ARCHER LODGE -- With the smell of fresh paint and new carpeting in the air, the town council kicked off the inaugural meeting of 2013 in a new location and discussed plans for long-term goals.
Their first order of business at the Jan. 14 meeting was to honor resident Neal Brantley with a certificate of appreciation for his years of dedication to the community. A frequent meeting attendee, Brantley was thanked by the council for his efforts to maintain town limit signs and donation of a temporary flag and pole for the new town hall building on Buffalo Road.
“He’s a man who has been a big part of this community and has always stood by us,” said Mayor Pro Tem Carlton Vinson. “We owe him a lot of favors.”
Brantley was pleasantly surprised by the honor.
“I didn’t know this was coming,” he said. “Before the council’s last meeting, I snuck over here in the dark and installed the flag pole. I thought the town should have a flag flying at their first meeting in this new location.”
Members voted unanimously to recommend Councilman Clyde Castleberry for a second two-year term as a member of the Johnston County Economic Development Commission. County Commissioners will make an official appointment following the town’s recommendation.
“We meet every quarter and our main goal is to expand businesses in the county that will put people to work,” explained Castleberry.
Current planning board members Susan Locklear and Joel Pace were also re-appointed to new three-year terms. The town must now search for a new member due to a vacancy left by resident Jamie Cousins. The council decided to place a notice on the town’s website advertising the open seat and hopes to have it filled within the next 30 days.
Councilman Jeff Barnes reported the new town hall building is 98 percent complete, with just exterior lights left to be put in place. He noted additional parking spaces and lights to illuminate the lot may be necessary in the future.
“We created a grass overflow and a doublewide driveway for additional parking,” Barnes said. “It’s simple enough to put more in if necessary.”
Town clerk Jean Overton updated members with current figures of the building’s construction expenses.
Thus far, $626,000 has been spent on the project with a few extra bills expected to trickle in. She noted that amount is $16,000 over budget but can be off set with funds including those received for the installation of television equipment for a future PEG channel and sales tax refunds.
One seat on the dais in the new council chambers was noticeably empty. Mayor Mike Gordon had taken time off to mourn the recent loss of his wife, Debrawho passed away Jan. 9 after a battle with cancer. She handled the reservations for the Archer Lodge Community Center and ball fields for many years. Councilman Vinson noted the town sent flowers on the community’s behalf.
“It’s been a difficult week,” he said.
The council voted to meet again on Feb. 11 immediately following a zoning workshop session scheduled for 6:30 p.m.