14 Jackie Warner and husbandMoving forward. Those are the marching orders Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner has adopted for herself following her re-election to office.

During the short time since her re-election on Nov. 5 and the swearing in of the new Board of Commissioners on Dec. 2, Warner will follow a game plan that has worked for her after previous elections.  
She hopes to set up meetings with the new commissioners before the swearing in ceremony is held.

The purpose of the meetings, she said, is to let the new board know that what is passed is passed and her goal is to move forward and build new relationships.

“I just want us to clear the air,’’ Warner said.

Warner also plans to include town manager Melissa Adams and town clerk Jane Starling in the meetings to help make all the board members aware of the current limits of the town budget and to share instruction on basic protocols of the Board of Commissioners.

As soon as everyone is sworn in, Warner hopes to schedule a mini retreat for herself, the commissioners and key town department heads to discuss everyone’s role. She’d like to get someone other than herself to facilitate that meeting.
Warner would like the retreat to cover understanding town rules and procedures, planning for ethics training and building relationships, so the work on planning for the town can begin.

Once that’s done, Warner said she’d like to return as soon as possible to conducting town business the way it was done prior to changes enacted by the previous board.

For one thing, she’d like to see more order to the process of requesting items to be placed on the agenda of business that comes before the commissioners.

The procedure that used to be in place called for a form to be submitted to the town manager and discussed before coming to the board for a vote. “You don’t have this pushing things through without having some discussion and opportunity for input,’’ she said.

“Sometimes it’s emergency things but for the most part, we want to get back to the process that was in place that seemed to work very well.’’

As the board moves into 2020, major concerns are a number of high dollar projects in the works, headed by the new public safety facility for the police and fire departments.

The goal is to break ground on the building in 2020, and Warner said some tough decisions await the board because of the expense connected with the new building.

The board also has tough decisions on completing the work at the lake park, something Warner considers very important.

Heritage Park, another project that has been long delayed, is part of the overall lake park project.

“We’re going to have to come up with funding,’’ she said. “That’s going to be important. How much funding we can garner from grants and other places without having to do any type of raising of taxes.’’

She agrees with members of the incoming board that another big project on the horizon is the development of the Interstate 295 outer loop and the impact it will have on the town.

Warner thinks the town needs to get a handle on projects other big developers may be working on for Hope Mills.

“I don’t want to limit any commercial development, but we need more diverse types of commercial development,’’ Warner said.

As for the town’s continuing problem with traffic congestion in the downtown area, Warner thinks the board may be forced to wait and see what the Department of Transportation will be able to do on its own schedule.
“I think the end product is going to be a new traffic pattern for us,’’ Warner said.

One area where Warner has strong feelings about the future of the town is cementing partnerships with local businesses.

She wants to renew efforts to work with the local YMCA on projects of mutual benefit between them and the town.

As an example of a successful partnership between the town and local businesses, Warner pointed to the successful food truck rodeos the town holds at Municipal Park.

The town has also partnered with other organizations to secure grants for a number of new sidewalk projects that are still in the works.

“Because of our growth and our needs, we’re going to have to start looking at the private sector to help us do some of the things we want to do,’’ Warner said.

Pictured: Mayor Jackie Warner and husband Alex during early voting for her successful 2019 campaign as mayor of Hope Mills.

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