COLONY — Citing “overwhelming circumstances” in his personal life, Colony councilman Eric Carwell resigned from his post Tuesday night.
Carwell, one of the two younger members of the council elected last August, said he’d done a lot of soul searching, but decided he needed to resign. He made his announcement early in the town’s regular meeting Tuesday night.
“I wish the town of Colony great success and I thank you for allowing me the opportunity to represent you as a council member of this town,” he said.
Towards the end of the meeting, during public comments, resident and interim clerk Gwendolyn Purifoy thanked Carwell for his service.
“We regret whatever circumstances are that caused you to resign from your position,” she said. “I think you were doing a very good job with the best interest of the community and town at heart.”
Council member Mary Louise Parker seconded Purifoy’s remarks.
Mayor Curtis Johnson said the town will send out notices of the vacancy inviting residents to apply for the post and the town council will vote on his replacement.
With Carwell no longer a voting member, the council voted 3-2 vote to reconsider the April 27 vote to terminate clerk Pat Ponder “without prejudice.” It was that phrase that apparently triggered the reversal.
Council members questioned council member Ethel Alexander on why she made the motion to terminate Ponder and what she meant by “without prejudice.”
Alexander said Johnson had made clear - through statements and memos - his desire to remove Ponder from her position and hire someone else.
“There were a lot of things,” said Alexander. “She’s been sitting at these meetings for several meetings where people in the audience have been basically degrading her as far as her job. . . I felt like it was enough.”
She said the council apparently agreed. “I didn’t do it by myself. I put the motion in and this council agreed to it.”
Johnson acknowledged that he’d wanted to get rid of Ponder, and had a candidate he wanted to hire. However, he said, that person has since found another job.
“The point is, we want to know why you made the motion to terminate her without prejudice,” he said. “What does that mean?”
“Just without prejudice, that’s what it means,” said Alexander.
The vote to reconsider the April 27 vote passed with Johnson, Parker and Jazmine Cole voting in favor. Alexander and Councilman Samuel Ashford voted against.
After the meeting, Johnson clarified that they were objecting to the term “without prejudice” from the original vote.
The town has since hired two part-time interim clerks, who are working without pay, to keep city hall open until a new clerk can be hired.
Ponder sent an email to the council Tuesday night stating “I insist and demand that the terms of my employment be renegotiated at 9:00 am at town hall Wednesday, May 12, 2021 and that all keys, cell phone and passwords be returned at that time if an agreement is met. A written job description detailing the duties of the town clerk is expected at that time.”
Ponder said an updated and current personnel handbook must be presented “within thirty (30) days to all employees, but no later than June 30, 2021.”
The council also:
Approved hiring a town clerk, supervisory/caretaker to open the Community Center on Sunday afternoons from 2:30-6 p.m. at a salary of $30 per opening.
Approved renting a T3 machine to buff the gym floor and the floors and hallway at the education complex;
Approved a request to replace a broken window at the gym.