City manager honored for ‘grace under fire’

City Manager: ‘It was my passion because it was my home’

Preslar to Adams-David: ‘Weather the storm’

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

HAMLET — Outgoing City Manager Marchell Adams-David said former Mayor Abbie Covington taught her how to endure “grace under fire.”

It was a lesson she was able to put to good use.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Councilman Pat Preslar presents to outgoing City Manager a framed photo taken by Jimmy McDonald of a June lightning storm over the Hamlet Depot. The photo was inscribed with the phrase, "Weather the Storm."

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Councilman Pat Preslar presents to outgoing City Manager a framed photo taken by Jimmy McDonald of a June lightning storm over the Hamlet Depot. The photo was inscribed with the phrase, “Weather the Storm.”

The embattled Adams-David, 44, resigned July 21 and later was hired by the city of Raleigh. Her last day of work in Hamlet is Aug. 22 though council members voted to pay her through Aug. 31.

Adams-David is set to begin her new position as assistant city manager for community by the end of the month. In Raleigh, she will oversee police, fire, emergency services, parks, housing and neighborhoods. She’s expected to begin her new job by the end of August.

Adams-David began working with the city as an intern in 1993. She has 20 years, 11 months and 21 days in service with the city of Hamlet.

Prior to the November 2013 election, some on the previous City Council felt Adams-David’s job was in jeopardy. In order to protect her, Adams-David was offered an employment contract that was ultimately voided.

While this was going on, Adams-David was recognized by the Richmond County chapter of the NAACP as Humanitarian of the Year in May.

Through the death of her husband and an extended personal leave of absence, it seemed that Adams-David’s job was never fully secure and, after the election in which voters brought in two new council members, she never seemed to have the confidence of a majority of council members.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Mayor Bill Bayless presents outgoing City Manager Marchell Adams-David with a plaque of appreciation during her last official City Council meeting.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Mayor Bill Bayless presents outgoing City Manager Marchell Adams-David with a plaque of appreciation during her last official City Council meeting.

But all of that was put aside for part of an evening Tuesday night, at least in part, as former mayors Abbie Covington and Jeff Smart, along with Councilman Pat Preslar, couldn’t help but allude to the recent months of turmoil through which Adams-David has worked.

“You’ve done a magnificent job for this city,” Covington said during the public comment portion of the meeting. “We have a great deal to be proud of and we have you to credit. I think you can hold your head up high and know you did your job. I hope you and your family will have a wonderful new life. We will miss you.”

Smart credited Adams-David with bringing $20 million in grants to the city.

“There’s not a person in this room that can’t realize what you’ve brought to this city,” said Smart before a packed chamber room full of Adams-David supporters. “We’ve all had issues with you, including me. Together, as a team, we brought a lot to this city. It’s not all about money but it sure helps a town of 6,000 people.”

“I will never forget you,” Smart said. “It saddens me to see you go. To me, it doesn’t matter what you look like or who you are, it matters what you bring to the table.”

Bert Unger, who served on the council for 16 years, said city residents won’t ever have a true understanding of Adams-David’s impact — ever.

“Whenever … I heard of a problem, I brought it to her, Unger said. “I would find that problem was taken care of within a few days or a week. Never did I have to go back and say to her, you didn’t do that.”

Unger also addressed the city’s future.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Outgoing City Manager Marchell Adams-David is surrounded by family members as Mayor Bill Bayless presents her with a plaque to honor her 20-plus years of service to the city of Hamlet.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Outgoing City Manager Marchell Adams-David is surrounded by family members as Mayor Bill Bayless presents her with a plaque to honor her 20-plus years of service to the city of Hamlet.

“I only hope we can find someone who can take her place, to give us the same commitment and results that she gave us over these many years,” Unger said. “Marchell, I’ll miss you personally. I hate to see you go, but I know you’re going to be a lot better off where you are.”

Councilman Pat Preslar presented Adams-David with a framed photograph of a June lighting storm over the Hamlet Depot captured by Rockingham photographer Jimmy McDonald. It’s entitled, “Weather the Storm.”

Preslar got personal with Adams-David.

“You’re one tough woman,” Preslar said, “spiritually, physically, mentally. I don’t know many people like you … what you’ve tolerated through these years. Of the 12 years you’ve been city manager, I’d say at least eight of them have been full of controversy about something.”

Preslar said that he and Adams-David, through “a lot of conversations, al to of phone calls, a lot of late nights talking … through the loss of our fathers, the birth of our kids and more recently, what you’ve been through … Hamlet’s a better place … because you served here.”

Adams-David read from a prepared statement — in part, likely, to help stem the flow of tears — about her time with the city.

When, she said, “I walked into the city of Hamlet … little did I know my life would never be the same.”

Adams-David credited Covington with teaching her about “grace under fire.”

“Without even knowing it, she showed me that the male sex is not the greater or smarter sex,” Adams-David said, “and that women can hold their own and they are intelligent, dedicated, principled, articulate … when we deliberate from our heart as well as our head. She taught me it’s okay to give respect and demand respect in return. She taught the to never compromise my morals.”

Unger, she said, “showed me public service is not what you do but rather it is who you are.”

Adams-David thanked a host of others who showed her that “living in a small town … doesn’t necessarily mean we have to have small minds. It’s okay to want the very best for little old Hamlet.”

Adams-David referenced battles with a local newspaper without citing a specific instance. She credited Tom MacCallum, former Richmond County Daily Journal reporter , “to be true to oneself” and that “the true story rarely comes out when ink is bought by the barrel.”

At the end of Tuesday’s public meeting, the council appointed City Clerk Tammy Kirkley as interim city manager. Applications for the city manager position are being accepted at City Hall through Sept. 5.

Filed in: Featured News, Latest Headlines, News

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  • Jeanne Holland Newton

    Be blessed, Marchell, with God on your side, you are going to reach heights and fulfill His plan for you, which you’ve only seen a glimmer of so far and will make your home town and cheer leaders proud of you. You’ve left indelible marks on your hometown & all of us who had the opportunity to work with you. Happy your light, courage, wisdom, vision & grace will be shining bright in our capitol city. God speed, special friend… / Jeanne Holland Newton

  • Judy B. Mcneil-Long

    It is my understanding that the majority of these ” 20 million dollar grants are actual loans that are going to have to be repaid. My question is exactly how much is going to have to be repaid by the taxpayers of this city. Question #2 What did the city of Hamlet (the city manager) spend this 20 Million dollars on, because I haven’t seen a lot of new industry or refurbishing? All I see is the same ole same ole with a big price tag!!!!!!!

  • http://peedeepost.com Trucker

    I agree with you Judy. Where did all the money go? From the looks of Hamlet, I too wonder what the 20 million dollars was spent on.

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