While the Board of Commissioners and the staff at Town Hall do most of the heavy lifting of government for the town of Hope Mills, there’s another important group of volunteers that provide a lot of input to the decisions that are made about the town’s future.
That group is the people who serve on a variety of official town committees that delve a little deeper than the full board does into various town issues.
Jane Starling is the Town Clerk, and her job includes getting applications from people who are interested in serving on the various committees.
In addition to taking a closer look at issues before the town, Starling said the committees also provide valuable exposure to town citizens on how government actually works. She said it's often the beginning of a citizen becoming more active while at the same time getting an education.
Currently, the town has five committees and one commission. The committees include Parks and Recreation, Veterans Affairs, Zoning Board of Adjustment, Historic Preservation and Mayor’s Youth Leadership.
The lone commission is Appearance.
Nearly all the committees regularly meet at least once a month, unless the meeting date for a certain month falls on a major holiday.
The committees are constructed around the election cycle. The January after an election is held in November, the committees get new members who are each added for a two-year term.
The major exception to the rules is the Zoning Board of Adjustment. Its members serve a three-year term, and it only meets when a specific zoning issue is brought before it that requires action.
If someone steps down from one of the committees between election cycles, they can be replaced by someone with an application Starling keeps on file. All applications for committee positions are held for one year.
One of the reasons most of the Hope Mills bodies are committees and not commissions is the rules for filling the slots on a commission are more stringent.
Starling said commissions require members who have specific experience or professional training connected with the specific mission of the commission. “It’s really difficult in this small of a municipality to find people to fill those positions,’’ she said.
The Historic Preservation Commission was recently changed to a committee, and there has been talk of doing the same with the Appearance Commission.
Most of the committees are made up of seven members. One exception is the Veterans Affairs Committee, which has two additional members who represent local veterans organizations.
Each committee also has two liaison members, one from town staff and one from the Board of Commissioners.
To find a complete list of the town committees and a description of their duties, go to townofhopemills.com, click on the Government tab and look for the list of committees.
Most of the committees have resumed regular meetings in the community room at the Parks and Recreation Department building off Rockfish Road, where they can safely meet while observing social distancing.
Normally, the public is allowed to attend committee meetings, but under the current COVID-19 restrictions, only committee members are permitted at the meetings.
If anyone is interested in applying for a committee position for the 2021 election cycle or when an opening comes up, they can get a form from the town website, pick one up at Town Hall or request to have one mailed to them. The number at Town Hall is 910-424-4555.