13 hope mills opinionIn the spring of this year, Hope Mills Mayor Pro Tem Mike Mitchell proposed making a drastic change to the town’s charter, suggesting the commissioners serve four-year staggered terms instead of the current two-year terms. After prolonged discussions, it was agreed to put the issue on the November ballot and let the citizens of Hope Mills make the decision. 

Many citizens are leery of extend­ing that much power to a board of commissioners that’s struggled to accomplish, well, anything. Just weeks before the four-year term issue, the board discussed and then awarded themselves substantial raises and benefits packages. The commissioners each received a 53 percent increase in pay. Mitchell received a 48 percent increase and Mayor Jackie Warner received an 84 percent increase. Additionally, they each received a $30 stipend toward their cell phone costs, a $100 stipend to cover travel expenses, and dental, vision and life insurance. It was their last notable “accomplishment.” 

The board has waffled back and forth on a $28,000 partnership with Up & Coming Weekly. In March, Commissioners Jerry Legge, Meg Larson and Jessie Bellflowers voted to end the partnership once it terminated in September, but Commissioners Pat Edwards and Mitchell wanted to keep it. 

Ironically, during an August meeting, it was Mitchell who suggested the board end the agree­ment. While the partnership is described as a gentleman’s agreement and no official contract was ever signed, Mitchell has since used social media and local AM radio stations to announce the board’s decision to “terminate” the contract. 

In reality, the board paid the contract in full and let it lapse without renewal a week ago. Mitchell took to social media again last week to blast the previous board for entering into the agreement. Citizens should be asking why he voted to keep it during the March vote if he felt the partnership wasn’t advantageous to the town. He seemingly wasted a good deal of taxpayers’ money on some­thing he claims was a detriment. 

Likewise, the board has squabbled back and forth on the second phase of the lake bed project. While the previous board voted and approved a working model, this board has systematically voted to undo everything the previous board accomplished. Ten months into their administration, they’re still asking for changes to the already-approved plans. Amongst other issues, they’re still debating whether they want one or two ladders in the swimming area. As of Sept. 11, they haven’t made a single decision but have asked for dozens of revisions. 

All of Cumberland County is aware the board voted to end negotiations with the Lone Survivor Foundation after asking for an official financial offer. But not everyone is aware that a number of the town’s citizens have formed an unofficial organiza­tion in support of LSF. 

Those citizens scheduled a public rally for Aug. 16. The rally was hosted in a local church and was an effort to bring the veteran community together to discuss ideas to help LSF sway the board. One day prior to the rally, Legge sent an email to town staff referring to the rally as a protest. 

“It is my understanding that some may want to stop the food truck rodeo that is supposed to be a family event,” Legge said. He also implied some town staff and elected officials were planning to participate in the protest. His email included a request for an ordinance review. Hours were wasted as town staff reviewed dozens of ordinances to appease Legge. 

Grilley Mitchell, who works at the Alms House in Hope Mills, worked tire­lessly to schedule and advertise that rally. Grilley Mitchell is a known sup­porter of the Alms House, the organiza­tion the Hope Mills Food Truck Rodeos benefit. I don’t know why Legge would think Grilley Mitchell would schedule a protest to disrupt the Food Truck Rodeo, and in turn hurt the Alms House. As of today, Legge has not responded to my inquiries about the email. 

These are just some of the many issues that have halted the board’s progress and prevented the “Team Hope Mills’ mentality Mike Mitchell cam­paigned for. The board has allowed egos and inferi­ority complexes to hinder their decision-making to the detriment of the whole community. 

Each week, I’ll be posting an article on hopemills. net, highlighting the failures of individual board members and stressing the importance of voting “No” to four-year terms. For now, I challenge each of you to review the minutes and video from this board’s meetings and decide for yourselves if this board deserves longer terms.

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