WEST JEFFERSON — Much changed during the course of the West Jefferson Board of Aldermen’s Monday, Dec. 3 meeting in West Jefferson Town Hall.
First at the meeting were the final moments of Dale Baldwin’s time as mayor of West Jefferson. Baldwin’s tenure as an elected official began in 1967, serving as a town alderman until 1977, and again from 1985-1989. Eight years later, he became mayor, serving until 2007, and again since 2011. He announced in July he would not seek another term.
“I’d like to take a moment and give my heartfelt thanks to the citizens of West Jefferson for giving me the opportunity to serve for 32 years,” Baldwin said. “That seems like a long time, but it flies by in a hurry.”
Alderman Calvin Green told the story about when Baldwin asked him to be chief of the West Jefferson Volunteer Fire Department. Green said he thought he was too young for the role at the time, but Baldwin showed enough confidence in him to take the position which Green then held for 18 years.
Baldwin was given a plaque commemorating his time in office, as was Alderman Jerry McMillan, who decided not to run again.
It was then time for the newest members of West Jefferson’s government to be sworn in. Ashe County Clerk of Superior Court Pam Barlow was on-hand for the ceremony, with Baldwin joking she was also there to swear him out. First up was Tom Hartman, being sworn in as Mayor of West Jefferson.
He was followed by Alderman Rusty Barr, who kept the seat he was appointed to after the death of Brett Summey in May. The final ceremony was for Alderwoman Crystal Miller, who becomes the first woman on the board in the town’s history.
After they were sworn in, Hartman, Miller and Barr took their seats alongside Green and Alderman John Reeves. Alderman Stephen Shoemaker was not in attendance.
Hartman took a moment to thank Baldwin for his years of service, promising him he would carry on Baldwin’s work for the better of the town. Miller echoed Hartman’s sentiments and said she was excited to be part of the town’s future. Barr started by thanking the voters who helped him keep his seat on the board, and spoke about his excitement in working with the rest of the board.
The board then voted to name Reeves mayor pro tempore, essentially a backup mayor in the case of the mayor’s absence. Reeves has served in the role since May.
They also decided to name Hartman to the Fire Department Relief Board of Trustees and as the High Country Council of Governments Representative. Both roles were previously held by Baldwin.
The next meeting of the West Jefferson Board of Aldermen will be Monday, Jan. 6, 2020.