Cameron discusses harassment

The Town of Cameron discussed harassment and discord among board members at its May 23 regular meeting. The discussion began after the public hearing when Kay Kelly read pages of concerns. She read the North Carolina General Statute 168-86 on ethics and education.

“I am extremely upset with actions of the board. You have been elected to support the best interests of the people,” Kelly said about the board making decisions without a full board and without public notice.

The town board had only three members for several months and recently recruited new members for a full board.

General Statute 168-86 directs members to obey laws regarding official actions taken as a board member, to uphold the integrity of the member’s office, to avoid impropriety, to be faithful to duties, and to conduct affairs in an open and public manner.

“We do often find ourselves with discord amongst the staff,” Member Joey Frutchey said. “Most of the time I don’t want to be here because of some strong personalities. I’ve been feeling sort of harassed. I’ve been called by our clerk, crying about being harassed. I come to these meetings walking on eggshells because I don’t know what kind of messages I’ll be sent later.”

In March 2022, Mayor Jim Leiby resigned after what appeared to be harassing emails from Mayor Pro Tempore Ginger Bauerband. At the board’s regular meeting, Leiby shared the emails, showing bright red font in all capitals.

The May 23 harassment discussion was spurred by the resignation of a planning board member that was allegedly told to resign in a text message.

This occurred after Bauerband and town board members Kane Parsons and Michael Williamson attended a planning board meeting. The planning board reviewed changing zoning ordinances to restrict homesites to lots at 2.5 acres. The one planning board member who voted against the 2.5 acres restriction was told to resign.

“It was not retaliation,” Bauerband said.

“I have been living back and forth equally between Sanford and Cameron,” the planning board member who asked not the be named said. “I felt targeted to resign because I was against the two and half-acre lot size and was bullied and yelled at. My residency became a problem only when I disagreed with the lot size.” 

Moore County Board of Elections lists the resigned board member living in Cameron.

“That member brought a lot to the table,” Frutchey said about the resigned planning board member with years of construction experience.

Cameron resident Sylvia Caddell said getting people to serve in the small town was too hard.

Before the town board meeting, the Historic Preservation Committee passed a resolution to propose an ordinance to the town board to preserve Cameron’s historic district.

Cameron discusses harassment again

Historic Cameron Presbyterian Church.

The ordinance created an overlay historic district to protect the town’s heritage by preserving districts, landmarks, elements of its culture, history, architectural history, and prehistory.

The town board passed the ordinance, and the audience of about 30 cheered.

“The history of Cameron kept me coming back a long time, and as a co-owner of historic property, I have plans to renovate,” Nick Levy said.

“Best thing we’ve done in many, many years to protect Cameron,” Sylvia Caddell said.

~Article and photos by Sandhills Sentinel Journalist Stephanie M. Sellers, BS Mass Communications and Journalism and MFA Creative Writing. Contact her at [email protected].

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