Campbell Will Head W.P. Police
Domonic Campbell, who has been serving as interim Whispering Pine police chief, now has the job permanently.
Village Manager Steve DeBolt told the Village Council about the appointment during its meeting Wednesday night. DeBolt also announced that Linda Christopher has been named the new clerk.
Campbell replaces Louis Gregory, who retired as police chief Feb. 1. Campbell was appointed as interim chief in December.
A member of the Whispering Pines Police Department for 16 years, Campbell was recognized as the 2008 James W. Wise Officer of the Year by the Moore County Law Enforcement Association.
"During the last few months as acting police chief, he's proven he's the man for the job beyond any doubt," DeBolt said of Campbell.
Gregory announced his plans to retire in November, catching many residents by surprise.
He was hired as police chief in 2003 after a search conducted with the assistance of a committee comprising the Southern Pines and Pinehurst police chiefs and the Moore County Sheriff's chief deputy. His appointment generated controversy in the small village.
A small group of Whispering Pines residents immediately derided Gregory's hiring, arguing that his background in railroad law enforcement didn't qualify him to be a police chief. They believed that a long-time officer with the Whispering Pines Police Department, Robert Prim, was a more suitable candidate.
Council members praised Gregory for making a number of improvements to the department.
Christopher has worked for the village of Whispering Pines for a year. She replaces Geneva Wilson, who retired in March after working for the village 16 years.
DeBolt said Christopher had "earned the opportunity to become village clerk with her professionalism, customer service, and job performance over the past year."
In other business, the council addressed concerns about the water level in Pine Lake.
"Every summer, the water level gets down so low I can't use my boat," resident Bob Cunningham told the council.
The council agreed with his concern.
"I went by Pine Lake the other day, and I couldn't believe how shallow that pond is," said council member Skip Gebhardt.
Mayor Bob Zschoche said, "Nobody's trying to make that issue go away. We're trying to solve it. We need to look at the watershed going into Pine Lake."
Gerald Osborne, a member of the Lakes and Watershed Board, said his board had been working to come up with possible solutions for more than three months.
Zschoche proposed that a special called meeting be held before the summer about the issue, so DeBolt could present all the options. He suggested that when the Lakes and Watershed Board is ready to give its report, the council could set a date for the special meeting.
DeBolt promised that priority would be given to the Pine Lake water level issue and that he had been looking into both short-term and long-term solutions to the problem.
"Something has to be done," Gebhardt said.
The council also voted to authorize the village manager to begin the application process for a COPS police grant and approved a resolution to recognize Wilson for her service as town clerk.
Council member Randy Saunders, who is also the treasurer, announced that the village reviewed bids submitted by banks for a loan to finance construction of a new maintenance building. He said the village was going with Community Bank, which offered a fixed-interest rate of 3.97 percent for 15 years.
Zschoche also announced that he and DeBolt will hold an open discussion at the Village Hall at 5:30 before the start of regular council meetings. The council will still include time for public comments during the meetings. Gebhardt said he liked the idea of holding an open discussion before meetings and that he would be present as well.
"I don't think there should be back-and-forth comments be-tween the council and the public during the regular meetings," Gebhardt said. "I prefer to see it structured so that the public gives us input. I'm delighted Bob has done it, and I will certainly participate in it."
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