town council began to make the necessary provisions for life without their late administrator Ken Jacobs as well as the town’s former clerk, Jo Hesson, who retired over the summer.

As a temporary successor to Jacobs, the council brought back its previous administrator Gary Deal, who had retired when Jacobs took over the post in 2016. The council’s members unanimously agreed to reinstate Deal on an interim basis at the suggestion of Whitsett’s mayor Richard Fennell.

“He said he would be willing to help us out until we get a full-time administrator,” Fennell told the rest of the group during Tuesday’s council meeting.

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In the meantime, councilman Jerry Rice, who also serves as the council’s finance officer, proposed a plan to reallocate some of the financial responsibilities that Jacobs and Hesson had previously held. At Rice’s behest, the council agreed to assign check signing privileges to council members Craig York and Cindy Wheeler. Meanwhile, Rice suggested that the council confer other financial responsibilities onto part-time employee Suzi Stevens, who had originally been hired to take minutes during the council’s monthly meetings.

The council unanimously approved these recommendations along with another proposed transition in the leadership of the town’s municipal planning board.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the planning board’s long-time chairman Bob Maccia offered to hand over his position to the board’s vice chairman Tyler Harris.

The elderly Maccia promised to remain on the planning board once he had passed the baton to his much younger colleague. He added, however, that the board’s members deserve a leader with the energy and ambition that he said Harris will be able to muster.
“The people who are on it now will be very appreciative,” Maccia said.

In the meantime, the council signed off on another proposal from Rice to rename a newly developed park after the town’s departed administrator.

Rice acknowledged that this modest recreational facility had previously been christened in memory of the late councilman Andy Brown. He added, however, that Jacobs would seem to him a more fitting namesake for the park in light of the leading role that he had in planning and funding the project.

“I would like to make a motion that we . . . name the ball field [next to Whitsett’s town hall] after Andy and rename the park itself after Ken,” Rice went on to propose before the council unanimously accepted the recommendation.

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