[news Newton resigns as alderman

By Russell Hood The Webster Progress-Times

Ricky Newton has resigned as Eupora’s Ward 3 alderman and the city has appointed Alvin “Buster” Duvall to serve out the remainder of his term.

Newton, who was in his second term, resigned as the alderman for his ward as of Friday, Jan. 4. Mayor Tommy Lott presented his letter of resignation to the Board of Aldermen during a special called meeting Friday morning.

Newton was absent because he had the flu and was trying to stay at home and recover as soon as possible, according to his letter. The other four board members voted to accept his resignation.

Lott said Newton was following state statute in deciding to resign, and did not want to cause any potential conflict-of-interest problems in the then-planned promotion of his sister-in-law, Gail Newton, to city clerk.

Ricky Newton, in his letter of resignation, stated he is going to seek the office of alderman in the municipal general election in June. He recommended Duvall, a painting contractor, as his replacement for the rest of this term, which is through June 30.

When a vacancy occurs in an elective city office and the unexpired term doesn’t exceed six months, the remainder of the city’s governing board fills the vacancy by appointment.

City aldermen decided to delay an appointment until they met again Monday night so that Duvall could be present. Lott did recommend then that Duvall be appointed to fill the unexpired term, and the board voted 4-0 to do so.

Before voting however, Billy Brister (Ward 2) asked Duvall if he intended to run for the Ward 3 spot in the upcoming election. Duvall said he did not, adding, “I’m willing to help the town all I can.”

The city clerk must certify the appointment to the secretary of state’s office, then the governor commissions the appointee. Board attorney Hugh Gibson said Duvall would not be able to officially take a seat on the board until February, after the certification and commissioning.

March 8 is the qualifying deadline to run in the 2013 municipal elections. Party primaries take place May 7 with runoffs on May 21 if needed. The general election occurs June 4, when independent candidates will appear on the ballot. Municipal officers’ terms begin in July.

Promotion Approved Following the resignation of then-city clerk Lesa Hardin, the Board of Aldermen voted Oct. 30 to promote Gail Newton from deputy clerk to city clerk. Ricky Newton left the meeting before that vote.

Aldermen voted Nov. 12 to raise her pay retroactive to Oct. 25 because of Hardin being on sick leave and Gail Newton accepting additional responsibilities. The motion also directed that she assume full responsibility and title of city clerk as of Jan. 7 (Hardin’s resignation was not effective until Dec. 31). Ricky Newton abstained.

The board also voted, after then-alderman Newton left the room, to put on the agenda for the regular January meeting that Gail Newton would assume full responsibility and title of city clerk.

At that meeting Monday night, the four remaining board members did vote to promote her to city clerk upon Lott’s recommendation.

They later went into executive session to discuss personnel. Afterwards in open session, according to unofficial minutes, Brister made a motion, seconded by Vickey Patterson (Ward 1) to increase the pay for Gail Newton and Street Superintendent Will Gary to $30,000 annually. The motion was approved 4-0.

The board was to have another special called meeting Wednesday morning to again discuss personnel.