08/12/04 — Seven Springs mayor stuns board by resigning

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Seven Springs mayor stuns board by resigning

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on August 12, 2004 2:00 PM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- Jewel Kilpatrick, who led the town to recovery from a debilitating flood, has resigned as mayor of Seven Springs.

The resignation will be effective at midnight today, but the town board doesn't want to accept it.

She cited lack of interest among residents and town officials, and also health problems.

The resignation came as a shock to most town board members Wednesday night when Mrs. Kilpatrick read her letter of resignation, adjourned the meeting and left Town Hall.

Jewel Kilpatrick

Jewel Kilpatrick

Mrs. Kilpatrick started in town government as a town commissioner for two years. She then became mayor, serving for seven years.

During her tenure, the town has recovered from the flood of 1999, undergone a beautification campaign, and gained a community park and a sewer system.

The town has recently purchased the former Seven Springs Baptist Church in the village for a new Town Hall. She supported the library in getting back on its feet after the flood and helped the Seven Springs Historical Commission create a new museum.

She unsuccessfully fought to get the CSS Neuse, which is on display in Kinston, back to the village and to get the Army Corps of Engineers to build a dike to protect the town from flooding. She helped get grants and money flowing back into the town.

She helped the town revise its ordinances and brought community service workers to landscape the town grounds. She even gained certification and jumped on a tractor and sprayed the town for mosquitoes.

"My time as mayor has been difficult at best," she said in the letter. "... To my dismay, I have found that nearly every idea that I have shared with the citizens and commissioners have been met with incredible resistance. ... I no longer feel that it is worth my health or happiness to continue fighting these endless battles.

"I feel that it has been an uphill battle to accomplish anything, and it never seemed that a single idea had the full support of the commissioners or residents."

Earlier in the day, she had told the News-Argus she hated to resign.

"It's hard to talk about," she said. "I've been talked about, and I've made enemies, and all I tried to do was make Seven Springs a better place to live. I'm almost 72 years old, and I'm tired. ... I've been sick almost a year. I know it's the stress."

On Wednesday night after hearing the mayor's statement, the town board members looked at each other in silence for several minutes.

"Did any of y'all know that was coming?" asked Danny Carter, the newest town commissioner. He said that if the board accepts Mrs. Kilpatrick's resignation, it would be a great loss to the town, a loss from which the town wouldn't recover.

Commissioner Lib Quinn said Mrs. Kilpatrick had told her she planned to resign. Ms. Quinn said she talked to the mayor "till I was blue."

"Well, talk to her till you're purple," said Carter.

"We're dumbfounded," said Mrs. Quinn.

"Let's just don't accept it," said Carter.

"I told her I wouldn't accept it," said Mrs. Quinn. "I want to give her a leave of absence."

"There's harder times she's gone through," said Carter.

Mayor Pro Tem Emma Ward said she doesn't want the job. She has too many other commitments, she said.

The town clerk was asked by the board to contact the N.C. League of Municipalities to find out if the town board could refuse to accept the resignation.