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China Grove council makes plans for its future

CHINA GROVE — The Town Council on Tuesday looked toward its future with discussion of picking a spokesperson when controversial issues pop up and setting a planning retreat for 2016.

The council didn’t take a formal vote on appointing a spokesperson and set its annual planning retreat for Feb. 29 at 6 p.m. in Town Hall.

Councilman Brandon Linn proposed picking a spokesperson. Mayor Lee Withers suggested a planning retreat, which would be slightly different than previous years.

Linn said his spokesperson idea specifically stems from the town placing the U.S. motto “In God We Trust” in Town Hall, on police cars and other property.

The town attracted attention from a number of media outlets after posting a picture of a police car with the “In God We Trust” motto on Facebook. town officials appeared on Charlotte TV news outlets. Withers spoke on a Fox News morning show.

When asked after the meeting about his idea, Linn said it wasn’t directed at any particular councilman. Instead, Linn said he wanted the town to have a unified message in the midst of controversial issues.

The proposal received a relatively mixed reception from council members. Councilman Charles Seaford said it would have been nice to have some talking points before doing interviews. Councilman Mike Upright said talking points would be more useful if a random person stops a council member on the street than in TV interviews. Withers chimed in too, suggesting Town Council members have a conversation beforehand.

Discussion about Linn’s idea came immediately after the town council set a date for a planning retreat.

The town regularly has budget work sessions each year. However, Withers said, the town hasn’t held a planning session to discuss its long-term vision in years.

“I would like to have strictly a planning retreat where we have 35 to 40 minutes of whatever you’ve got to talk about,” he said.

Among the possible topics he mentioned were future, pricey purchases. The town should talk about its 30-day goals all the way to ones five years away, he said.

Financial matters might be part of the meeting, but wouldn’t be a major topic.

The council set its planning retreat for 2016’s leap day, Feb. 29.

In other business from Tuesday’s meeting:

• The town council passed a proclamation declaring February “Carolina Panthers Pride Month”

The team won the NFC Championship and on Sunday will play the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl.

The resolution asks all citizens to wear Panther attire.

• The council corrected a part of its ordinances relating to control of the police department.

Before Tuesday’s meeting, ordinances technically gave ability to appoint a police chief to the Town Council. However, Town Manager Ken Deal said the manager has appointed a police chief for years.

Deal said Tuesday’s resolution, which gives authority to the town manager, was simply a technical correction in the ordinances.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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