Last updated: January 15. 2014 12:34PM - 533 Views
By - tjoyce@civitasmedia.com

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A notable thing about the agenda for Thursday night’s Mount Airy Board of Commissioners meeting is what it doesn’t contain: a strategy or timetable for replacing a commissioner who recently died.

However, a fellow board member said Tuesday that the issue will surface nonetheless when the group gathers Thursday at 7 p.m.

Commissioner Jon Cawley added that he and the other three council members haven’t had time to consider the replacement of Scott Graham. “But I can’t imagine us not discussing it,” Cawley said.

Even if an item of business doesn’t appear on the board’s official agenda, a member can still introduce it for debate or action.

“I don’t know what kind of discussion it will be, but we have to discuss it because it’s standing before us and we can’t do anything except deal with it,” Cawley said of the commissioner replacement.

Graham, 64, died on Jan. 2 from cancer, midway through his first four-year term as the city’s at-large commissioner.

Since the board earlier had cancelled its meeting for the same day, due to the New Year’s holiday, the remaining four commissioners haven’t had the opportunity to address the vacancy leading up to this week’s meeting.

Cawley said Tuesday he had not seen the agenda for Thursday night’s session. “I was talking with the mayor today and she was telling me it was not there,” he said of the commissioner replacement.

“But it will be brought up.”

The Mount Airy commissioners have faced vacancies twice over the past six years, one in 2008 when Tom Bagnal resigned. The second occurred after the 2009 election when Cochran became mayor, leaving vacant the at-large commissioner seat she occupied at the time with two years remaining in her term.

In the 2008 situation, Cawley was named to replace Bagnal after an open application process attracted a dozen candidates. Each had a chance to outline their qualifications and address the board publicly to explain why they wanted to serve as a commissioner.

Then when Cochran had to be replaced the next year, the board voted to appoint Teresa Lewis — Cochran’s opponent in the mayoral election — as at-large commissioner. Lewis served out the remainder of the term and decided not to run for re-election in 2011, which led to Graham winning the seat.

Cawley, for one, said he does not have a particular preference for the method employed. “The when and the how is secondary to me,” he said. The priority is “just making sure we get a qualified person.”

Until the vacancy is filled, the mayor will have to break any tie votes that occur, such as last month when she cast the deciding vote on an issue related to the proposed demolition of a dilapidated structure on Taylor Street.

Property Matter

The issue of property demolition is scheduled to be revisited Thursday night when the commissioners receive an update on structures located at 418 Snowhill Drive.

Two mobile homes at that location were scheduled to be approved for demolition in December, when the board voted to have three other structures razed. However, similar action was delayed for the Snowhill Drive properties since their owner was said to be making progress to address the situation on his own.

Thursday’s update on that progress will be given by Andy Goodall, a city planner.

Other Business

Among other matters Thursday, the city commissioners are scheduled to:

• Continue discussion on a proposal to have timber harvested from municipal-owned property at Westwood Industrial Park;

• Hear a report from the city Recycling Advisory Committee by members Ken Klamfoth and Jennifer Nester, which will occur as the two-year anniversary of Mount Airy’s curbside-recycling program approaches;

• Receive an annual report from the Mount Airy Fire Department;

• See an official unveiling of a recently revamped city government website;

• Give special recognition to the city utilities division;

• Consider appointments to the Mount Airy Zoning Board of Adjustment and the local airport authority;

• Conduct a public forum during which citizens may speak on any municipal government topic.

Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or tjoyce@civitasmedia.com.

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