Wednesday, 11 October 2017 13:08

Hamlet City Council Discusses Array of Issues in October Meeting

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The Hamlet City Council met Tuesday for its October meeting. The Hamlet City Council met Tuesday for its October meeting. Photo courtesy of C.K. Craven.

HAMLET – The monthly meeting for the Hamlet City Council was held in the chamber of the administration building at 201 Main Street on Tuesday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. 


All members were present and the agenda was full with 11 distinct items of business, as well as the usual administrative procedures and miscellaneous reports from staff and pertinent comments from the councilors.

Council members were astutely attuned to the details and possible ramifications of each situation presented to them.  Thorough reviews were applied to the following concerns:  holiday vacation time for city employees; the possible need to reduce speed limits in certain areas (as a means of ameliorating noise from compression brakes of tractor-trailers as they enter the city); the specific method of payment for playground equipment and benches for South  Hamlet; direct responsibility and coordination for the Christmas Parade;  appointments to the Hamlet ABC Board and the Hamlet Housing Authority Board of Commissioners; Resolution No. 2017-08 related to surplus equipment sales; and adoption of tax releases.

Mayor Bill Bayless issued a mayoral proclamation on the part of the City of Hamlet recognizing Veterans’ Day, and City Manager Jonathan Blanton provided his report of other city business.

But there were four topics in particular that by far generated the most attention of the evening. 

First was the discussion of Ordinance No. 2017-06: Alcohol Consumption on City-Owned Property.  Focusing on points of liability and the practices of nearby municipalities in such matters, the Council eventually confirmed adoption of the ordinance, noting the necessity to adhere to applicable ABC permits and provision of a 45-day notice for any activities in which alcohol might be served on city property.

Next, was a quasi-judicial hearing addressing the special use petition of David and Kim Lindsey.  Councilman Lindsey immediately recused himself from a voting position, joining Kim at the podium as a plan presenter.  The Lindseys proposed the construction of an entertainment stage on Vance Street, with the understanding (at the behest of Councilman Jesse McQueen) that the land would indeed be donated to the non-profit organization Seaboard Festival Day, Inc.

Kim Lindsey was quite thorough and comprehensive in her denotation of any and all possibly contentious elements associated with the project.  She specifically cited definitive measures that would be implemented to sufficiently address each and every concern.  Such an exemplary overview of how the project would benefit the City with minimal obligation, responsibility or cost for Hamlet was more than sufficient to garner a unanimous vote to grant the petition.

The third of these discussion-generating topics was that of the opportunity for the Hamlet Depot Museum to possibly purchase and transport a historic railcar to Hamlet for permanent display.  The Jacksonville, manufactured in 1927 as a Pullman Standard car with the Seaboard Airline Railroad and later transformed into a business car in 1944, is possibly available for Hamlet if the city can offer a place to “park” it. 

Bill Matheson, a former engineer and current official with the Depot, offered a convincing proposition, essentially paraphrasing Kevin Costner’s Field of Dreams character by saying that, “If the City will allow it, the Jacksonville will come.”

Councilmen Lindsey, McQueen, Jonathan Buie and Eddie Martin were enthusiastic but exercised due caution, inquiring as to what role (i.e., cost) would have to be adopted by the City of Hamlet.  When assured that the entire obligation – financial and otherwise - would be absorbed and/or otherwise satisfied by the Depot Museum itself with no direct cost to the City, the Council was quick to adopt the measure. 

Councilman Lindsey, citing concerns about underground pipes and other logistical concerns related to the transportation and a specific location for the 85 ton railcar, was the lone dissenter, ultimately voting against an immediate approval of the proposition, but stated his willingness to fully support the idea once his concerns were alleviated.

Individual council members were then offered the opportunity for their comments.  After noting the sad but imminent closing (coming in November) of the local hospital and recognizing the outstanding service of two city employees about to retire, Councilman McQueen asked that proper protocol be followed in relation to any and all communications involving Council members, and that good judgment be exercised in all situations in which the actions of council members are being scrutinized.

Councilman Buie subsequently addressed similar issues to an even greater extent, bringing attention to three primary concerns.  First, he reminded us of the constitutional entitlement of city employees to vote for whomever they choose, and/or express their political beliefs in any legally acceptable manner (including the placement of political placards on their personal property), provided that no political activities are conducted on City time. 

Buie then addressed the media, indicating that he took umbrage with certain comments and insinuations that were recently publicized by a local paper.  He was quite adamant in his statements, declaring his focus to be solely on the needs of the people of Hamlet.  He related that it is this “passion” that drives him to keep everything “out in the open” and to vote with his conscience in regard to any and all issues that come before the Hamlet City Council. 

No specifics were offered and the discourse remained calm and professional through the end of the session, but it was readily apparent that Buie was obviously concerned about the accuracy and veracity of recent printings regarding his actions as a council member.

Mayor Bayless concluded the council meeting by assuring constituents of the City’s cognizance of issues related to the town’s infrastructure and other potentially problematic issues and, on a happier note, reminded locals to attend the Richmond County Agricultural Fair this week.  

Last modified on Wednesday, 11 October 2017 13:17