By CALVIN ADKINS
PRINCEVILLE — In an effort to start on the right foot, the board of commissioners met Monday at the town hall during a retreat to go over a few house rules and to discuss plans for selecting members for town boards and committees.
The 5:30 p.m. meeting lasted a little over an hour with all the board members sometime laughing out loud — a gesture that has not been seen in at least four years.
"I really enjoyed this (meeting)," said Commissioner Gwen Knight who is serving a second term. "This is the first time in a long time that I came here and laughed and agreed."
Knight was alluding to the past four years under the leadership of former Mayor Priscilla Everette-Oates in which the meetings were constantly filled with infighting and a bickering chaos.
Mayor Bobbie Jones is attempting to prevent that type of demeanor with this administration. Jones told the board that he wanted a "united front." In an effort to get it, he put in form of a vote to meet several days prior to the regular scheduled meetings to perhaps iron out potential differences and to familiarize themselves with items on the agenda. The board unanimously approved the item.
After the meeting, Mayor Pro-Tem Ann Howell suggested instead of meeting prior to the meetings every month, meet only when controversial items are on the agenda.
During the board's discussion on selecting new planning and housing authority board members, Jones suggested that each board member select candidates. Knight said she did not know but one person on each board because the "former mayor kept that information" from her. The board members were asked to bring the names of their candidates at the town's Jan. 27, regularly scheduled meeting.
The board will also seek candidates to fill several committees including the Historic Society, Christmas Parade, Business Advisory, Heritage Festival and the Town Birthday. Jones suggested that the Town Birthday celebration to be held in 2015, which will mark 130 years of Princeville surviving as a charted town.
In another interesting discussion, Jones told the board that the town's museum should be opened as long and often as possible. Since the LGC took over the town finances in 2012, the museum has operation has been mute with the exception of special showings. Jones suggested that the board solicit items from citizens to place in the museum.
The board also discussed Jones' seven proposed Strategic Planning Sessions. The first one, for senior citizens and church leaders are scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the town hall. Perhaps one of the most important will be the Town Cleanup which is scheduled for Jan. 25. The board is looking for volunteers to assist with the venture. Anyone who may be interesting in assisting with the project is urged to call the town hall at 252-823-1057.
On a down note, Jones said much needed capital improvement to the town hall the tone of $30,000, will prevent the town from hiring a town manager in January as it was proposed by the Local Government Commissioner earlier this year. The town has been without a town manager since the board fired Interim Town Manager Maggie Boyd in March. Despite the delay, Jones remain optimistic that the town will survive.
"It is disappointing but we must do what we need to do to move forward," he said. "We can't wait on one individual. This is more about the citizens of Princeville and not just the town manager. We we get through this."