Dorothy Dutton, the Carthage clerk who helped modernize the town’s signature event, is leaving the county seat for a new government job in Southport.
A former central permitting technician for Moore County, Dutton succeeded Karen O’Hara as town clerk in May 2017. In addition to her clerical duties, Dutton was the coordinator of the annual Carthage Buggy Festival.
First held in 1989, the downtown festival celebrates the Tyson and Jones Buggy Factory, a prominent carriage manufacturer that operated in Carthage in the late-1800s. The event is typically attended by about 20,000 people.
Dutton persuaded the town to allow alcohol sales during the festival in 2019, ending the event’s three-decade prohibition on spirits. Attendees were also permitted to bring their dogs for the first time in the festival’s history.
“I’m very proud of encouraging certain elements to be allowed at the Buggy Festival,” she said. “It was (my) hope to draw more people to the festival and I think it was a success.”
Other professional highlights for Dutton include her role in launching the town’s fall festival and her involvement in a 2018 resolution honoring Cpl. Johnny “Ralph” Holder, who is believed to be the first soldier from Moore County to die in the Korean War.
“It seemed like such a small thing, and that was the first one that I'd ever written,” Dutton said of the resolution. “But it made a huge impact for the family of Ralph Holder and went on to be used (in a resolution) by the county.”
There is now a bridge over Deep River dedicated to Holder, a project that Dutton said was spearheaded by Holder’s nephew Charlie Cooper.
Dutton’s last day is March 4. She said she will miss the “people and sense of familiarity” of public service in the Sandhills.
“Having grown up in Moore County, I know where most places are,” she said. “After having worked for local government for so many years now, I have met so many wonderful residents and I've worked alongside some of the best people.”
Tom Robinson, manager of Carthage, praised Dutton during Monday’s meeting of the town commissioners.
“We’re proud of her,” he said. “She has done an outstanding job for us and we’re going to miss her dearly.”
The town is accepting applications for Dutton’s replacement through March 1. The hiring salary will range from $47,521 to $59,409 depending on qualifications, according to an advertisement.