Newton Grove welcomes new faces, discusses potential housing complex

Emily M. Hobbs Staff Writer

November 13, 2013

Newton Grove’s town board welcomed two new faces during its Tuesday night. Betty Bass was sworn in as the new assistant town clerk, and the town board also welcomed new auxiliary police officer Austin Coleman.

Bass worked at Crumpler-Honeycutt Funeral Home for five years before returning to Newton Grove to join town government. She retired from BB&T in Newton Grove where she worked for 25 years as customer service representative.

Coleman told the board he was previously with the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office as a detective and narcotics investigator.

Following the introductions and swearing in, town board members reported that their departments were doing well and that there were no issues that needed to be discussed.

“Everything is flowing smoothly,” said Commissioner Gary Mac Herring who reports information about the sewer system for Newton Grove.

Bobby Herring, with Denning, Herring, Sessoms and Company, PA, is the auditor that completed the audit for the town which was reported on first during the meeting.

“The town of Newton Grove has a fair reporting for the town’s funds,” said Herring. The town has a clean opinion and he said that all departments are operating under budget which means they are working under statutory regulations.

The town also voted on an amendment to the personnel policy. The board changed the eligibility for health insurance from employees working 22 hours to 30 hours being the necessary number needed to qualify for health insurance. The only change that was made at this time was on medical insurance, and not on any other benefits. The town board plans on discussing potential other changes to the personnel policy at a later date.

Judith Sutton, representing a potential developer, had spoken with the mayor and the mayor-elect about the possibility of building income-controlled senior apartments in the downtown. She was not present at the meeting but wanted to get the board’s opinion on the housing potential. The proposed complex would contain 38 units which would be two different sizes. The units would be limited to those that are 55 and older and also within specific financial constraints. Units would rent for $300 to $400. The location that was being discussed is behind Food Lion in the central business district.

“I personally question the location,” said Mayor Gerald Darden. The area would have to be rezoned if these units were to come to the town. As the units in question are not a sure thing the board did not make any vote on he issues and instead just had an open discussion. Concerns about the location as well as the impact on traffic and pedestrians both were discussed. Darden said that he would relay his concerns to the developer. The developer previously stated to the mayor and mayor-elect that if the units were not something the town was interested in supporting that they would look elsewhere, and that the developers only wanted to have a feel for the situation.

As of now nothing has been decided, but the general consensus among the board was that the units would be welcome, but perhaps not in the particular location being discussed. The main reason that the developer chose that location was that it was close to stores so that the potential inhabitants would be able to have access to the grocery store and other businesses in the shopping areas close by.

Amanda Turner, the town clerk, also brought up the potential to purchase a new computer and receipt printer for the town to facilitate the bill collection and payment system for the town’s water customers. Further investigation is still needed before any further decisions are made.

Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122 or via email at