Robbins Town Board Welcomes Members, Says Farewell to Three
In a three-hour meeting last week, the Robbins Town Board bid farewell to three commissioners and welcomed their successors.
Mayor Pro Tem Mark Garner left the board after changing his mind about seeking re-election. Angela Hall did not file to retain her seat. Longtime commissioner Mary Wood, who has had health problems and a recent operation, is also leaving the board.
Mayor Theron Bell thanked each of the departing members and gave them plaques commemorating their service on the board, beginning with Garner, who joined the board in 2005 and became mayor pro tem on March 13, 2008.
"'The town of Robbins Honorable Service Award is presented to Mark L. Garner in grateful recognition of his dedication and commitment to the town of Robbins,'" she said, reading from the plaque. "'We -- the mayor and Board of Commissioners of the town of Robbins -- do hereby express our sincere appreciation and gratitude as well as that of our citizens to Mayor Pro Tem Mark L. Garner for his distinguished service to the board.' And we thank you very much."
Much had come to Robbins from a piece of scrap paper Garner had picked up off a street in Carthage not long after his election. It was an application to take part in an experiment by the N.C. Rural Center called Small Towns Economic Prosperity (STEP) in which a few village clusters and small municipalities would work with coaches supplied by the center to find ways to improve devastated economies in towns that, like Robbins, had lost industries and businesses.
Bell, at the time a commissioner, then-mayor Mickey Brown, Garner and others formed an ad hoc committee to begin work trying to get Robbins selected. Brown asked Bell to lead the effort.
After the Center picked Robbins as one of the first in the state to take part as a STEP town, Garner attended many training sessions and small town meetings along with Bell and others. A STEP committee comprised of residents and others from the Robbins area met frequently to formulate a plan. Robbins eventually received more than $200,000 in STEP grants from the Rural Center.
Garner is a full-time student now, working on his college degree. He helped found Foothills Outdoors, a nonprofit group that assists low-income young people with equipment and opportunities for kayaking, canoeing and other outdoor adventures. Promotion of the Northern Moore area's natural resources is one of the strengths identified through the STEP program as having potential to build Robbins as a center for eco-tourism.
"Please keep Mary Wood in your prayers," Bell said. "She is ill and unable to be here to accept her Honorable Service Award. I am going to read hers, because I believe she deserves the right to have hers read -- and, we do have a card, and everyone here please sign it.
"We want her to know we are thinking of her."
Bell read from the plaque, her voice sometimes almost breaking.
"Those of you that know her, please contact her," Bell said. "Let her know that we love her, and we appreciate her service."
A similar award went to Hall thanking her for her service from March of 2009.
"I just want to say thank you to the people of Robbins for entrusting me with this privilege," Garner said, after all the awards. "I encourage each of us to become involved and remain involved in the goings on of our community. I mean, this is our town. We will be what we want to be, and I thank everyone for their trust in me. It has been an honor and a privilege and humbling, as well. Thank you."
New commissioners Joey Boswell, Terri L. Holt and Claire Matthew took their oaths of office from Bell, who then called for a 15-minute recess in the conference room, where a table full of refreshments handmade by the town's finance officer, Vicky Strider, was laid out.
When the board reassembled, the new commissioners had taken their seats.
The longer meeting resulted from two closed sessions held separately before and after the changeover so that commissioners leaving the board could present their employee assessments while still in office. Then, during a second closed session, new commissioners had their own personnel consultation. The Town Board has only two actual employees: the town attorney and the town manager. No action was taken by the board following either closed session.
In other business, the board approved a letter affirming the town's ability to supply water needed by a proposed church camp to be built between Robbins and North Moore High School.
Contact John Chappell at (910) 783-5841 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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