Mallett hopes to change East Spencer image

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 7, 2013

EAST SPENCER — Mayor Barbara Mallett said she hopes to “continue the restoration and revitalization” of East Spencer with her second term as the town’s mayor.
Recruiting business and boosting the town’s appearance, she said, are the means to accomplishing that.
Mallett is running unopposed. The 66-year-old mayor said she’s running for re-election because she views the position as “a calling.”
“I want to continue until I feel completion is done,” she said. “It’s a life path. I want to see it shine.”
Mallett said the town has demolished seven dilapidated homes along Broad Street in East Spencer and she hopes to demolish a handful more as part of the revitalization effort.
By cleaning the deserted homes, she said, East Spencer can begin luring more business to the town.
“We have a product we need to sell, and it’s the town of East Spencer. We have to find a way to do that,” she said. “I’m not an expert in marketing. We’ll have to get some people to help us. We need some professional help, I think.”
The town’s major thoroughfare, Long Street, will be an upcoming target, Mallett said.
She said fixing the main corridor will help boost the town’s image.
“Change the image, change the mindset. We always say that,” she said. “I want to see some dirt turned for redevelopment.”
Mallett said the town is pursuing several grants that would aid officials in redevelopment.
“People can see we have the new police cars. We’ve cleaned up a lot of our property. The general appearance of our streets is a lot cleaner,” Mallett said. “You can just see the growth in our town.”
But the second-year mayor has also seen the firing of two department heads since her election in 2011.
Former Fire Chief Shane Cranfield was fired following an alleged Taser incident at a department Christmas party in 2011.
Cranfield was terminated in January 2012. He was later found not guilty of a simple assault charge stemming from the incident.
Former Police Chief Darren Westmoreland was fired last week after the board of aldermen called a special meeting to discuss a Salisbury Post article that cited former and current officers’ accusations against the chief.
Those accusations ranged from a falsified time sheet to negligent investigations.
In a phone interview Tuesday, Mallett said “changes happen for the best.”
Mallett said critics of the town should watch for the town’s progress, not its failures.
“Just tell them to keep looking,” she said. “It’s going to change. We have to take what we’re given and move on. Changes happen. Just keep watching East Spencer’s growth. Don’t criticize it. Just keep looking at it.”
Mallett said she hasn’t received any feedback from the community about Westmoreland’s dismissal.
“This town board has just been so together in the past year or so that this was kind of a shock, because we’ve been working so tight together as a town board,” she said. “We have problems. Everybody has problems. But we’ll work through this, too. Anything that comes against us, we’ll work through it. You can’t have sunshine every day.”
Mallett said the town expects to begin talks soon regarding the current Rowan-Salisbury School System central office building on Long Street.
She said she would like to see the building turned into a senior citizen complex with an option for a small retail store.
When asked about her accomplishments in her first term, Mallet said, “I think the biggest accomplishment has been the citizens have seen and felt my dedication.”
Mallett has been married to Gary Mallett, an East Spencer native, for 46 years. They have two children, Crystal and Tarsha Mallett, and two grandchildren.
Mallett served as the East Spencer town clerk for 22 years before being elected to the board in 2005.
She spent four years on the board before falling short in the town’s mayoral race in 2009. She won two years later.
Mallett serves on the Rowan-Salisbury Transportation Advisory Board and the Rowan County Nursing Home Advisory Board.
She is also a member, trustee and deaconess at Southern City Tabernacle A.M.E. Zion Church in East Spencer.
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.