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Granite Quarry moving toward popular mayor’s election; now aldermen decide

GRANITE QUARRY — The Board of Aldermen reached a quick consensus Monday night in deciding it wanted the position of mayor to be elected separately by voters.
Some of the specifics have yet to be worked out, such as whether the number of aldermen should change and how long a mayor’s term should last. Also, the change to having an elected mayor would not take place until the 2015 election.
But the present board members say the electorate should have the responsibility of choosing their town’s leader.
“It’s more democratic,” current Mayor Mary S. Ponds said.
At present, candidates run for seats on the Board of Aldermen. And after every two-year election, the board members decide among themselves who should be mayor.
This same process is used in Salisbury.
In recent mayoral selections in Granite Quarry, the board has split 3-2 among itself, with Ponds emerging as mayor each time.
The process has made things uncomfortable for the aldermen, who generally have few disagreements as they conduct town business.
Mayor Pro Tem Bill Feather said the board’s own voting for a mayor has been a difficult situation from the first time he was elected as an alderman.
“Let the people decide,” Alderman Brad Kluttz said Monday night.
Alderman Jim LaFevers said he favored a separate election for mayor, too, adding the town’s voters should have that added responsibility.
The board will have to change the town’s charter. First, it will have to pass a resolution outlining the change, schedule a public hearing, then rewrite the part of the charter dealing with town elections. The state also will have to be advised of the change.
“It is good that we do agree this is something we want to do,” Ponds said.
Aldermen look to be considering two proposals: a six-member town board with five aldermen and a mayor, or a five-member town board with four aldermen and a mayor.
The town now has four aldermen and a mayor, all with voting privileges. One of the aldermen also is chosen as mayor pro tem during the same process that selects a mayor.
Feather said he would prefer that a mayor be elected every two years. Now board members are elected to four-year terms, which are staggered. For example, in 2011, three board members were elected. This year, two seats are up for election.
In another matter Monday night, Mike Brinkley, who is a candidate for alderman in November, said he disagreed with a proposal calling for $500 to be appropriated from the Revitalization Committee’s budget toward planning for a Carolina Thread Trail.
Speaking during a time set aside for citizen comments, Brinkley said the funding should come out of the Parks and Recreation budget instead, since the Carolina Thread Trail deals with greenways.
A $500 allocation from the Revitalization Committee would be a sizeable chunk out of the committee’s $2,500 budget for the year, Brinkley said.
Later during board discussion, LaFevers opposed the Thread Trail’s allocation coming from the Parks and Recreation budget, which has only $2,000 in its activities fund for the year, “and this wasn’t planned,” he said.
Feather didn’t want it to come out of the Revitalization Committee’s budget.
Kluttz said the funding shouldn’t come from either place. In the end, the board decided to approve up to $500 from the town’s contingency fund.
The actual amount probably will be closer to $200, Planning and Zoning Administrator Susan Closner said.
The Thread Trail needs the money as part of the local match toward mapping and consulting connected with a greenway master plan. Other towns in Rowan County contributing include Spencer, East Spencer, Salisbury, Cleveland, Faith, China Grove, Landis and Kannapolis.
The total local match will be $5,500. Contributions from the towns will be based on population, and Closner expected Granite Quarry’s share to be about $200 based on that formula.
Also in his comments, Brinkley suggested the town come up with a better name for the “Revitalization Committee Leadership Team,” which he described as confusing.
Ponds said any name change would have to come from the Revitalization Committee itself.
In another matter, Police Chief Mark Cook said his department will be cooperating with the Sheriff’s Department and Rowan-Salisbury Schools on the GREAT program,” which stands for gang resistance education and training.
The program will be aimed at fourth-graders in Granite Quarry Elementary. At a minimum, it will put officers into the school 18 more days, Cook said. A Granite Quarry officer will receive training for the program in Nashville, Tenn.
The town board also agreed to recognize Red Ribbon Week in October. Jerry Foy, commander for the Davidson County Young Marines, made a presentation to the board about the drug reduction program which is an emphasis for Young Marine units.
There is no Young Marines unit in Rowan County. Foy said the Davidson County Young Marines group is available for presentations in local elementary, middle and high schools.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

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