08/13/12 — Fremont mayor says town needs to look to its future

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Fremont mayor says town needs to look to its future

By Aaron Moore
Published in News on August 13, 2012 1:46 PM

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Fremont Mayor Darron Flowers hopes to use his experience as a school administrator to lead the town in a promising direction. Flowers is from Fremont and has been the town's mayor for a month.

FREMONT -- Mayor Darron Flowers knew when he took office in June that challenges loomed ahead for the Daffodil Town, but having a good attitude makes all the difference in success or failure, he said.

Flowers said that since taking office, he already has noticed that town residents have shown themselves eager to see the town grow and improve.

"I've been real pleased with it," Flowers said. "We've got six aldermen that are really interested in improving the town, I think. I would say overall everyone's interested in working with each other. That doesn't necessarily mean there's going to be a unanimous vote on everything. Everyone can agree to disagree."

Having grown up in Fremont and having worked in Fremont's schools, as well as in the town administration, Flowers said he's in a good position to know the town's needs.

Flowers started as a teacher in Lenoir County after graduating from East Carolina University. He then became a principal in Edgecombe County and moved back to Fremont in 1966 to become Fremont Schools' superintendent, before it merged with the Wayne County Schools.

After retiring, Flowers worked on the town Planning Board and other town committees. He is also involved with Home Lodge, the Rotary Club, Fremont United Methodist Church and other civic groups.

Having been a part of Fremont for so long, Flowers said he can empathize with those who want to restore the town to its "good old days" when there were enough businesses that people rarely needed to leave.

"I can relate to anything and everything they've said," Flowers said.

Before people jump in their vehicles and drive to Goldsboro or Wilson to shop or conduct business, Flowers said they shouldn't take for granted what Fremont has to offer.

"We overlook how blessed we are now. We have a lot of things that we take for granted when we put our wish list out," he said.

Among those are a doctor's office, a dentist's office, a furniture store, a grocery store and a library. There is also a new antique business opening between the town's pharmacy and Nationwide.

One thing Flowers said the town can do to attract more businesses and newcomers is spruce up home and business fronts so they can take more pride in the town's appearance.

There was a time, he said, when people from out of town would take Sunday rides to Fremont just to admire the town's homes and gardens.

"I think there was much more pride by the citizens of Fremont in the not too distant past than there is now," Flowers said. "We need to have a community that people want to move into. When we have that, the other things will come."

Since Flowers took office, the town has started working with the state's Small Town Economic Prosperity program, which will help residents develop an economic plan for the town and apply for grants to make it happen.

"I think it's an ideal program to come into with a new mayor. We have a strong foundation."

But some of the bigger challenges facing Fremont leaders are the town's infrastructure needs, which could take years to fully improve.

"The challenges are economic," Flowers said. "Everybody knows we have electrical rate problems. We have some issues with sewer. We have aged water lines that we need to replace. We definitely need to pave some streets. We made strides far, but we still have not arrived."

He said he plans to combat those challenges by continuing to apply for grants, such as the $750,000 federal grant the town is pursuing to fix its water lines.

One thing Flowers said he likes about the job of mayor is being able to see the problems from within.

"Instead of complaining and griping, you get an insight as to what the challenges are," he said.

And seeing the challenges, Flowers said it's important to keep looking at what Fremont can become instead of what it was.

"We should enjoy the past," he said. "We should build on the past. But we should look to the future, and we should certainly have a tremendous amount of pride."