The city of Dearing has not seen great changes in years past, but 2006 will be different with a new mayor and two new council members being sworn in Monday, Jan. 9.
Retiring Mayor Ralph Menees, who has served as mayor for eight years and on the city council for five years, will be replaced by Sean Kelley. New council members are Fireman Judson Story and McDuffie Mirror Staff Writer Kristopher Wells. An election in September was unnecessary because the mayor elect and each of the council members, including incumbents Daisy Ansley and Allen Axon, ran unopposed.
Mr. Kelley, Mr. Story, and Mr. Wells are all rookies in city politics, but each is looking forward to making a difference.
"There's a lot of stuff I don't know about. ... It's going to be a learning process for all of us. We're all new to it; it's going to be a big learning curve. It'll probably take about a year to get our foot in the door," said Mr. Kelley.
Councilwoman Ansley hopes the new faces will help make a difference for the town.
"I think we're going to have a good crowd in there. I hope we can have some good changes made in Dearing," she said in a previous interview.
Mr. Kelley said the first change he wants to see is the addition of railroad crossing arms on Main Street. A crash between a train and a logging truck two weeks ago confirmed the need for the crossing arms.
Outgoing Mayor Menees said he has been trying to get crossing arms at that railroad crossing.
"I wish him luck," Mr. Menees said. "I've tried for eight years to get those. The railroad and the DOT both agree that the flashing lights and bells are sufficient for that crossing. I've talked with state politicians about it and have not been able to get anything through on it."
Other changes Mr. Kelley hopes to address are slowing down speeding drivers and discouraging littering. Mr. Kelley said people drive too fast through the school zone, including the school buses.
"That's going to be hard to do without police down here, but it's a chronic problem," Mr. Kelley said.
Mr. Menees believes the changes Mr. Kelley will bring for the city will be good.
"I think he's very capable. I have full confidence in him. I think he's going to do a great job for the town," Mr. Menees said.