Rockingham’s newest mayor is a familiar face downtown.
Long-time local businessman Steve Morris was elected to the mayor’s post at Tuesday’s monthly meeting of the Rockingham City Council.
The meeting was opened by Mayor Pro tem John Hutchinson.
Councilman Bennett Deane III then made a motion to nominate Morris as mayor, which was seconded by Councilman A. Eugene Willard. Nominations were closed and the City Council then voted unanimously to elect Morris as mayor.
Former mayor Gene McLaurin officially resigned the post last week, and on Friday was sworn in to his new job as State Senator for District 25. Morris will serve the remainder of McLaurin’s term, through the end of 2013.
City Clerk Gwendolyn Swinney then administered the Oath of Office to Morris, who had his family in attendance for the special moment.
Morris’ wife, Cynthia, was there, along with daughter Stephanie and her husband, Melvin Thomas, and their children Mason and Cooper.
Morris took the mayor’s seat at the center of the City Council table and presided over his first meeting as mayor. Later, looking at the empty chair at the table, said the City Council will need to find a suitable new face to join them. Morris asked for any city resident desiring the open seat on the council to contact City Manager Monty Crump with a resume, and hopefully the council can fill the vacancy at its February meeting.
Morris, 67, is the owner of Helms Jewelers in downtown Rockingham. He’s had the business for 37 years.
Morris served on the City Council once before, from 1979-83, and was elected again in the year 2000 and subsequent elections.
“I am deeply honored and flattered to have been appointed Mayor of Rockingham by my fellow city council members. The challenges will be great, the opportunities will be ripe, and with this council’s help we will be up to the task,” Morris said.
“I thank my wife, Cynthia, for not only allowing me, but encouraging me to devote the time and effort to the job of being Mayor. For over 48 years she has been my biggest cheerleader, my partner, my advisor, and my best friend.
” … I will be a dreamer and try to paint with a big brush. I promise to always look at the bright side of every issue … So get ready. Rockingham has been a city looking forward and that is not going to stop … Let’s see what we can do together. Thanks for the opportunity of a life time,” Morris said.
In other action Tuesday, the city council:
• Approved the demolition of a dilapidated dwelling at 113 S. Grove St., and in a separate case, approved the demolition of a dilapidated dwelling at 714 Hwy 1 North.
• Listened to a report on activities of the Lumber River Council of Governments by liaison staff member Michael Ramey.
• Approved a resolution that Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, be set aside as a day to remember slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
• Scheduled a public hearing for its next regular meeting, Feb. 12, on a request to rezone about 6 acres at 106 Old River Road from High Density Residential (R-7) to Highway Business (B-3). City staff said the applicant, VFW Post 4203, had plans to place sweepstakes gaming machines in the VFW Post building, and even in light of a recent court ruling declaring the machines illegal, the applicant still wants to proceed with the rezoning request.
• Scheduled a public hearing for Feb. 12 on an ordinance to adopt the Pee Dee Lumber Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan.
— Editor John Charles Robbins can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 13, or by email at email@example.com.