By Crystal McGough
The new Clay City Council was sworn into office Monday night at the Clay Community Center at 6 p.m.
Local attorney Alan Summers swore in Charles Webster to the position of City of Clay Mayor, Ben Thackerson to Council Place 3, Mark Halstead to Council Place 4 and Ricky Baker to Council Place 5. Halstead and Baker have both served on the council previously, but not in the last administration.
Becky Johnson, who is returning to Council Place 1 for her second term, was sworn in by her son, Pastor Bo Johnson of Living Word Church in Pinson.
Kevin Small, who is returning to Council Place 2 for his second term, was sworn in by his pastor, Chase Thompson of Agape Baptist Church in Pinson.
“It’s been a very humbling experience to go through this,” Mayor Webster said. “My prayer is that each one of these members and myself serve (the citizens) at the best of our ability for the next four years.”
After the new city officials took their oaths of office, the council held a brief reception prior to conducting its first official council meeting at 7 p.m.
During the regular council meeting, the council elected Councilwoman Becky Johnson to be the new Mayor Pro Tempore, and Alan Summers was appointed as the new city attorney. The previous city attorney was Russell Steen.
The newly seated council members were each appointed to their standing committees, as well.
Webster will oversee the Committee on Finance.
“We’ll actually probably have new members on a lot of these committees,” Webster said. “So if you know of anybody who would like to serve on a committee…call city hall or call one of us and let us know.”
Johnson was appointed to the Committee on Schools, to be the liaison to the Seniors’ Advisory Board and to be the Planning and Zoning Commission Councilor Ex-Officio
“We do try to work closely with our schools,” Johnson said. “We’re excited to see one of our principals here.”
Small is to be the liaison over Public Works and the Library Board.
“I’m looking forward to working with Public Works, looking forward to seeing what the future holds with that,” Small said. “Also, the opportunity to work with the library, I’m very excited about that.”
Thackerson will be the Parks and Recreation Board liaison. He has served as chairman of the Parks and Recreation Board for the last four years.
“We’ve been working hard on the parks for several years and we want to continue that,” Thackerson said. “We’re looking for new park board members, so if you’re interested, contact me or city hall.”
Halstead is to oversee the Committee on Community Development and Annexations, as well as serve as the Building Inspections liaison.
“I’m looking forward to getting started and working with Lynn (Burch, the city’s building inspector),” Halstead said.
Baker was assigned to oversee the Committee on Public Safety.
“If you’re interested in being on the committee, let me know,” Baker said. “We’re hoping to improve safety. Hopefully, we can get a new police force if possible. If not, we can move maybe in the direction of getting the reserves back in the city of Clay. They haven’t been here, from my understanding, for four years.”
The council also passed two motions concerning the 2012-2016 council term.
The council approved Ordinance 2012-09, which is the organizational ordinance for the council. A few minor changes were made to the city’s organizational ordinance, including that council meetings will now be held at the new Clay City Hall at 7 p.m., with no prior pre-council meeting. Also, “the time allotted for Scheduled Public Comments shall be three minutes per speaker, totaling fifteen minutes for the entire segment or the agenda, to be extended at the discretion of the council.” Scheduled public comments must also be in reference to an item on the agenda, unless otherwise approved by the mayor.
Ordinance 2012-10, which is an ordinance to establish committees for the Nov. 2012 through Oct. 2016 term, was also approved unanimously.
This ordinance establishes the city’s standing committees as: the Committee on Finance, consisting of five members; the Committee on Public Safety, consisting of five members; the Committee on Community Development and Annexations, consisting of five members; and the Committee on Schools, consisting of seven members.
In other news, the council adopted a motion “providing that all administrative officers and employees, including the City Clerk (Bob Christmas), of the municipality shall continue in their respective duties temporarily, pending such time as the Council shall make permanent appointments.”
The council also passed a motion to enter into a three-year lease agreement with Christmas Decor for the city’s holiday lighting.
The agreement includes $1,550 for the lighting of the city Christmas tree at the former city hall location, a total of $1,190 for decorations and lighting at the Cosby Lake House, and up to $6,640 for decorations and lighting at the new Clay City Hall.