By Tim Gardner
During the Town of Newland’s regular monthly meeting, Alderman Greg Seiz announced he is stepping down from the post. His resignation became official then.
Mayor Valerie Calloway Jaynes read a letter from Seiz, stating his intentions to resign as an alderman. Seiz said he is moving his residence to Linville Ridge Resort in Linville. When doing so, he would become ineligible to serve as a Newland Alderman as all elected town officials must reside within its limits.
Seiz’s resignation marks the third time in only sixteen months that a Newland Alderman’s seat has become open for reasons other than a sitting member not seeking re-election or losing an election.
Donetta McKinney also resigned as an alderman in October 2017. The then-Board of Aldermen voted for Seiz to fill McKinney’s two-year term (until 2019’s election) by a 3-0-1 (for-against-abstained) vote. Seiz’s appointment gave him an automatic win of sorts for a Board seat as he had previously filed as a candidate for one of three other seats open in the November 2017 election. Aldermen voting in favor of Seiz’s appointment then were Kenny Caraway, Dave Calvert and Roxanna Roberson. Alderman Thomas Jackson abstained.
The third Board seat became open in May 2018, when Alderman Joleta Wise was killed in an automobile accident.
Months of speculation about who would fill Wise’s term on the Board of Aldermen ended in December 2018 as a new alderman was named.
By a 3-2 vote, Calvert was appointed to the Board. He is filling the remainder of Wise’s two-year term that will expire in December 2019.
The Board of Aldermen deadlocked in voting for Calvert’s appointment by a 2-2 vote. Caraway and Seiz voted for Calvert, while Aldermen Lauren Jaynes Turbyfill and Jamey Johnson voted against. No action can legally pass with a tie vote. But under provisions of a town ordinance, when there is an even number of members of the governing Board of Aldermen, the Mayor can choose to cast a decisive vote in case of a tie. Mayor Jaynes broke the tie by voting for Calvert’s appointment.
Calvert had lost his previous seat as an alderman in the 2017 election, finishing fourth in the race behind Johnson, Turbyfill and Wise.
The Board of Alderman can choose a replacement for Seiz by a majority vote or Mayor Jaynes could again cast a decisive vote in case of a tie. The aldermen could also wait until November’s election and let the town’s voters elect a candidate to fill the post.
In other business, Avery County Manager Phillip Barrier, Jr. addressed the Board of Aldermen about the county’s Five-Year Strategic Plan he developed to get input from the county’s citizens of what they expect and want from Avery’s government during the next five years. He said he has been attending various town government, community and related meetings across the county to get feedback from citizens about how Avery’s elected officials and other county employees can best serve the county’s citizens.
Barrier, Jr. told the aldermen and other town officials as well as all others attending the meeting that he welcomes their comments and suggestions about how the county can achieve the directives of the Five-Year Strategic Plan and that he hopes they will submit those ideas to him.
Claude Buchanan, spokesman for the Main Street Cruise-In Car Shows, also addressed the Board of Aldermen, requesting approval for the car shows to be held in 2019 on the first Friday each month from May 3 through October 4.
Bryon Towler of the Cruisin’ The Square Car Shows, also asked the Board’s approval for those shows, which are sponsored by the Avery County Motor Club, to be held every last Friday evening this year from April 26 through October 31.
“These (shows) are too good for the town to let them go,” Buchanan told the aldermen, who agreed.
By consensus (no vote taken), the aldermen approved using both car shows this year.
Buchanan and Towler thanked the town officials for their support and assistance with the car shows and added that they (the shows) will help businesses in the town– especially ones open late in the evenings such as restaurants– as more people than usual likely will be in Town to watch the car shows, often providing more customers who spend money with the Town’s businesses.
The Greater Newland Association, which promotes business and tourism in the Town, also helps promote the car shows.
Newland Police Chief Byron Clawson added that he and his officers also will help with the car shows and that the police department can handle any traffic concerns through the Town while the shows are held.
Besides all Aldermen, (Johnson, Caraway, Turbyfill, Calvert and Seiz) Mayor Jaynes, and Police Chief Clawson, other town officials present at the meeting included: Town Administrator Keith Hoilman; Finance Director Lisa Meinhardt; Town Attorney Joe Seegers; and Town Clerk and Board of Aldermen secretary Tammy Gardner.
The Board of Aldermen’s next regular monthly meeting will be held March 5, starting at 6:00 p.m. in Town Hall, located at 301 Cranberry Street.