Cleveland swears in mayor
By Kathy Chaffin
CLEVELAND ó Mayor Jim Brown presided over his last meeting of this town’s Board of Commissioners Monday night before turning the position and gavel over to incoming Mayor John I. Steele Jr.
Brown opted not to run for re-election this year after serving 14 years as mayor and six years as commissioner before that. So Steele, after serving eight years as commissioner, decided not to file for a third term and ran for mayor instead.
Danny Gabriel, re-elected to a fourth term on the board, and Travis Summit, elected to his first, were also sworn in at the meeting. Pat Phifer, who was elected to a fifth term, was absent and will be sworn in later.
It took just over 30 minutes for the board to go through the agenda, after which time Mayor Pro Tem Danny Gabriel presented Brown with a plaque of appreciation for his 20 years of service to the town of Cleveland.
Gabriel said Brown had worked hard for the town and represented Cleveland well, not only as mayor but as a successful businessman and through his community involvement.
Upon accepting the plaque, the outgoing mayor said, “It’s been a pleasure. I’ve served with the best board I could possibly ever serve with. They do a great job and have been very cooperative.”
Brown said it had been an honor to serve as the mayor of Cleveland and stood behind his chair as Town Clerk Kathy Payne administered the oath of office to Gabriel, Summit and Steele.
Joy Steele handed her husband his father’s Bible to use in taking the oath. Steele’s mother, Eulalia Walker Steele gave the Bible to his father, John I. Steele, for Christmas in 1936.
“Congratulations, Mr. Mayor,” Brown said. “Here’s your gavel. The meeting is yours.”
In his first duty as mayor, Steele called for a recess to allow people in the audience, including his family and friends and family and friends of the outgoing mayor and incoming commissioners, to offer their congratulations.
Reconvening a few minutes later, he said, “It’s an honor to have been elected. I’m thrilled with the board. We work well together, and that will continue.”
Also at the meeting, Nancy Brown, wife of the outgoing mayor and chairwoman of the town’s Beautification Committee, announced that she and her husband had planted a holly tree on town property in memory of Joe Bradford, the father of Commissioner John Bradford and wife of Mildred, who served as the Cleveland town clerk for many years.
“He was one of the smartest men I’ve ever known,” Nancy Brown said of Joe Bradford. “He could fix anything.”
Bradford likely repaired the automobiles of many people at the meeting, she said, recalling how he once helped her with a tiller.
“Joe was a fine citizen of the town of Cleveland,” she said, “one that we can all be proud of.”
Nancy Brown said a plaque will be put up in his memory.
She also announced that the committee was waiting on two bids to come in for the town’s welcome sign. Once the sign is erected, Brown said the area around it would be landscaped with plants and shrubs.
“We don’t want the sign hidden by plants or shrubs that are too big,” she said.
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249.