Highland Board Member Speaks Out on Town Issues

We’ve been reporting this week from a special meeting of Mount Gilead Town Commissioners that was held Mon., June 24, at the fire station. The meeting was called to hear information about the town’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and, in particular, the possible impact on work proposed at Highland Community Center.

Mayor Patty Almond did not attend the meeting, and the Commissioners ultimately gave Mayor Pro-Tem Tim McAuley permission to sign documents related to the grant. They also authorized Town Manager Katrina Tatum to try to negotiate the rehiring of grant administrator Mary Beck, who resigned after she said she was “highly insulted” by Mayor Almond.

Work at the Highland Community Center that is planned to be done with CDBG funds remains in limbo while the town tries to negotiate a second extension of time. That work includes the demolition of two unusable buildings at Highland, and, at Monday’s meeting, Town Commissioners heard from some members of the Highland Center’s board of directors, including Mary Pemberton, Asia Dumas and Johnny Greene. We’ve heard from Pemberton and Dumas earlier this week.

Johnny Greene was the last of the three to address Commissioners, and he offered his observations about what he has seen develop in the town.

“I’ve been in this town for years,” Greene said. “I know everybody that lives here almost, unless they moved here recently. I worked here as a public worker for over 30 years, and all the people I know, some of them are a whole lot younger than I am. I know when this town was really on the ball everybody used to come here to have a meeting and you couldn’t even get in the door, there’d be so many people here.”

Greene was particularly concerned about what he characterized as a trend away from cooperative participation in town government.

“You know, you come to your town meetings, people come here just to sit up and start an argument, just to argue about something. They come here with a complaint. And you should come try to learn something, not complain.”

Johnny Greene questioned the actions of some who he says are following bad behavior.

“With this going on with our downtown stuff we have here with our Mayor, that’s not helping this town at all. And we have people here that know it’s not helping, and some just follow in the footsteps of others. Why follow somebody when you know that they’re wrong?”

Johnny Greene is on the Highland Community Center board of directors and is also head of the Mount Gilead Concerned Citizens and Neighborhood Watch programs and organizes the annual National Night Out.

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