Councilwoman Shirley Fuller served on the city’s decision-making body for two terms, totaling six years, before finishing fourth in November’s hotly-contested Rockingham City Council race that featured six candidates vying for three seats.
Fuller finished fourth in the election, and will be replaced by Travis Billingsley.
“It has been a true honor to serve on Rockingham City Council, and it’s been a humbling experience,” Fuller told the more than 100 employees and guests in attendance. “It has also been an educational experience for me, and I’ve enjoyed it. I like for do for people, and being the principal of a school, I do everything I can for students. Working on city council, I wanted to do all I could for citizens.”
In addition to Fuller’s service on the council, she is the principal of Rockingham Middle School.
During his introduction of her, Rockingham Mayor Gene McLaurin thanked Fuller “for a job well-done.”
“You are what make Rockingham a great place to live and work and raise a family, and we love you,” he said, embracing Fuller after those words.
McLaurin also delivered a state of the city address to the employees of Rockingham City Government, noting progress made over the past 12 months in several areas.
Included in his address was a review of projects including expanding public sewer service into East Rockingham, wastewater treatment regionalization with the Town of Ellerbe and industry expansion at Perdue Farms, von Drehle Corporation and Cascades Moulded Pulp and Tissue Group.
“No doubt we’ve had a tough year in 2009,” McLaurin began his speech. “I remember a memo (Rockingham City Manager Monty Crump) sent out in January 2009 with the economic challenges we were facing, and cost containment measures that were being put in place across the board. We were doing everything we could to keep the city operating and to allow the citizens to be able to continue to receive the services they were accustomed to.”
He noted that throughout the economic downturn, no one has been let go from their position with the Rockingham City Government due to budgetary concerns.
“We can be thankful that we all have a job, because that is something that not everyone in our community can say,” he said.
Crump recognized four city employees who are retiring at the end of the year, as well as nine new hires during the past year.
Among those retirees was City Clerk Johnsey Lunsford, whose son Alonso was wounded in the Fort Hood attack in Texas last month.
Also retiring are sanitation employee Ralph Murray, volunteer firefighter Stan McQueen and water department employee Gary Johnson.
“Every year, we send out our longevity checks on the week before Thanksgiving,” Crump said at the podium. “Only those who have been with the city for 10 or more years qualify for those checks, and this year we had 59 employees who got a longevity check, out of 131 total employees.”
He noted the number speaks to the loyalty of the city staff, that so many of them have been with the municipal government for that amount of time.
Entertainment was provided by a pair of singers, Laura Pettler of Waxhaw and Matthew Gibson of Charlotte.
Pettler is the forensic investigator for the North Carolina Prosecutorial District 20 A District Attorney’s Office, with Richmond County falling under its jurisdiction.
She sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “O, Holy Night” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”
There were also drawings for door prizes, with city employees receiving gift cards of $25, $50 and $100.
Water Department employee Bruce Brown won the grand prize safety drawing, and was awarded a $300 prize.
The invocation at the event was conducted by City Councilman Steve Morris.
“We thank you that we live in such a wonderful city in the greatest country in the world, and I pray that we continue to use our skills and talents and insights to improve Rockingham and Richmond County,” Morris prayed as the event began.
Staff Writer Philip D. Brown can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 32, or by e-mail at email@example.com.