Secretary in Reorganization
SC Online Content Editor
Ten days after voters in Fenwick Island elected three new council members, the town has a new council president.
Peter Frederick, who was initially appointed to fill the remainder of a term vacated by Chris Clark's resignation two years ago, replaces former council president Peg Baunchalk. Baunchalk did not seek re-election after a decade as council president.
Clark, meanwhile, joined Audrey Serio and Martha Keller as new council members, as the three were sworn in on Tuesday, Aug. 12 along with incumbent Theo Brans. Brans was the top vote-getter of the eight candidates in the Aug. 2 election, with 355 votes.
Brans nominated Frederick for the position of council president, and the other council member unanimously approved the appointment. There were no other nominations.
Not all the council members, however, appeared convinced that Frederick is the best choice to lead the town out of a period marked by financial mismanagement, personnel problems and strained relations between some residents and town officials.
Council member Vicki Carmean said before the vote on Frederick's appointment that there has been "a great deal of acrimony between the council and the town," in the past year.
Carmean said that although "I don't want this to come across as a personal attack," she felt Frederick was responsible for at least some of the bad blood between residents and the council. She said letters Frederick read into the record at several meetings "led to bitterness" on the part of some residents.
She also blamed the council as a whole for its handling of the crises that have rocked the town in recent months. "A lot of the discord came directly from the council in the way they responded to questions," from residents, Carmean said.
Carmean said she hopes relations will improve. "I think we need to come together and heal," she said.
Moments later, Frederick nominated Carmean for the post of council secretary, and the council unanimously approved her appointment.
The council was divided, however, on the appointment of the town's treasurer. Keller nominated Harry Haon, and Clark nominated himself for the post. Clark cited his experience with accounting software in his business as a boon to the town as it begins to modernize its financial management with similar software.
"We do need change," Serio said. "I'd like to see someone that knows computer software," take the treasurer's position.
But Frederick and Brans said they felt Haon, who sheperded the town through its first budget approval since a major overhaul in the way its finances are handled, would bring consistency to the job.
"We all recognize we had problems," Frederick said, adding "we all recognize we have solved the problems, or that we have turned the corner. He said he is satisfied with Haon's work on the budget, and that "if it's not broke, don't fix it."
Brans said, "Change is all right, as long as it's not change for the sake of change. To make a change now, I don't think is in the best interest of Fenwick Island." Haon was approved as treasurer 4-3.
Minutes after he was named council president, Frederick directed the other council members to review a list of potential committee assignments and decide by the council's Aug. 22 meeting where they would like to serve.
He suggested adding new committees -- one for beautification, one for community outreach and one for a planning commissioner -- and asked the council to let him know of any others they would like to see added.
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