NEWTON GROVE — In the near future, a few seats on the town’s board of commissioners will be empty, including the top spot of mayor.
During a Monday meeting, Commissioner Laura Wheeler announced that she will not run for another term, citing her future residency as the reason. She mentioned how the decision was made with a lot of regret.
“It’s not for any reason that I don’t love Newton Grove or want to serve on the board,” Wheeler said. “We’ll be moving outside the city limits and with that in mind, I won’t be able to be on the board.”
Wheeler said she’d like to volunteer in any way possible to help the town.
“My heart’s still here and I will do anything that I can …” she said.
Wheeler’s current term, which began in 2013, expires this year. While addressing the board, she requested that the board begin the search for someone to take her spot or that someone files for the 2015 municipal election.
And she will not be the only one saying goodbye. In June, Mayor Barbara Burch announced that she would not be seeking re-election.
“It’s somebody else’s turn,” Burch said previously. “I’ve done it for two (years) and I’ve been on the board for 10 years.”
The deadline to file for the Nov. 3 election is Friday, July 17. Currently, there’s a mayor and two commissioner seats open. Commissioner Stephen Jackson has already filed for mayor for the upcoming election. Along with Wheeler, Commissioner Alan Herring’s term expires this year. As of Tuesday evening, he had not filed for re-election, however Cody Smith did throw his hat in the ring for one of the open commissioner seats Tuesday. Should Jackson be elected — his term runs through 2017 — that would leave another commissioner seat vacant.
In Newton Grove, mayors serve two terms and commissioners are elected to four-year terms.
Burch’s decision means there will be at least three new town mayors in Sampson County by November, as Roseboro’s David Alexander and Salemburg’s Bobby Strickland have already announced they will be stepping down.
Car show discussed
Also at Monday’s meeting, Charles Ward, a previous resident with ties to Newton Grove, presented the idea of having a car show in town.
He considers himself to be a “car show fanatic” and shared his enthusiasm with the board of commissioners. With help and sponsorships from the businesses in Newton Grove and Sampson County, Ward believes it can be a success financially.
“That will get money that the city would not have to put up,” he said about putting on the show.
Ward said a good car show has between 75 and 100 cars, possibly more, with each participant being charged $20. Vendors can also help generate funds for the city by paying a $100 fee to operate.
“It’s an avenue for the city to bring in revenue and it’s not a expense for the city,” Ward said.
Ward enjoyed talking about positive aspects, but traffic and parking in the small town may be a problem if the town was to produce a car show, he noted. He suggested having local churches with big parking lots accommodate large trailers.
During the presentation, Ward and the council discussed possible dates and how his car club in Willard will be able to help out. There was discussion about categories and what’s considered a “classic car.” According to Ward, cars made in 1972 and before are considered classics.
If the council makes a decision to move forward, Ward indicated that advertising could be used to promote a show next spring. No official decision was made during the Monday meeting.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.