Meet the Mayors – Aberdeen, Cameron, Carthage, Foxfire, Pinebluff
With the national elections behind us and President’s Day before, I started thinking about our local leadership right here in Moore County and embarked on a fascinating journey to meet the Mayors. The role of being a mayor is truly a service opportunity, one with little or no pay, but one full of responsibility and commitments. Have you had the privilege of meeting your mayor? Well, now’s your chance in print.
Elected when? 13 years ago as this is my 7th term. I was a commissioner for 12 years.
Elected by Resident? Yes. Commissioners serve a 4 year term, and the mayor serves a 2 year term.
Do you get a vote? Only in the case of a tie. In 12 years, I have cast a tie vote only 1 time.
How many commissioners? 5
Responsibilities of mayor? Well, I conduct the meetings, use proper parliamentary procedure, and represent the town in an official capacity. I have fun and enjoy life. All those wonderful things.
Responsibilities of citizens? Obey the laws, take pride in the community, and work to improve it. Offer suggestions to the board. We have a wonderful blend of young and younger residents with a lot of lifetime experiences. We are particularly blessed to have military families who bring with them just a wealth of knowledge.
Greatest challenges of being a mayor? I would say the greatest challenge for anybody who holds public office is zoning. Making sure that your area thrives but thrives in a controlled methodical way, that you don’t grow just for the sake of growing.
Greatest highlight of being a mayor? Pride in representing such a lovely town. Hometown pride. It is really quite an honor to be the mayor of any town, and golly to be the mayor of Aberdeen…wow! It is wonderful!
What is something few people know about Aberdeen? Lifestyle. They don’t realize what a wonderful lifestyle Aberdeen has. We have excellent services in police, fire, and water, etc.
Town’s greatest feature? The citizens.
2013 goals? Continued, controlled growth. Planting more trees. We have a lot of developments going on. We have a huge church community. Very family-oriented. We have a grand retail community. You can be in your home on a quiet tree-lined street, and in 5 minutes you can be right in the middle of all the chain stores.
Your vision for the town? I desire slow, methodical growth, so that the next generation to grow up in Aberdeen will have the same joys that I had in Aberdeen.
Why is it one of the greatest towns in America? It is the greatest, there is no question about that. Certainly it’s because of the people, but also we have the best of everything. It is just the garden spot. We are blessed to have neighbors like Pinebluff, Pinehurst, and Southern Pines.
Where did you grow up? Where do you think? In Aberdeen. My father was a commissioner, my grandfather was a commissioner; I kind of grew up with the idea of hometown leadership. The joy and strength of local politics is it’s not partisan.
Interests? I love to be around my friends and socialize. I love to study the Bible. I love being around my family; my two girls grew up in Aberdeen, but both wound up in NY. I also love sales! I have a friend in Aberdeen who lets me come and help out in her shop. Helping people buy things is what I enjoy.
Role model? My mom- Susan McLean Bridgers – just because she was such a good person. I would love to be as good as she was.
Favorite book? Yes. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.
Favorite character trait? Honesty.
Favorite way to spend a completely “free” day in Moore County? Sitting on my front porch on a sunny day.
ABERDEEN HISTORY with Betsy Mofield
Aberdeen was settled by Scottish people in the 1700’s, but they were of the nature that they didn’t want any government control; so it was not incorporated until 1893. Turpentine and lumber was the big industry at the time in a town of very independent Scotsmen.
Significant historical event? In 1962, there was a movie filmed in Aberdeen and Ft. Bragg called Airborne.
On South Street and Sycamore Street in Aberdeen, there is a service station known as the Glory Hole. My dad uncles used to go down there to sit around, play cards, and talk with other men. Politicians found out about it, so when running for any office county, state, or even national, they went down there to meet the locals.
Elected when? Nov. 2009. Being the mayor is a 4 year term. Previously, I served on the board as commissioner.
Elected by Residents? Yes.
Do you get a vote? Only on a tie. If we have a tie, I vote.
How many commissioners? We have 5 council members plus the mayor.Responsibilities of mayor? I oversee the workers that we have in the town. We are a small town, so we only have 3 full-time employees. I also oversee the meetings.
Responsibilities of citizens? Anything they would like to do in town to help out, we appreciate. We have several that pitch in and volunteer their time and help. Most of the commissioners also volunteer their time and services for projects that we have ongoing. Our park was accomplished with donations and volunteer work.
Greatest challenges of being a mayor? Trying to keep everybody happy; trying to make things go smoothly. Sometimes there are issues that you have to bring to others’ attention and that’s tough. When the citizens desire things that you can’t deliver – that’s a challenge.
Greatest highlight of being a mayor? When people come to the park and comment that it is really nice; because we all had a part in it through volunteering. When people come and enjoy Cameron, that’s a highlight. We’ve hosted the Street Fair (Antique Fair) for around 25 years now, and the crowds have been estimated at between 10 and 20 thousand people.
What is something few people know about Cameron? We are halfway between Southern Pines and Sanford. It is about 16 miles to Sanford and about 16 miles to Southern Pines. We are on old #1 and 24/27.
Town’s greatest feature? The antique stores and the park. Phillip’s Memorial Park is 25 acres. The park has a walking trail, play equipment for children, a pond and where you can fish, and we have handicap accessible picnic tables.
2013 agenda? The budget. We have the budget laid out, and it is just a matter of making the funds match the budget, just like every other town probably. We have operated on a tight budget as long as I have been here. We have tried to generate business, but we don’t have a sewer system, and I think that is one of our biggest drawbacks to trying to get a business in.
Why is it one of the greatest towns in America? It is just a wonderful small town to be a part of.
Where did you grow up? I was born in Laurinburg, and I lived in Laurel Hill until 1973. We moved to Cameron in 1973, because my dad got the postmaster’s position at Cameron. I attended Cameron Elementary and Union Pines for high school. I met my wife in school, and we have been married 33 wonderful years. My wife and I raised a son and a daughter here.
Interests? My dad and I enjoy antique cars. My grand kids keep me interested right now. Another interest is that my wife and I shag together. There are shag groups in both Moore and Lee Counties.
Role model? My dad.
Favorite character trait? People that are easy to get along with, outgoing, and I would say honesty, of course, is on the top of anybody’s list.
Favorite way to spend a completely “free” day in Moore County? I guess I would just go for a drive and see some new scenery and things in Moore County that I don’t usually don’t take the time to see.
CAMERON HISTORY with Michael Thomason
Cameron began with the arrival of Plank Road in the 1850s. The railroad arrived in 1875, and helped to increase the successful turpentine and dewberry businesses in Cameron. Listed on the National Register of Historic Sites, Cameron has many beautiful historic buildings.
Significant historical event? It was the Dewberry capital of the world at one time. The dewberry is like a blackberry, with a slightly different taste. In downtown Cameron, the Dewberry Deli sells the famous dewberry jelly. Awarded the “Best Antique Area” in both NC and Moore and also featured in Southern Living, Cameron is known for antiques.
Elected when? Nov. 2011
Elected by Residents? Yes.
Do you get a vote? I get a vote if there is a tie.
How many commissioners? We have 5 council members plus the mayor. Responsibilities of mayor? Well, my primary responsibility is to set the agenda and to make sure the meetings run well. Then I am also to promote business and be a spokesperson for the town.
Responsibilities of citizens? First of all, as the mayor of the council, it is a privilege to serve. It is not a job, it is a privilege being a servant to the people. However, I am also a member of the public, so our job as residents is to let the town know what the needs are and to help out every way we can. To keep our houses and our streets clean of trash and to make sure that above all that everybody is safe.
Greatest challenges of being a mayor? I think the greatest challenge so far is conveying the message to the public that we are all in it together, and that no one is higher than anyone else. We are all in it together. Everybody does have a part. Everybody is equal.
Greatest highlight of being a mayor? The public. Talking to every person from the business owners, to the homeowners and the renters – everyone. That is the best thing.
What is something few people know about Carthage? Mr. Jones, the co-owner of Tyson-Jones Buggy Factory, was a black man who served in the Civil War. Mr. Jones eventually bought half of the buggy factory. The Tyson and Jones Buggy Company was the largest factory in Moore County in the 1800s-1900s producing 3,000 buggies a year titled the “Cadillac of Carriages.”
Town’s greatest feature? The people. We have a lot of close knit, good people. We have a lot of families. People care.
2013 goals? Bringing in new businesses. Bringing in Mom-and-Pops. The other challenge is we need stuff for kids. We don’t have near what we need around this area for recreation for the kids.
Your vision for the town? My vision for the town is to have every store front filled. The other thing is we are going to start having events like drive ins, you know like a car show night, etc. We are starting a Farmer’s Market in the spring. Why is it one of the greatest towns in America? Primarily, because it is a small town, you have a sense of community and family. We are the county seat of a high tourist area – Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Seagrove. We are in the center of it, and we need to capitalize on it.
Where did you grow up? In Carthage. I grew up down here on McReynolds Street and then went to Campbell University and studied Physical Education, and I played baseball for Campbell. Calvin Koonce, my coach who played for 69 Mets, had a big World Series ring. My wife and I moved back to Carthage after some time.
Interests? Scuba diving. I play softball. I do a lot of writing. I am working on a novel – I know everybody is working on a novel. Actually I am working on two novels at the same time.
Favorite historical figure? My favorite is Ben Franklin because he did a little bit of everything. His tombstone says, “Here lies Benjamin Franklin, printer,” but he did all sorts of things.
Favorite author? I like Nicholas Sparks. He writes like a Norman Rockwell because he brings it to life.
Favorite character trait? Someone that listens and looks you in the eyes.
Favorite way to spend a completely “free” day in Moore County? My favorite would be to take a ride on my Harley.
CARTHAGE HISTORY with Lee McGraw
Scottish immigrants came up through the Cape Fear Valley and settled on the high hill during the mid 1780s, naming the new town Fagansville, after an early pioneer, Richardson Fagin. The first courthouse was built in 1785. In 1796, the second came along and moved to the center of the county, and was named Carthage. In 1814, a wooden courthouse, built in the highest elevation around at almost 900 feet, collapsed in 1837. The next brick one burned in 1889. Another brick courthouse replaced the previous. In 1922, the present-day courthouse was built. The 6th courthouse is across the street from the historic one. Being the county seat means lots of courthouses!
Significant historical event? Henry Ford wanted to put a factory here. Basically, we had people who knew how to make and manufacture buggies, and incidentally, they used an assembly line. Henry Ford usually gets credit for the assembly line, but he didn’t start that idea. Ford never came because they said,“Oh no, the buggy will never go away.”
Elected when? Dec. 2005 for a 4-year term.
Elected by Residents? No. By the elected council
Do you get a vote? Yes. Each vote counts the same.
How many commissioners? 5 Responsibilities of mayor? Basically I work with the other council members. Each council member has an area of responsibility. For example, one has streets and roads, one covers public safety, one is responsible for our water system, and the fourth member is responsible for finances.
Responsibilities of citizens? One of the things that we have tried to work on as we have had this incredible growth from ‘04 to ‘08, is to get residents involved in the community by serving on committees like planning and zoning, appearance committees, and so on. Also we completely updated our web site to keep people informed.
Greatest challenges of being a mayor? In a smaller community like this, it is the financial challenges. We are also concerned about this fracking issue because our water system is through a series of wells.
Greatest highlight of being a mayor? For me, it has been that growth of the community. It happened because we worked to make it happen. We have become a younger, more balanced community. For example, in the 2000 census, we were the second oldest community in NC. With the new census, that number has dropped into the upper 50s. It encourages me to see families and kids enjoying our municipal pool and park.
What is something few people know about Foxfire? Most people don’t realize how much we have grown over a relatively short time, both in pop. and size. We have more than doubled since 2003. Also because everything looks pretty flat in Foxfire, you don’t see the beauty that awaits you on our golf courses. We have some spectacular views on both the East and the West courses.
Town’s greatest feature? Foxfire offers a nice, quiet community with some amenities such as the pool, the park, and 2 golf courses. We are also 2 1/2 hours from the beach, and 3 hours from the mountains.
2013 goals? Our long-range planning committee is preparing to report on accomplishing goals over the next year, over the next 3 years, over the next 5 years. This will be a 5-year plan for the council to review and move forward on. We also have 160 acres for sale, and that is our biggest challenge right now.
Your vision for the town? My vision is for the community to continue to grow, to be able to keep our taxes relatively low, and to remain a nice, quiet community in the county.
Why is it one of the greatest, towns in America? Foxfire is a quiet, small community.
Where did you grow up? Ohio. My childhood town was around 60,000. While vacationing with friends in the 70s, they said, “We hear there is this place called Pinehurst, so why don’t we all stop there on the way back home?” Well, by the late 80s and early 90s, we all moved here. My 3 grown daughters all live in NC.
Interests? I play some golf. I enjoy watching sports, particularly football.
Favorite historical figure? Dwight Eisenhower because of his role during WWII and his role in the transition that took place after the war.
Favorite book? I like David McCullough’s books. He has written a number of biographies.
Favorite character trait? Honesty.
Favorite way to spend a completely “free” day in Moore County? I would play golf and enjoy the outdoors.
FOXFIRE HISTORY with George Erickson
Beginning as a golf resort in 1960s, Foxfire became incorporated in 1977. Foxfire offers two 18 hole golf courses, large residential lots, and a growing community.
Significant historical event? A battle fought during the Revolutionary War took place in what’s called the East Golf Course.
Elected when? Nov. of 1997. I am finishing 15 years.
Elected by Residents? Yes. The mayor and the commissioners serve a 2-year term.
Do you get a vote? The only time I get a vote is when there is a tie. In 15 years, I have only voted 3 times.
How many commissioners? 5 commissioners plus the mayor.
Responsibilities of mayor? I am basically the administrator. My job is to gather all the information from the town clerk and others. I make sure that this board has all the information they need to make an informed decision.
Responsibilities of citizens? #1. Let the town know if there is something we can do to improve a service. #2. We all ought to be willing to step forward, do something productive, and ask, “What can I do to help?” As JFK said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” The same principles hold true in towns.
Greatest challenges of being a mayor? One of the challenges in a small town is providing services for all different departments and having a budget that does not overtax your people.
Greatest highlight of being a mayor? Working with that budget is definitely a highlight. I love being able to see us grow and to see us have a low tax rate. Another highlight is working with the Veteran’s Memorial Committee to build a permanent memorial to honor our military. Working on the new history book is a highlight.
What is something few people know about Pinebluff? Pinebluff used to have its own rail station with a huge lake beside it and Big Lake behind the Depot. Out in the middle of Big Lake there was a little island named Coney Island (like in New York) where they had picnics. In 1934, the dam burst, and there was no money to replace it.
Town’s greatest feature? The people. The people are the greatest feature we have.
2013 goals? We are planning to build our new Public Safety Building. We have already put out bids, and we are negotiating with the contractor.
Your vision for the town? I want to see Pinebluff remain a warm residential community, but I would like to see us become more self sufficient. We need enough businesses to be able to fund a full-time Police Dept. and a full-time paid Fire Dept. We need a real grocery store and such so the elderly don’t have to leave town.
Why is it one of the greatest, towns in America? The people. It is a community where we still care for one another. We still have some of our old values that made this country great.
Where did you grow up? Pinebluff. I graduated from Aberdeen High School; from there, I attended many schools earning a bachelors from Campbell and receiving a MA from Meredith. I met my husband while waitressing in Pine Acres Restaurant. We had 4 girls and 1 boy and have been married for 45 years! Now we have 5 grandchildren – 4 grandsons and 1 granddaughter. They are wonderful!
Interests? I cross stitch. I enjoy my flowers. But my real passion is the piano. I can play the piano for hours without stopping. In piano, I like Chopin and Brahms; organ – Bach and Widor, and I adore Elvis Presley’s gospel songs.
Favorite Historical Figure? Bach was a genius. His music is amazing, complex, and intricate.
Favorite author? Patricia Cornwell
Favorite character trait? Honesty.
Favorite way to spend a completely “free” day in Moore County? I would either be walking, or I would be on a horse in the woods somewhere. I haven’t ridden in 30 years, but I can still remember the joys of being on a horse out in the middle of the Moss foundation.
PINEBLUFF HISTORY with Earlene McLamb Pinebluff was incorporated in 1899, and began as a resort. There was a huge, beautiful hotel featuring a golf course that went on both sides of US#1. The depression got it, and it became a sanitarium for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts under Dr. Kemp.
Significant historical event? Dr. Kemp took the Pinebluff Inn and made a sanitarium. The Inn was one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen. In 1975, it burned down.
April 4, 1963, was called Black Friday when a fire swept through. The fire started at 10:30 AM near Foxifre; by 5:30PM, it had jumped US#1, and we lost several homes. We had troops from Fort Bragg, the forestry service, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, etc. Drowning Creek stopped it.