Well that didn’t take long.
The city of Hamlet went less than one full week without an attorney to guide its actions. Mayor Bill Bayless called the City Council into an emergency meeting Monday night, six days after being sworn in as the new mayor. On Dec. 17, the new council voted 3-2 not to re-appointed longtime city attorney SteveFutrell.
On Monday, Futrell was replaced by Rockingham attorney Brent Garner, a native of Hamlet. Garner’s name was suggested by new Council member Eddie Martin. The tag is an interim one for Garner. The city will accept applications for the position through the end of January.
Bayless and Martin figured proceeding with city business without legal advice wasn’t the best way to enter the new year. So they did something about it.
“I called for the meeting,” Bayless said Tuesday. “I told the city manager on Thursday night. She got everything lined up Friday for Monday evening because of the 48-hour notice (requirement). We did a letter on it (and) posted one at the city door.”
Bayless said Garner, recommended to the council by Martin, was not targeted for any specific reason other than he “was just somebody that was available.”
Garner was approved to the temporary post by a 3-1 vote, with Councilman Tony Clewis opposed. Councilman Pat Preslar was not present at the meeting and did not vote.
Bayless said there’s no specific timeline on which to hire a permanent replacement. If five weeks pass and there is no permanent appointment, Garner’s interim position could be extended through February, Bayless said.
“My concern was we did not have an attorney in place,” Bayless said. “I felt like we needed to have an attorney in place in order to do city business.”
Martin echoed Bayless’ sentiments.
“I felt like it was vital to the city that we have a city attorney and not go another day without one,” Martin said.
Bayless said Garner did not attend the meeting. However, after the vote Bayless briefly adjourned the meeting in order to phone Garner about the opportunity.
“I asked if he would accept,” Bayless said. “He seemed to be excited about it” and said yes.
Garner could not be reached for comment at his East Washington Street office on Tuesday, the day before Christmas.
The emergency meeting lasted between 15 and 20 minutes, Bayless said. No other topic was discussed during the meeting.