The Town Council was to be departing for the coast for its summer retreat in Wilmington where plans are to discuss the town manager opening.
Although Mayor James Roberson said the town has been planning the retreat for months, it didn’t make those plans public until Tuesday, July 19, two days before the retreat is to begin.
“We had been going back and forth making sure everyone is able to attend,” Mayor James Roberson said, “so we just finalized that this week.” Roberson said the dates weren’t set until about a week before the retreat.
He said he expected all the council members at the retreat.
Roberson said he selected Wilmington as the location. “It was just the closest place that came to mind without having to drive three hours,” he said.
The main topic will be replacing former Town Manager Seth Lawless, who resigned suddenly in June, shortly after returning from a forced health leave. Roberson said the council will also hear presentations from department heads and discuss prioritizing future projects.
The retreat was scheduled for the Courtyard by Marriott, 299 N. Second St., in Wilmington’s historic downtown with meetings to begin at 4 p.m. Thursday and 9:30 a.m. Friday.
Lawless went on temporary health leave in early February and was out until late April. He had been back on the job for a little over a month when he tendered his resignation letter to Roberson at the June 6 Town Council meeting.
The council earlier this month approved a severance package worth more than $114,000 for Lawless, who had served as assistant town manager since 2006 before being appointed town manager in 2010. The package included Lawless’ salary for 9.5 months and assistance with his COBRA health insurance.
Hal Mason, a Garner retiree with decades of experience in municipal governments in North and South Carolina who served as acting town manager for part of the time Lawless was on leave, has taken on the role of interim manager as the town searches for a permanent replacement in the post. Mason was hired to work about 10 hours a week at $40 an hour.