Newcomer Simmons sworn in

Dec. 09, 2013 @ 09:22 PM

Four recently elected City Council members were sworn into office on Monday, including Ward 4 newcomer Fearldine Simmons.

The council officially appointed Ray Griffin as city manager, John Zollicoffer Jr. as city attorney and Esther McCrackin as city clerk. Councilman Michael Rainey was also returned to the post of mayor pro tempore.

District Court Judge Henry Banks, himself a former member of the council, officially administered the oaths of office for Simmons along with Sara Coffey, Michael Inscoe and Garry Daeke.

Banks said it was an honor to do so and maintain a close friendship with city leaders.

“I know the important work that you do here and how vital it is to everyone in the city,” Banks said. To Simmons, he added, “This is a special moment not only because of the hard work it took to get here, but also because of the trust that others have put in you.”

After the ceremony, Simmons said she had started a week of substitute teaching on Monday.

“I had a full day, a very full day,” Simmons said. “Teaching math was already a full day for me.”

She is beginning to see how the new role as a member of the City Council will add to her previous interests, which is what she anticipated when considering a campaign for the office earlier this year.

“I actually never thought that I would do this until this summer,” Simmons said. “I thought this would help with a lot of what I’m already doing, wanting to help the community.”

Mayor Pete O’Geary said he believes the council will continue to build on a well-developed establishment of cooperation that is rare among deliberative bodies these days.

“We have a good council,” he said. “We try hard to work together, always doing all we can for the citizens of Henderson. I believe it will be a good next few years.”

A work session followed the business of seating the new council for official business. In closing comments, Griffin told council members that he gives the council high marks on cooperation compared to other councils and boards with which he has worked.

“I have worked with several over the years,” he said. “This is one that works consistently to get to the middle and work together.”

Reaching the end of an election year also presents orientation steps early in 2014 for the council members: an ethics class is required. “The Essentials of Municipal Government” is an additional option offered by the UNC School of Government.

Simmons said she is ready for the learning curve, and she is already starting her rounds to all the city departments. She is eager to be a good student after a 33-year career in teaching.

“I have already been to the water treatment plant, and I learned a lot about what they do,” Simmons said. “I’m looking forward to the municipal council class.”

Griffin said the required ethics material is incorporated into the more comprehensive essentials in government course. It is also available as a stand-alone class in Raleigh for council members who can make the trip. It can also be done online as a matter of convenience.

McCrackin said the ethics class takes place Jan. 31. She keeps the certifications of completion once council members finish any training.

In February, the council gathers for their annual retreat, which includes a comprehensive view of and possible changes to city priorities and goals.

Also on Monday:

• The council approved a $914,866 bid award to Dellinger Inc., of Monroe to replace the high service pump for the regional water system

• Members inked resolutions to advance the Elmwood Cemetery area sewer mains replacement project with McGill Associates as the approved engineering designers for the out-fall system upgrade.


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