Following disputes, Garland mayor urges board unity

By: By Chase Jordan -

GARLAND — Following a public conflict regarding personnel and a commissioner coming back to the board, Mayor Winifred Murphy asked for more unity among her colleagues.

Before a recessed meeting, Murphy made comments regarding incidents that transpired last week when Commissioner Ralph Smith re-joined the board against the her wishes during a Sept. 12 gathering.

“I feel that it’s very unfortunate that so much drama, negativity and division occurred among us,” Murphy said.

Smith, a longtime public servant, was selected to fulfill a vacancy left by Judy Smith, but he submitted a letter of resignation before the July Fourth weekend. Commissioners S.J. Smith, Lee Carberry and Mayor Pro-Tem Haywood Johnson voted for his return.

Murphy questioned why he wanted to return after resigning a few months ago. Smith said a lot of the town’s public works duties were dumped on him. That led to a dispute. Leading up to the final vote on Smith’s re-appointment, there was dispute regarding personnel and nepotism regarding an opening in public works. A job was offered to a candidate related to both Ralph and S.J. Smith. The candidate turned the job down, but Murphy questioned why he was considered and not her cousin’s son.

Carberry conducted a background search and discussed the matter in open session. Following a closed session, he apologized to the the parents of the candidate for discussing his personal information in public.

While addressing the board, Murphy said the citizens of Garland deserve more.

“We’re sitting here with a very high poverty rate, high tax rate with the least amount of services,” she said. “And yet we sit here and we’re not on the same accord.”

Murphy added that the appointed and elected commissioners have talents, skills and strengths to make up for not having a town manager.

“I commend all of you for your strengths and good positive qualities,” Murphy said.

Community Fair coming

Town officials are process of finalizing plans for one the biggest events of the year.

The Fourth Annual Garland Community Fair is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 6 and Saturday, Oct. 7. Mayor Winifred Murphy and the Garland Board of Commissioners approved new plans for the celebration. A meeting was held Thursday morning with volunteers and others involved in planning for the celebration. The next meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 23

Garland’s celebration will begin with vendors available for the public at noon, Friday, Oct.6. That will be followed with the opening ceremony at 6 p.m. at the Curtis D. Cain Memorial Park. During that time the grand marshal will be announced along with attendants participating in a unity song, prayer and National Anthem. Events are scheduled to end at 8 p.m.

The celebration will continue Saturday with vendors available from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. A parade line up is set for 9:30 a.m. followed by a parade at 10:30 a.m. A few of the schedule guests are the Sudan Roadsters, Sudan Clowns, Ronald McDonald and dance groups. With the theme of “Celebrating Diversity,” town officials would like to have veterans, children, senior citizens and others on one float.

A street dance is scheduled for 6 to 10 p.m. with entertainment provided by Brandon Powell of Party Pros Entertainment.

Commissioner Lee Carberry reviews documents during a meeting. Lee Carberry reviews documents during a meeting.

By Chase Jordan

Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.