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Talking Rock Mayor James Bryan, Jr., center, discusses hiring a new city manager with members of the town council. The council also discussed adding a footbridge across Talking Rock Creek in town. From left: Council members Lynda Cagle and Tony Hawf; town attorney Seth Stroud, Bryant, clerk Leah Warlick and former clerk Dawn Carver, and council member Jason Little. Also in attendance council member Caleb Gay, sitting farther to right.

Talking Rock to hire first city manager

The town of Talking Rock is accepting resumes for a city manager, a new position for the town that previously only employed a part-time city clerk. (See ad for position below)

At their regular monthly meeting on Thursday, June 13, members of the Talking Rock City Council unanimously voted to approve the 40-hour-a-week position after Mayor James Bryant Jr. said the responsibilities for the town’s part-time city clerk have outgrown the position. The current city clerk, Leah Warlick, stepped down from the job to spend more time with her family.

“We have confirmed that this responsibility as the town clerk is extremely busy and it has grown over the last couple of years,” Bryant said. “We are growing so substantially it warrants this change. It will be a full 40-hour per week position.”

Bryant said he couldn’t “emphasize enough how many people care about the town of Talking Rock and what a family environment the community” boasts. The mayor said the previous town clerk, Dawn Carver, left the job a while back but kept coming in to assist with the new clerk’s transition. “She keeps showing up to help out. I think she is an absolute rock star.”

The mayor said the position will comprise all types of town administrative work, including grant writing, building permits, and a host of other responsibilities.

“I’m super excited about moving forward with this,” he said.

Council tables decision on wedding venue

Council members tabled a request by Christopher and Whitney Bennett to rezone a five-acre section of their property off Fisher Creek Road from residential agriculture to a commercial limited business district. The change would allow the property to be used as a wedding venue and event center.

Neighbor Marshall Mullins spoke against the zoning change at the public hearing, saying the property already has water runoff issues. Mullins said he and the Bennetts are currently involved in a lawsuit concerning their properties. Former Talking Rock Mayor Cheryl Sams also spoke against the rezoning, citing the size and condition of Fisher Creek Road.

“If you meet another car, it’s hard because one car has to pull over,” Sams said. “The people who will have to deal with this traffic should be made aware of this as well. The people on Fisher Creek don’t have another way to get out. There is only a small section (of that road) that is inside the town limits.”

In tabling the request, Mayor Bryant said he wanted to speak with Pickens County officials as the city must work with the county and not put added pressure on their resources, including, among others, fire services.

“As the mayor, I need some information from the county before this is considered,” Bryant said. “It’s been stated this is a one-lane unimproved road and (you) are trying to establish a commercial business on a one-lane road. I just feel uncomfortable at this point without knowing all the considerations.”

Bryant said that Talking Rock is “in a partnership with the county and this would put pressure on the county for fire services, for instance. The county should be able to support it. Can a fire truck get to that area? As the mayor, I feel uncomfortable to make that decision at this point.”

“We have to get with the county about that road in general and we’ve got to talk to them and let them know what’s happening.”

Council members agreed and the request was tabled.

“Myself and the council want to do the right thing,” Bryant said. “We don’t want to approve of anything without all the information. We want to do what’s best for everybody.”

The mayor said he would speak to Commission Chair Kris Stancil and bring back information from the county to the council at the July meeting. 

In other news:

*The council approved a motion to install a footbridge across Talking Rock Creek linking the Blackwater Station area to the town’s main downtown.

“I just think that’s the next thing that Talking Rock needs,” said Council member Tony Hawf. “A bridge to stand on, walk over or just stare down into the water. It will keep people from walking in the street.”

Talking Rock hopes to utilize a Local Maintenance Infrastructure Grant (LMIG) for some of the funding.

*The council gave the go-ahead for an alcohol license for Box Car Grill, a new restaurant that has leased out the town’s box car. The manager, Tony Hawf, is a city councilman.

“It’s sat there for like three years now and Tony and his family have decided to turn that into a restaurant,” the mayor said. “It should go into operation within the next 30-45 days.”

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