HAMLET — It was a passing of the torch Tuesday night in the chambers of Hamlet City Hall as the city council said goodbye to outgoing members Pat Preslar and Tony Clewis and welcomed newcomers David Lindsey and Wendy Massagee.
“It’s a good day for Hamlet,” said Preslar. “I’ve been here for 16 years. A lot has gone on with the town.”
The council veteran went on to thank former and present council members and mayors he had worked with over the years as well as city employees and the residents of Hamlet.
“I need to thank my mom, who is my biggest supporter, and my dad who is no longer with me. Dad asked me, ‘Why? Why did you run?’ I’ve lost a little hair. It’s turning gray in some spots. I’ve been blessed in working with some knowledgeable and wise people. I thank God that I had an opportunity to be with these people and learn from them.”
Clewis, who’s been on the board for eight years, also thanked all the employees, telling them they have done a great job.
“It was a hard decision not to run,” he said. “When you put your heart and soul into this, you miss it. I thank the citizens of Hamlet. I’ve tried to do my best.”
Both Preslar and Clewis left new council members Lindsey and Massagee with some sage advice before they exited City Hall as board members for the last time.
“It takes a couple years to get your feet wet,” Preslar said. “It takes time. It takes cooperation. It’s time for me to go. It’s time for new ideas. I think 16 years is enough, but I appreciate the opportunity to serve you.”
Clewis echoed Preslar’s comments but added there can also be some ridicule that comes along with the position.
“I wanna say to David and Wendy, it’s cold outside, but sometimes these chairs get hot.”
Lindsey and Massagee both took their seats behind the council dais, received their new name plaques and pins from City Clerk Tammy Kirkley and mostly looked and listened while other agenda items were discussed and approved. Both admitted they were a little timid.
“I know David and I have big shoes to fill,” said Massagee. “It’s exciting. I’m a little bit scared. I’m being honest. Everyone has been very gracious. I’m glad to have my first night under me.”
Lindsey said he was also excited to be a part of the council, but called it different and challenging to rule on items that affect residents’ everyday lives.
“I’ve been to a lot of meetings from the other side. We have to make a lot of decisions that affect people,” he said.
The two newcomers were relatively quiet on their first night in office but wanted residents to know they have big plans for the city. Lindsey said he’s always been a big supporter of the parks and recreation department and looks to continue improving that, as well as working to make something happen with the former opera house on Main Street in downtown Hamlet.
Massagee said she wants to continue trying to put Hamlet on the map not only on a local level, but throughout the state and nation.
“I just wanna make this community, this place a draw,” she said.
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674 and follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson.