by David Anderson
The Kinston City Council chambers were packed with a standing-room only crowd Monday evening. This time, though, it was not filled with residents angry over crime or electric bills, but rather a happy crowd gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of two departing council members and the Kinston High School football team.
Alice Tingle, who spent 12 years on the council, and Will Barker, who had been in his seat for nearly five years, announced earlier this year they would not seek re-election.
“I truly feel we’re leaving a good foundation for the new City Council people coming on,” Tingle said.
Barker, who said it would be fun “going back to being a dad and a husband,” encouraged the audience to take an interest in public service and get involved “if you want to affect change.”
“Step up and make the decisions,” he said. “It’s easy to armchair quarterback; be part of the solution.”
Barker and Tingle’s seats are now occupied by the newest council members, Kelly Jarman and Sammy C. Aiken, who were elected this year and were sworn in Monday — their friends and family members also helped fill council chambers.
Jarman said she wanted to “work with all the City Council members so we can get things done.”
Aiken added, “We’re looking forward to doing great things for Kinston.”
Mayor B.J. Murphy presented plaques to the departing council members for their service, and he announced Councilman Joe Tyson — who was re-elected this year — would be elevated to mayor pro tem.
The mayor pro tem is a council member who serves in the mayor’s place if he or she cannot be present.
Tyson was sworn in Monday by Lenoir County Clerk of Courts Dawn Stroud, who also swore in Aiken and Jarman.
“I appreciate the opportunity to serve you once again, and I’m here just to be your servant,” Tyson told the audience.
He and Tingle came on the council around the same time during the late 1990s, and Tyson gave her some kind departing words.
“It has been a pleasure working with you, to see your passion for the city of Kinston,” he told her.
They’re still winners
Even though they ultimately lost the state championship last week, the players and coaches of the Kinston High School football team were treated like heroes by the Kinston mayor and city council on Monday.
The Vikings battled the West Stokes High School Wildcats for the state’s 2AA title, but the Wildcats ultimately prevailed with a 21-14 victory at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh Saturday.
Kinston High made its first appearance in a state football championship game and finished the 2011 season with a 13-2 record — and the city leaders went all out to honor the team Monday.
Murphy and Councilman Robbie Swinson, who are Kinston High graduates, personally congratulated head coach Nick Anderson and his players and presented them with a banner proclaiming the team as 2AA state runners-up.
Anderson thanked the community for its support, and encouraged residents to continue to attend Friday night games.
“We’ve made history, and we’ve still got some history to make, so make sure you come and support the Vikings on Friday nights,” he said.
After the meeting, the team and city leaders gathered for a reception.
David Anderson can be reached at 252-559-1077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.