Posted on: 07.15.2018 at 07:00 a.m.
By Jefferson Weaver
Gray Rogers was appointed to fill out the remaining term of Lake Waccamaw Commissioner Jimmy Stanley Tuesday.
Stanley, who died last month, was memorialized in a town proclamation and a plaque that will be hung in the fire department.
“Mr. Jimmy was like a daddy to many people,” Mayor Daniel Hilburn said after reading the proclamation.
Fire Chief Jerry Gore said Stanley’s contributions to the town and department will be greatly missed. In addition to being a founding member of the fire department and rescue auxiliary, Stanley played a pivotal role in the resurrection of the fire department in 2013.
“There aren’t many like him any more,” Gore said.
While the commissioners and the full house at Tuesday’s meeting were in accord about Stanley, the selection of the veteran commissioner’s replacement was far more controversial.
Rogers, who ran a write-in campaign against Stanley in the last election, was suggested by Hilburn as a replacement shortly after Stanley’s death. Rogers received 76 votes to Stanley’s 211 in the 2015 municipal election. The term expires in 2019.
Residents presented a petition Tuesday asking that Glenn Ray be appointed to the post. The petition had more than 120 signatures from residents of the East Ward.
Several residents harshly criticized the board during the public comments period of the meeting.
“I believe you had your mind made up before you ever came in here,” former Lake Waccamaw Police Sgt. Rocky Coffman said. “You need to listen to the 124 people who signed this petition for Glenn. I don’t care for the way things are being done around here. To be real truthful, I don’t care very much for you.”
“For too long,” Coffman said, “it’s been Daniel’s way or the highway. You need to listen to the people of your town, not some special interests. I wish you’d reconsider. This isn’t a monopoly.”
Ray also spoke, and emphasized that he had nothing personal against Rogers.
“Nobody can fill Jimmy Stanley’s shoes,” he said. “A lot of people feel we should have a voice in this process.”
Commissioner Kevin Butler made a motion to appoint Ray to the seat, but the motion died for a lack of second. Commissioner Matt Wilson then nominated Rogers, and received a second from commissioner Frank Carroll.
Butler cast the sole negative vote, but seconded the motion to make Wilson Mayor Pro Tem.
In an unusual move, each of the commissioners spoke at the end of the meeting.
Wilson castigated critics who he said have accused him of being a “yes man to Daniel.”
“I vote the way I want to vote, what I think is right,” Wilson said. “I am not Daniel’s yes man, and I’m tired of people saying that. It simply isn’t true.
“Gray went out and got on the ballot,” Wilson said.
Carroll, who called Stanley his “best friend,” said he spent several “sleepless nights wondering what to do.
“Gray got the votes in the last election,” Carroll said. “In the end, I thought that was the best reason to give him a chance. There’s what, a little over a year left on this seat? If he doesn’t do right, you can vote him out, just like you can any of us.”
Butler thanked the crowd for showing up.
“Sometimes it takes a matter like this for people to attend,” Butler said. “We wish you’d be here all the time, every meeting.”
Butler also emphasized that he had nothing personal against Rogers, and since the board had made its decision, he would work with the new commissioner as with any other board member.
“We can all get along,” he said. “We all agree on one thing – we all want what’s best for our town and the Lake.”