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Rockingham Police Chief George Gillenwater addresses the City Council about a grant from the Governor’s Highway Safety Program during the July 9 meeting. Photo by William R. Toler – Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM – The City Council voted Tuesday to accept a $30,000 grant from the Governor’s Highway Safety Program for the Rockingham Police Department.

Police Chief George Gillenwater said the funds would be used to purchase data terminals for five of the department’s vehicles.

The grant was awarded to the department because an officer served as the district liaison for the GHSP.

Most recently, Marcus Ricks, who recently left the RPD to join another department, replacing former Chief Billy Kelly, who served as liaison for several years until his retirement in 2021.

Darius Ellison is the department’s liaison with GHSP, but will not be the district liaison, according to Gillenwater.

Mayor John Hutchionson and City Manager Monty Crump noted that the grants have raised about $250,000 for the department over the past decade, saving city taxpayers the burden of the cost.

Appointments to the Board

Prior to this vote, the council approved the appointment of Bruce Stanback and Brandon Thrower to the Planning and Zoning Committee. They will fill the seats vacated by Brent Neal and Antonio Evans.

At the last two meetings, the Council was unable to appoint new members to the Monument Protection Committee.

In June, the council reappointed Marty Goodman and Randy Warren to the Historic Preservation Committee, but three seats remain open.

Deputy City Manager and City Planner John Massey said the UDO needs a seven-member board but has so far made do with five members because it is difficult to find qualified members.

Brian and Nicole Darling were suggested because they have renovated and sold three historic homes in the city and are currently working on their fourth. However, Brian Darling pointed out that although they spend about half the year here, they still live in Florida.

Last month, the council also appointed Jason Coen to the ABC board to replace Malcolm McLester. Earlier in the year, the board had appointed Councilman Bennett Deane to the position, but that decision was reversed at the next meeting. Greg Leberth, who currently serves on the board, was appointed chair.

Angela Watkins, director of Discovery Place Kids-Rockingham, was also reappointed to the board of the Richmond County Tourism Development Authority.

At the July meeting of the Richmond County Board of Commissioners, Caroline Thomas-Goodwin was appointed ETJ representative and Tim Long was appointed ETJ alternate to the Rockingham Board of Adjustments.

The Council was also introduced to Attorney Brady Herman of the Chapel Hill-based law firm Brough Law Firm.

In June, City Attorney Benny Sharpe resigned after serving in the position for several years since replacing Melanie J. Carroll. Sharpe has practiced law for about 60 years.

Crump said Brough specializes in local government and has represented the city in recent cases, including the sales tax dispute with the county.

Brough attorney TC Morphis has represented the Town of Hamlet for several years.

Local attorney Ray Herndon will also serve as city attorney and assist with land searches and other local matters.