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Hope Mills board scheduled to discuss town historian


Editor's note: This story was updated to clarify that the board approved a letter recognizing town historian Pat Hall, not a proclamation.

HOPE MILLS - The Hope Mills Board of Commissioners on Monday is scheduled to revisit a letter it approved at the last board meeting regarding town historian Pat Hall.

The board meets at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

Commissioner Joanne Scarola asked that the “retirement of Pat Hall’’ be discussed by the board.

The board at its Feb. 7 meeting approved a letter awarding Hall the title of historian emeritus. The item, which was presented by Mayor Jackie Warner, was not listed on the meeting agenda.

Scarola said she and some other commissioners thought Hall was still serving as town historian when the letter was approved. She said it was not her intention to retire Hall.

Scarola said the letter and explanation were done just prior to official business with little notification. 

“When we received the letter, the mayor had placed copies of the proclamation on our desk just prior to the meeting, so we didn’t get a chance to look it over,” Scarola said.

Scarola said she thought it honored Hall for her prior service, something everyone would generally agree upon. 

“After the meeting, I received numerous emails and phone calls of concerned citizens reminding me that the town just fired the historian,” Scarola said.  

Warner said Hall has not retired and was not fired.

"As far as historian, she has not been retired,’’ Warner said. “I gave her the title of emeritus so that she can maintain the title, and if we do anything else with that position, we have some criteria. And the main thing was to make her an honorary member of the Historic (Preservation) Committee.’’  

Scarola said she wants to revisit the issue for clarification.

“I want to bring back this discussion to see if this is what we intended to do. Because I didn’t intend to retire her,” Scarola said. “From what I’m tracking that wasn’t anyone else’s intentions either.’’ 

“If that was the mayor's intention to retire her, we need to make sure that’s known,’’ Scarola said. “Because that was not our intention. We’ll bring it up and if we vote to resend it, we’ll go forward with that.”  

Warner said the letter was meant to honor Hall. “That was the extent of it,’’ she said.

“I don’t believe the word emeritus was fully understood by our board members,’’ Warner said.

Hall was appointed town historian by Warner in 2016 shortly after the death of former Mayor Eddie Dees, Warner said.

Dees had served as the Hope Mills historian for many years. Warner said she wanted the position to continue and she asked Hall to take on the role because she had been involved in historic preservation. At present, it is an unofficial role, Warner said.

"Pat Hall use to be the chairperson of the historic committee and a very active member until the last four years,’’ Warner said. “She resigned from the committee and has not been very involved in maintaining historical records."

In other business, the board is expected to accept annexation petitions for Camden Commons and Camden Preserve, both of which are contiguous annexations.  

It also is expected to hear updates on the Public Safety Building and the Johnson Street projects.

VFW Post 10630 plans to recognize Officer William Cannon as Law Enforcement Public Servant Officer of the year for 2021. 

And the mayor and the Hope Mills Historic Preservation Committee are expected to recognize the family of Samuel Jasper Hodges for their notable contributions to the town.

According to the proclamation to be considered Monday, Samuel Hodges was one of the first major Black landowners in Cumberland County. He devoted land for the first Black school in Rockfish township and for Mars Hill Presbyterian Church. The descendants of Samuel and Fannie B. Hodges have positively impacted the history of the Hope Mills community, the proclamation states. 

Jason Canady covers Hope Mills for CityViewTODAY. He can be reached at jcanady@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Hope Mills, Board of Commissioners, historian, Pat Hall