Caswell Beach mayor stripped of duties

Caswell Beach mayor stripped of duties

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - The Town of Caswell Beach voted unanimously Thursday night to strip Mayor Harry Simmons of his duties and give the Mayor Pro Tem all the powers the mayor previously had.

Some of these tasks include:

  • presiding over meetings
  • signing contracts/resolutions
  • appointing members
  • represent the town at ceremonies

This vote is in connection to the town's involvement with the Brunswick Beach Consortium (BBC), in which Simmons was the leader. The BBC was formed as a way to restore and maintain the beaches for seven coastal towns in Brunswick County.

According to commissioners, Caswell Beach Town Council has been paying about $12,000 a year to the BBC for lobbying efforts.

The board requested Oct. 6 that Simmons provide the town with financial statements from the past several years, but no documents have been received.

Town leaders asked Town Manager Chad Hicks to follow up with Marlowe and Company, the lobbying firm that Simmons told council was lobbying for them. Marlowe and Company told Hicks, however, it terminated the agreement with BBC due to lack of payment in 2012 of $28,000.

According to the resolution, "there is clear reason to believe that the Town has received erroneous information from the Chairman of the BBC (their own mayor) as to the disposition of our funds. Therefore, this council has a fiduciary responsibility to our constituents to end our relationship with the BBC..."

The State Bureau of Investigation confirmed that its financial crimes unit is looking into Simmons at the request of District Attorney Jon David.

Simmons released the following statement in response:

In Spring 1999 the Brunswick Beaches Consortium was created by a group of concerned community leaders including Mayors Joe O'Brien of Caswell Beach, Joan Altman of Long Beach (later Oak Island), Dot Kelly of Yaupon Beach (later Oak Island), Jim Lowell of Holden Beach, Bill Berne of Bald Head Island, Betty Williamson of Ocean Isle Beach and Cherri Cheek of Sunset Beach. The effort was supported by a number of other community leaders, including Brunswick County Commissioners David Sandifer, Leslie Collier, Bill Sue and others. I was appointed by the Town of Caswell Beach as its representative to the Consortium and was instrumental in its development, being elected Chairman by the other representatives on the Board. After I was elected Mayor of Caswell Beach I continued to serve as its representative on the Brunswick Beaches Consortium.

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