NEWTON GROVE — Change was ushered into Newton Grove Tuesday night in the form of a new commissioner and a new mayor, the town’s first female. The swearing-in ceremonies opened the town’s regular meeting, as members worked to take care of business as well as get ready and in gear for the new year’s plans.
Guests that were in attendance for the meeting included retired Sampson County Manager Jerry Hobbs, Hobbton students that were involved in a junior leadership program, as well as William Wilson, a former Newton Grove mayor, there to support his wife who was being sworn in as a new commission.
Commissioner Steve Jackson was out of town in Pittsburg and plans for his swearing in are in the works and will be determined by new Mayor Barbara Burch. Jackson was re-elected to the town board, where he serves as water commissioner.
Teresa Wilson took her seat on the board Tuesday night, as was given the duties as Streets and Parks commissioner. She replaces Brenda Raynor, who opted not to run for another term on the board.
Wilson was sworn in along with current commissioner Gary Mac Herring who will continue on as the Sewer Commissioner for the town.
Raynor was recognized with a plaque commemorating her 16 years of service to the town of Newton Grove as a commissioner during the meeting.
The town’s first female mayor also took her oath of office Tuesday night. Barbara Burch replaces outgoing mayor Gerald Darden who said that he really felt supported during his tenure as the town’s leader.
“I wanted to do my best,” said Darden, before the swearing in of Burch. “I wanted to make this town better than when I started.” He said that he felt that he was surrounded by good boards during his tenure and that that meant a lot to him.
“It was an honor and a pleasure to serve the town of Newton Grove,” said Darden. Darden was the mayor of Newton Grove for 12 years and served previously a commissioner.
“I also want to thank the past and present employees that I have worked with,” said Darden.
Burch, after taking her oath, said that she is looking forward to working with the town of Newton Grove and that she is excited about her position.
“I am glad that my husband is here with me tonight,” said Burch. “He is now the first man of Newton Grove.” She said that she is looking forward to moving forward and is glad to have the support of so many. She said that she will be in the office on Wednesdays as much as she can, and that she wants people to call her at the office or on her cell phone if they need something.
On Wednesday morning, her first official day as mayor, Burch said that she came into the office in the morning and worked with Darden on town business, helping make the transition smooth.
“I have had great help with getting the ball rolling,” said Burch in a phone interview. “Everyone has been extremely helpful.” Burch said that she retired last December from her full-time job, adding that she ready for the new task at hand.
“I am so looking forward to it,” said Burch. “I feel honored to be here, and I am really excited and ready to get things going.”
Following the swearing-in ceremonies, commissioner Alan Herring said that he particularly wanted to thank the Newton Grove Police Department and the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office for their excellent assistance and coverage during the annual Christmas parade that was held Saturday, Dec. 7. Despite the dismal drizzle, he said, the town came out and showed their Christmas spirit.
Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org