Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.
And it was the end of the reign for Halifax’s first female Mayor Kristy Johnson when Halifax Town Council met Tuesday.
Johnson’s last meeting as mayor was in December with incoming Mayor Dexter Gilliam taking over.
In commending Johnson for her public service, council presented her with a resolution recognizing her contributions to the “quality of life, general welfare and well-being of all those who visit, work and live in the town of Halifax, including all citizens of Halifax County.”
Gilliam also presented her with her gavel, and Espy pulled out a special surprise, a hand-painted child’s rocking chair from the Rock n’ Read fundraiser at the South Boston Public Library.
Johnson was appointed to the town of Halifax Planning Commission on Sept. 13, 2011 before joining council on March 13, 2013. She was then asked to serve as mayor following the death of Mayor Gilbert Fleming Moore on July 26, 2015, and Johnson was then elected on Nov. 3, 2015.
After thanking Johnson for her service and the citizens who elected him to serve, Gilliam said he looks forward to serving the best he can.
He also took the time to speak about the late Sylvia McLaughlin, owner and editor of the News & Record, who passed away Dec. 24.
“There’s a void tonight I think all of us feel in that Sylvia McLaughlin is not with us, and she attended these meetings routinely and regularly,” said Gilliam. “She was a steward of our community, and there’s an empty spot back there tonight. I think we all are thinking about Sylvia’s family.”
Looking into the future, Gilliam said, “I look forward to working not only with the citizens and businesses of the town, I look forward to working with members of council. I look forward to working with employees and the staff as we look for ways to grow and move forward. As I mentioned throughout the campaign, one of the things that I think is key for us is that we work with the other governing bodies and associations and organizations.”
The new mayor then requested Bill Confroy continue serving as vice-mayor and suggested all committees remain as is with Councilman Mike Trent serving as business development chairman, Councilman Bill Covington as finance chair and Confroy as current affairs chairman.
In discussing possible candidates for appointment to the planning commission to fill the seat becoming vacant due to outgoing Commissioner Jerry Epps leaving, Confroy suggested Karen Schopen fill the seat.
Gilliam suggested waiting to make a decision on the matter to see if there were any other possible candidates, and council member Gail Bosiger noted her area is not represented on the planning commission.
Moving on to their work session, Assistant Town Manager Denise Barksdale updated council on Halifax Farmers Market activities saying weather permitting the indoor market should open from 9 to 1 p.m. this Saturday.
She also said as part of supporting agriculture development, both the Halifax Farmers Market and the South Boston Farmers Market are planning joint activities and ways to share in advertising.
In the absence of the finance chair, Espy presented the December finance report and gave an update on the 2018 real estate and personal property tax collections.
Updating council on current affairs, Confroy gave updates on the status of VDOT’s six-year improvement plan 2018 Smart Scale projects and two derelict/nuisance properties that are under contract to be demolished. However, contractors are waiting on suitable weather to begin demolition.
During their meeting, council members agreed to table any action on amendments to the Halifax Town Code “Health and Sanitation” with Jack Dunavant and Trent agreeing to meet once again to make additional changes.
In other action, council heard the monthly police report from Halifax Police Chief Stuart Comer who said one felony arrest was made along with five misdemeanor arrests, and one protective order was served.
Officers answered 401 calls for service, issued 40 traffic summons, worked six traffic accidents and issued 35 warnings during the month of December.