LUMBERTON — City voters will decide in January who will replace Leon Maynor and Burnis Wilkins on the Lumberton City Council.
The city is working with the local and state boards of elections for an exact date. City officials expect the one-day special election to cost between $2,000 and $3,000. Only two polling sites will be open for the election, the winners of which will serve out the balance of the current terms.
Maynor died on July 2 after a short illness, and Wilkins is sheriff-elect. Wilkins plans to resign his Precinct 3 seat in August. His term ends in 2021.
“While I am excited to have been elected as sheriff of Robeson County earlier this year, it is with regret that I must step aside from my duties as a Lumberton city councilman representing Precinct 3,” Wilkins said in a statement. “I appreciate the support from my precinct both as a councilman and as the elected sheriff and will continue to serve my community and beyond. I believe I have made huge strides in cleaning up my precinct and being responsive to the communities needs.”
Wilkins includes among his accomplishments eliminating the Roberts Avenue Mobile Home Park, the renovation of Godwin Heights Park, establishing the city’s first “Community Emergency Response Team,” and lowering crime by recruiting more officers to move into the precinct.
Maynor had represented Precinct 7 since 1995, and his term was to have ended in 2019. He was the longest serving councilman at the time of his death.
City officials had talked about holding the election during the Nov. 6 general election, but recently learned the early voting dates would make it difficult to do that. A city ordinance approved by the General Assembly in the early 1980s dictates that vacant council seats be filled by election and not by appointment.
In other business, council members:
— Awarded administrative contracts for two federal grants worth $14.25 million to pay for rehabilitation, demolition and elevation work on more than 100 homes damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Matthew.
— Ratified a resolution of support for the state Department of Transportation’s proposed Exit 19 bridge project. “The exit needs attention. It’s the main entrance to downtown,” Councilman Leroy Rising said.
— Endorsed construction of phase one of the riverwalk project at the Fifth Street bridge at a cost of $179,150. Sen. Danny Britt Jr. was able to get $150,000 for the project included in the state budget. Construction is expected to start next week.
— Accepted an Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant to assist two law enforcement agencies in Robeson County. The $55,111 federal grant will be split between the Lumberton Police Department, which will get $34,953, and the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office, $20,158.
— Authorized $800 in discretionary funds for The Pentecostals of Lumberton to support a back-to-school event and backpacks for children.
— Approved $700 for a Community Day event in Precinct 6.
— Approved $800 for an Eagle Scout project undertaken by Boy Scout Troop 301 at Raymond B. Pennington Athletic Complex.
— Approved $900 for a community concert by the B.B. Thompson Choir.