GARLAND — The town’s Board of Commissioners on Friday accepted the resignation of town clerk Pam Cashwell and hired a new town clerk, who will start at the end of this month.
No mention was made of Cashwell’s possible resignation during Tuesday’s regular town meeting. There was a closed session to discuss personnel, among other subjects, following the three-hour Tuesday night meeting. A notice was sent by Mayor Winifred Murphy to The Sampson Independent Thursday morning regarding the scheduling of an emergency meeting of the Garland Board of Commissioners for 9 a.m. Friday at the Town Hall to again discuss personnel in closed session.
Cashwell was not present at the Friday meeting.
Murphy called the meeting to order at 9 a.m. and Commissioner Ralph Smith confirmed there was a quorum present. Commissioners Haywood Johnson, Mike Toler and Matthew Register were also present, with commissioner Denise Toler being the lone absence. The board quickly voted to go into closed session regarding the personnel matter.
Little more than an hour later, Jennifer Gray was announced as the new town clerk and finance officer. Gray, who previously applied for the deputy clerk position, will start in the head clerk capacity Monday, Oct. 29.
The board did bring Gray into the meeting room during the closed door session Friday.
At around 9:35 a.m., about half hour into the closed door meeting, Gray was brought into the room for about 15 minutes before exiting so commissioners could have further discussion. At 10:10 a.m., Gray was asked into the room again, at which time she was offered the job. Minutes later, the board came back into open session and Murphy announced that action had been taken during closed session.
“The Board of Commissioners accepted the resignation of town clerk/finance officer Pamela Cashwell, effective immediately,” said Murphy. “The second action was hiring Jennifer Gray as the new town clerk/finance officer, effective Monday, Oct. 29, at a salary of $31,200.”
Later in the day Friday, Murphy praised the board in acting swiftly to fill the clerk position and also lauded Cashwell for the job she did for the town.
“Pam was a very valued employee,” the mayor said. “She did a tremendous job. I hope this doesn’t set the town back too much. (Gray) has a strong background in finance and working with the public. I’m glad that the board acted swiftly in making this decision.”
Murphy said Cashwell handed in her resignation, but that no specific explanation was given for Cashwell’s decision.
Cashwell has been at the forefront in attempting to right the financial ship for Garland as the town has navigated unprecedentedly troubled financial waters this year.
She was hired in an official capacity as town clerk in late April. She had essentially been volunteering in that capacity for the previous two months, since the end of February, filling a void in the town hall and providing much-needed help in finances, bookkeeping and everyday issues the town was forced to resolve. At the time, Murphy called Cashwell’s hiring a blessing, citing her extensive professional knowledge and experience in areas that could benefit the town.
“She is dedicated, trustworthy, conscientious and leaves no stone unturned,” Murphy said upon Cashwell’s hire. “I don’t think I could’ve made it through this without her.”
Prior to stepping in as town clerk, Garland native Cashwell served as a registered nurse for 28 years, the last eight as vice president of clinical services for a private health care agency. As Cashwell was being hired, the town also accepted applications for a deputy clerk. Teresa Frack was hired in the deputy capacity following closed-door interviews and a split-decision vote at the end of May and has been working in that capacity since.
Frack was approved in a 3-2 vote at the time, with two commissioners leaning toward another candidate. Murphy would not say Friday whether that other candidate was Gray, but noted Gray “was strongly favored during that interview process.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.