A changing of the guard will occur tonight when a new mayor takes over the reins in Mount Airy.
In addition to Mayor-Elect David Rowe, a swearing-in ceremony at the Municipal Building will include three members of the city board of commissioners recently re-elected to new four-year terms: Jim Armbrister, Shirley Brinkley and Dean Brown. The ceremony is scheduled near the start of a 7:30 p.m. council meeting.
Rowe, 71, a bridge contractor, was elected on Nov. 3 to fill the unexpired term of Mayor Deborah Cochran, who resigned in March with more than two years remaining in that term. Since then, the city’s chief executive functions have been handled by Mayor Pro Tem Steve Yokeley, a commissioner who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in the recent municipal election.
Yokeley is continuing to serve as a South Ward commissioner, with his present term not up until 2017.
Rowe is no stranger to public service, having previously logged 16 years on the Mount Airy Board of Education and one year as a city commissioner. He said Wednesday that he is looking forward to his new role.
“Becoming mayor of Mount Airy is not exactly a lifelong dream, but it is a dream that I’ve had for a while,” Rowe said.
“It’s just a high honor to be elected as mayor of Mount Airy — it is a fabulous city in which to live, the people are good and it’s an honor to be able to head things up,” he added.
Armbrister, meanwhile, won his first full term as Mount Airy’s at-large commissioner, a position he had been appointed to last year after the death of Commissioner Scott Graham.
Brinkley captured her second four-year term last month as a South Ward commissioner, while Brown, the senior member of the city board, was re-elected to his third term representing the North Ward.
All the officials who are sworn in tonight will have an opportunity to make comments.
After a break in the meeting, Rowe will take over the mayoral duties for the rest of the session. It will include organizational matters such as the election of a mayor pro tem to serve in the absence of the mayor, and committee assignments to each commissioner from Rowe.
Among other items on tonight’s agenda are:
• The consideration of a resolution to appoint Commissioner Armbrister to the Mount Airy Redevelopment Commission, in the wake of Commissioner Jon Cawley’s resignation from that group at the last council meeting on Nov. 19. Requirements for the seven-member redevelopment commission call for it to have two commissioners and five citizens at large. Armbrister has expressed interest in being part of the group that was formed in 2014 to spearhead the revitalization of the Spencer’s Inc. property now owned by the city government.
• A request to set a public hearing regarding the proposed rezoning of five separate parcels of property in the area of Market and Willow streets. Two local entities known as Granite City Market, LLC, and REF Properties, LLC, listed as the property owners and rezoning applicants, are seeking to have its zoning changed from an M-1 (industrial) classification to a B-1 business designation.
The five sites include 227, 235, 239 and 249 Market St. and the 200 block of Willow Street. The city planning board has recommended the rezoning, which is subject to a public hearing on Dec. 17 which the commissioners are expected to approve tonight.
• A proposal to extend a contract with the Martin Starnes & Associates accounting firm of Hickory to audit the city’s books for the next five years, at an annual cost in the $30,000 range. That firm was first awarded the auditing contract in 2011 and the end of the 2014-2015 fiscal year in June represented its fifth year in that role. Local government units are required to have their books audited annually by an independent entity.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.