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With his son at his side, Carlton Stevens was sworn in Thursday as Wilson’s first black mayor.
“I, Carlton L. Stevens, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States, and the Constitution and laws of North Carolina not inconsistent therewith, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of my office as mayor of the city of Wilson, so help me God,” he recited with retired Judge Albert Thomas Jr.
The auspicious occasion closed the chapter on former Mayor Bruce Rose’s 58 years of service to the city. Officials took the time to honor the 84-year-old’s legacy of leadership, dedication and distinguished service.
“You have been a dynamic leader who has represented Wilson well and represented all of Wilson,” Councilman Logan Liles said. “You’ve put your soul and heart into Wilson.”
Stevens took time to express sincere appreciation for his predecessor.
“To Mayor Rose, thank you so much for your wisdom,” he said. A lot don’t know the conversations he and I have had when everyone was not looking, but from Day One, he has encouraged me and I appreciate his words of wisdom.”
U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield said he’s seen Stevens’ leadership ability from an early age and is proud of the direction he’ll take the city.
“We should all embrace the mayor’s theme of ‘One Wilson’ and work together to make this city the best city in America,” he said.
Bill Myers was among the attendees who packed the Boykin Center for the occasion.
“I’m here to witness history,” he said. “I’m proud of how we’ve grown as a community to be progressive and a leader in this state.”
Councilwoman Gillettia Morgan was sworn in to represent District 1, a post from which longtime Councilman A.P. Coleman retired in May. Councilmen James Johnson and Michael Bell retained their seats in November and were sworn in Thursday for another four years.
“I am glad to be on the job and I’m ready to go to work,” Morgan said.
Prior to the oaths of office, Rose presided over his final council meeting as officials approved an economic development appropriation and land transfer for the redevelopment of Cherry Hotel. City Manager Grant Goings said when some felt the building should be renovated into apartments, the council held fast with the dream of having it turned back into a hotel.
“Council felt a hotel would be a tremendous asset and they stuck through it through many twists and turns,” Goings said. “(The developers) faced many, many challenges, but stuck with us and anytime we hit a hurdle, they found a way to work through it.”
The $19 million project will create 100 guest rooms, a reception area, bar, dining room and kitchen while renovating the two-story ballroom. Officials revealed the hotel is a proposed Courtyard by Marriott.
“Having a planned affiliation with a major brand company should be a positive factor in attracting business and tourist guests to the hotel,” said Paul Drummond, a manager partner for Cherry Hotel.