Mayor stresses progress in board speech

By: By Chase Jordan -

Following several personal obstacles and winning another election, Mayor Winifred Murphy is looking forward to the next two years.

Murphy made her mayoral address during a recent meeting where commissioners took their oaths along with her. After thanking God for the opportunity to be the mayor of her hometown, she emphasized the message of “Moving Garland Forward – Together.”

“Yes, I have been your mayor for almost six years. I have been intrinsically rewarded by the smiles on the children’s faces in the new park or on the basketball court, the sounds of laughter on the softball field, meeting and talking with the genuine people in Garland, seeing the improvements in infrastructure, downtown beautification, and many other exciting moments which were positively created by the majority votes of the commissioners,” Murphy said to the audience. “I have seen many positive changes in the past six years and know that there are many more possible.”

Murphy continued and talked about obstacles such as battling cancer and making a decision to file for another term, with mixed emotions. On several occasions, Murphy said she did not plan to stay in the mayoral seat. Following more remarks about her faith and current role as mayor, she talked about the commitment that began many years ago. One of her goals was to obtain a basketball goal for youths and provide other services for residents.

“Garland is crumbling right before everyone’s eyes,” Murphy said about her feelings back in 2011. “We must plan, we must have a vision, we must be proactive in making sure that we have a productive Garland NOW and leave a healthy Garland for the next generation. We must budget and plan for each area and not neglect unpaved streets, deteriorating buildings, economic growth, downtown development I am here to work with this board and to provide assistance, as your Mayor, in a positive manner.”

She also believes that commissioners on the board are predestined to serve Garland as well. Together, she mentioned that everyone has 66 years of collective service.

“With our age ranging from 78 to 22, we have highly skilled, energetic, knowledgeable elected officials who God predestined for our positions as leaders in our community,” Murphy said. “We still have much work to do in our town, for our town, for our people and we can do that by working together with respect, collaboration, and effective communication. We have much work to do internally before we can ask for outside resources to support us.”

For the next two years, Murphy will be assisted by a group of commissioners. During the ceremony, board members were assigned to committees, which are designed to provide services t0 residents. Due to its limited tax base, the town has a limited number of employees to carry out duties.

Commissioners Eddie Bronson Jr.and Austin Brown will lead the safety committee. Issues regarding street maintenance were assigned to Lee Carberry and Mayor Pro Tem Ralph Smith, who is also leading the public works committee. Smith will be assisted by Carberry.

The town’s parks and recreation committee will be chaired by S.J. Smith and Bronson. Some of the amenities in town include the new Curtis D. Cain Memorial Park and the Volunteer Softball League.

Brown is leading the building committee with assistance by S.J. Smith. He is also chairing a committee to oversee two town-owned cemeteries. Brown will be helped by Carberry and Deputy Clerk Teresa Smith.

With Murphy serving as chair, all commissioners serve on the finance committee.

During her address, she also spoke about the importance of committee members getting involved as well.

“Citizens, we also need your continued support, encouragement, and your voice. It is about all of us, not just the six of us around this table,” Murphy said.

Police to move next month

After a decision was made for the annex building to become the police’s headquarters, town officials picked Monday, Jan. 15 as the official move-in date.

The building is currently serving as the meeting place for the Garland groups. Some of them include the Community Action Committee and the Volunteer Softball League. Police Chief Ronald Matthews is currently working in a section of town hall. It was also selected as the town’s visitor center. The decision sparked a debate between commissioners and Mayor Winifred Murphy, who was against the decision. Commissioners are in favor of moving the building because they believe, it’ll increase visibility and provide more working space for Matthews. Some of the listed issues include not having a room to interview witnesses or not enough space for evidence.

While making a monthly report and requests to the board, Matthews used not having the proper space for photo lineups, which has to be recorded and conducted in privacy. For this work, Matthews said he has to receive assistance from the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office.

“That’s one of the reason right there,” he said.

The preparation, cleaning and transfer process for the organizations. Jan. 1 was an idea date for some, but Murphy and others noted that it was too soon, especially during the holiday season.

During a recent meeting, the town’s old fire station location was a suggested meeting spot for community groups. S.J. Smith recommended a building next to the town’s shop. The Senior Citizens Center was another option mentioned.

Murphy urges citizens’ help moving ahead

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.