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Town of Newland to Pay Candidate Contestation Bill and Hire New Police Officer

By Tim Gardner

      Before a small gathering the Newland Board of Aldermen (Town Council) approved paying an elections board bill and hiring a new police officer during their first meeting of the 2018 year, January 2.

     Aldermen (Town Council members) Lauren Jaynes Turbyfill, Joleta Wise, Jamey Johnson and Greg Seiz were present. Alderman Kenny Caraway was absent. Other town officials attending included: Mayor Valerie Jaynes; Town Administrator Keith Hoilman; Finance Officer Lisa Meinhardt; Town Attorney Joe Seegers; and Town Clerk and Board of Aldermen secretary Tammy Gardner.

     By unanimous vote (4-0), the aldermen voted to pay $766.50 to cover all costs regarding the complaint filed by Caraway to contest the candidacy of Wise for a Board of Aldermen seat in last November’s election. Caraway’s complaint was that Wise did not reside within the town’s limits. However, the Board of Elections ruled that Wise does maintain residency within the town’s limits and could be a candidate for the Board of Aldermen. Wise won one of the Board’s three seats with Johnson and Turbyfill that were open in the election.

     The Board had voted not to pay the bill at its December meeting by a 3-2 vote with Johnson and Seiz voting to pay it and Caraway, Turbyfill and Wise voting against. But the aldermen present reversed that decision by authorizing payment of the remaining fees.

     Wise made the motion to pay the bill to get the matter completely resolved. Turbyfill stated she still disagrees with the town paying the bill, but that she “wants to do what’s right for the town.”

     At its November 2017 meeting, the then-Board of Aldermen voted 3-1 to pay a bill for the candidate contestation at a discounted (75 percent rate) of $2,309.75 for fees incurred by the county’s attorney and the elections board. Seiz and then aldermen Dave Calvert, Roxanna Roberson voted to pay the bill. Caraway was opposed and former alderman Thomas Jackson was absent from that meeting.

     According to Meinhardt, the remaining $766.50 is the total candidate contestation fees without a discounted rate.

     Seegers said that state statues require the town to pay contestation fees, not an individual or individuals who contest a candidate’s right to seek an elected public office post.

     The aldermen also unanimously approved hiring a new police officer for Chief Byron Clawson’s department. Meinhardt said the town could take $2,500.00 from general government insurance, $1,500.00 from automotive fund and $4,438.00 from funding set aside from the past year’s audit that had cost less than in 2016 to help fund the police officer’s position.

     Turbyfill made a motion to accept bids for the Town’s 2018 audit, which also was unanimously approved.

     Shelby Winstead from Serv-Line appeared before the Board and submitted a proposal for providing insurance to the town’s water department. She said her company is affiliated with National Rural Water and she offered three options of insurance and prices for the town. The coverage would include those for both residential and commercial coverage. Wise asked how those using the town’s water would be billed and Winstead replied that would be decided by the aldermen. She added that the town would create its own invoices and that the rates can be added to the current ones or be separate.

     The Board agreed it would like to learn more options for both water and sewer first. Winstead said she would get financial costs for both and present them to the aldermen at their February meeting.

     Sabena Maiden told the Board that January 2018 is the 17th anniversary of National Mentoring Month, an annual campaign to recruit volunteer mentors for young people.

     Maiden said there are many young people who would like for someone to eat a meal, take a walk or just have someone to do fun things with them. She explained how to become a “lunch buddy” for children.

     The aldermen unanimously (4-0) agreed to make January National Mentoring Month and Mayor Jaynes signed a proclamation stating January 27th 2018 as “Newland Thank Your Mentor Day” and January as “Mentoring Month.”

     During the Town Administrator’s report, Hoilman told the Board that the Town Hall’s furnace needs replaced. He said he checked on gas furnace prices and to purchase one instead of another heating source would save the town money. He added that the town is taking bids on replacing the heating system.

     Hoilman also informed the aldermen that the town had been accepted to grant passports and will soon be going through the proper legal procedures to start issuing them. And he told the Board that the Structure-All Company that bought the IRC building will be bringing about 40 new jobs to the town, which should start this spring. Structure-All makes Pre-Fab panels.

     Additionally, Hoilman announced that the winners of the town’s Christmas decorations contest was Faye Lacey for residential and Mountain Jewelers for commercial.

     The Aldermen did not have a closed (executive) session. They will have a workshop on Saturday, January 13, beginning at 9:00 a.m. and their next regular monthly meeting will be Tuesday, February 6 at 6:00 p.m. Both meetings will be held in the Town Hall Board Room.