Council getting closer to filling vacant seat
SPRUCE PINE – Retired teachers, business owners, former council members and a photographer are some of the 10 people who applied to fill a seat on Spruce Pine Town council that has been vacant since this past December.
One of the applicants, probation officer John Boone, lost his seat in a three-person race for two seats in the November 2015 election after spending more than eight years on council.
Council tried previously to appoint Boone to the seat, which was left vacant after Darla Harding was elected mayor. The appointment failed, deadlocking in a 2-2 tie with councilmen Rocky Buchanan and Larry McKinney voting “no” while Harding and newcomer James Acuff voted “yes.”
Council has since not attempted to appoint anyone to the seat, instead deciding to request applications at Harding’s suggestion.
Harding said each council member will review the applications.
“I guess we’ll all have to write down our top picks and see where we are,” she said. “Somehow, we got to narrow (the list) down.”
Council will likely discuss how to move forward with the process Monday during its regular meeting.
Interviewing candidates is a possibility, too, Harding said.
The other applicants are:
Gregg Henline, co-owner, along with his wife, Lisa, of Southwest Trading Co. He previously served for 14 years on town council and has been a member of the town’s Main Street board.
Sandra Glenn Blankenbaker is a retired nurse who has volunteered with Spruce Pine Main Street for several years.
Ron Royer served on the Blue Ridge Hospital Foundation Board and is active in the Kiwanis Club. He is retired and has lived in Spruce Pine for six years.
John Pendley Jr. is owner of Pendley Cabinet Company. He has served on the town’s zoning board of adjustment for 15 years. Pendley and his wife, Martha, have had their businesses in downtown for decades.
Halley Burleson is a photographer and owner of Appalachian Exposures. She previously worked for Unimin and has a background in marketing and tourism.
Charles P. Duncan is retired and has served on the town’s zoning board of adjustment. He also served as chairman of the recreation committee during the formation of Brad Ragan Park.
Thomas “Eddie” Bell is retired from the county school system. He also served as Spruce Pine’s fire chief from 1990-2000 and again from 2011-2015.
Jacqueline Rensink is retired from the Mitchell School System and is a volunteer with Spruce Pine Main Street.
One applicant, Jason Kritz, provided a home address outside the town limits and therefore cannot be considered.
Harding said she’s happy the council has been able to make some progress toward filling the vacancy after months of inaction.
“This is huge to get this far on it,” she said.