BLADENBORO —When Melanie Hester was officially relieved of her duties as Bladenboro’s town administrator on Monday, a position she took on in March 2014, she was given a round of heartfelt thanks from the members of the town council.
But the accolades were hardly over.
On Thursday, Hester was named the Regional Clerk of the Year by the Lumber River Council of Government at its annual banquet.
“I was totally surprised,” she said. “The board has regularly thanked me publicly, so I never even thought about this being a possibility.”
Mayor Rufus Duckworth, who nominated Hester for the award, said she has been instrumental in a number of areas — including keeping things on track with the town’s Community Building, its new fire station and McLean Park.
“I filled out the application because of the all the work she has done over the years,” said Duckworth.
Hester, who requested a return to her position as town clerk and finance officer earlier this year, was selected from town clerks in five counties — Bladen, Robeson, Hoke, Richmond and Scotland.
“I can’t really take all the credit,” Hester said. “There’s been a lot of teamwork along the way.
“And when I first took over as administrator (following the departure of Delane Jackson), I had to go through a learning curve,” she added. “It was a busy time, but I think I had a pretty good handle on things.”
Hester said the board has always given her its support, even when differences would arise.
“I think a difference of opinion breads better solutions,” she said.
Bladenboro hired John O’Daniel on Monday as its new town administrator to replace Hester, but she said O’Daniel will benefit from her experience in the position.
“I think both Pam (Bowen, tax collector/utility clerk) and I will be able to help in areas he may not be familiar with,” she said.
W. Curt Vincent and Erin Smith can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.