Bladenboro's town attorney resigns

Erin Smith Staff writer

December 12, 2013

BLADENBORO — The town of Bladenboro is without a town attorney following the resignation of Wes Johnson of Johnson & Johnson Law firm on Thursday night.
The law firm has acted as legal counsel for the town board since 1981 and served with the administration of “respected Mayor Edgar Evans as well as serving with Mayor Livingston Lewis during his 20-year tenure.”
Johnson submitted the resignation letter prior to beginning of the suspended meeting.
In the letter, Johnson wrote:
“As you are aware the town attorney is appointed and serves as the pleasure of the board. I want to personally thank the Town of Bladenboro for allowing the attorneys at Johnson and Johnson Law Firm to serve them beginning with the administration of the respected Mayor Edgard Evans in 1981, as well as serving with Mayor Livingston Lewis during his twenty years tenure.
“You are a new mayor and have the task, along with a new board, to select a new administrator and to responsibly serve the citizens of Bladenboro.
“With much consideration and great respect for your office, the new board, and the citizens of Bladenboro, we hereby submit our resignation as your attorney.
“I wish the Town of Bladenboro and its citizens success in the future.”
After a closed session for personnel discussions, the board reconvened in open session and voted to accept the resignation of Johnson & Johnson Law Firm.
The board also voted on each consent agenda item separately, but failed to adopt the minutes of the Monday, Nov. 25, meeting. That meeting was a special-called meeting which included the former board taking action to amend the town charter based on the referendum voted on by the town voters and the hiring of Delane Jackson as town administrator.
When the minutes in question were brought up for vote, Councilman Billy Ray Benson told the new members of the board to carefully read the minutes of Nov. 25.
“Before you vote on it, you all ought to read it,” said Benson.
The board voted unanimously against adopting those minutes. All other consent agenda items including minutes from the Nov. 12 regular meeting, departmental reports, and budget amendments were all adopted.
The board also voted to add several items to the agenda and addressed each one individually.
The first was a spray field contract. Town Clerk Melanie Hester explained to the board that Atlantic Coastal has been working with an operator in charge of the town's spraying system.
“As of November, they are no longer doing that,” said Hester.
Atlantic Coastal provides their services at a cost of about $4,600 monthly. The new company, Springfield, would provide similar services to the town at a rate of about $2,000 per month.
In other business:
— The board appointed Hester as finance officer, budget officer and zoning officer for the town on a temporary basis.
“This is just to keep the operations going,” said Hester of her added duties.
— Councilman Everette Butler brought up the issue of the E-911 Addressing system. He told the board the county expressed an interest in taking those duties back from the town. the board voted to approve the measure.
— The board amended the agenda to allow Hester to advertise the seat for town commissioner, made vacant recently when Larry Simmons resigned. Mayor Rufus Duckworth said the advertisement would give interested persons a chance to apply for the seat.