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Ellerbe Swears In New Town Council Members, Sprouts Idea for Strawberry Festival at December Meeting

Ellerbe Town Council (Pictured left to right): Councilman Archie Robinson, Councilwoman Jean Fletcher, Mayor Lee Berry, Councilman Fred Cloninger, Councilman Jeremy McKenzie, and Elsie Freeman
Photo courtesy of Chuck Thames.

ELLERBE- Newly elected town council member Fred Cloninger joined the Ellerbe Council Monday night as incumbents Archie Robinson, Jean Fletcher and Mayor Lee Berry returned for another term.

The Ellerbe Town Council held its December meeting Monday night.  The Reverend Sonny Diggs of Bethel Baptist Church opened the meeting with prayer followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by Mayor Lee Berry. 

From 7:15 to 7:30 p.m. Ellerbe offerscitizen time, an open forum for public comments.  Speaking on behalf of the Ellerbe Downtown Merchants Association, Mark Buckeridge discussed plans being made for a new spring festival, the Ellerbe Strawberry Festival.  The festival is in the early planning stages at this time. 

There was open discussion about when strawberries would likely be ready.  Mayor Berry commented, “Mother’s Day weekend is typically the peak of strawberry season.”  Buckeridge explained, “We are looking at April 28 and May 12.” 

“April 28 definitely would not be a good date for bringing other people in with any volume of strawberries (to sell),” Berry countered. “It would need to be in May, definitely.”

An initial draft budget was presented with the festival expenses anticipated to be $10,500, and festival proceeds of $10,500 for a net break even for the event.  The association plans to sell sponsorships, as well as booth rentals for vendors.  Possible activities being discussed include hay rides, a strawberry cook-off, a children’s play area, live entertainment, as well as a 5K run.  Another possibility could be transportation from the event to a local strawberry farm.

A final date is yet to be set for the new strawberry festival.

The minutes of the November meeting were reviewed and approved following a minor clarification.  The monthly bills and tax report were approved as well. 

Before a full house of local citizens, new board member Fred Cloninger, returning members Archie Robinson, Jean Fletcher and Mayor Lee Berry were all sworn in for new terms of service.

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Board Members Archie Robinson, Jean Fletcher and Fred Cloninger take oath of office. 

In new business, Mayor Berry noted that the January meeting will be held on January 8 due to the New Year holiday falling on the first Monday of the month. 

There was discussion on a topic brought forward by Fletcher of possibly adding an extra Christmas holiday to the schedule. 

“The town of Hamlet, City of Rockingham and Richmond County get an extra day for the holidays,” Fletcher claimed. Fletcher proposed that Ellerbe employees get Friday off in addition to Monday and Tuesday, which are already scheduled holidays. 

“I’m going to have some policies written up during a meeting I have this month with Jean Klein (Regional Planner-Lumber River Council of Government),” Berry noted. “We don’t need to fly by the seat of our pants going from holiday to holiday on getting days off; we need to get this written down and finalized.” 

After expressing his opinion that the town employees should work on Friday, Mayor Berry left the floor open for the council members to make a motion if they wished.  After some period of time, and no motion being brought forth, Berry continued the meeting. 

The next order of business was to elect a Mayor Pro Tem.  After explaining how the process is supposed to work, Mayor Berry opened the floor for nominations.  Jean Fletcher was nominated and was voted in unanimously.  Berry noted that Fletcher was, “the top vote getter in this election.”

Mayor Berry commented that new assignments had been given to board members for follow-up on issues.  Each council member will have areas of responsibility (Parks and Rec, Fire Department, Streets and Sanitation, etc).  The assignments will be posted on a cork board in Town Hall. 

For additional information contact Ellerbe Town Hall at (910) 652-6251. 

 

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