All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again; however, the Summerfield Town Council is trying to do something a little similar: Very quickly assemble an entirely new town staff in a matter of days – because every member of the town staff gave their two weeks’ notice, well, just about two weeks ago.

After the Summerfield Town Council decided earlier this year not to renew the contract of 12-year Town Manager Scott Whitaker – and originally didn’t offer him severance pay or insurance benefits after his contract ends – an extremely loyal town staff of about 10 people decided to exit simultaneously with Whitaker.

That left the town of 11,000 with the prospect of having no staff at all after mid-June.

Whitaker’s last day on the job is Monday, June 10, so that doesn’t give the Town Council much time to rebuild a town administration.

And there seems to be quite a bit of chaos in the process. On Monday, June 3, the town called two special meetings of the Town Council to be held at the Summerfield Town Hall: One for Tuesday, June 4 at 6:30 p.m. and another to be held on Thursday, June 6, also at 6:30 p.m.

However, on Tuesday morning, the town sent out the following announcement, “As a follow-up to yesterday’s notice, Council’s special called meeting today at 6:30 p.m. has been cancelled. The special called meeting on Thursday, 6/6, at 6:30 p.m. at town hall is still planned as advertised.”

At the June 6 meeting, the Town Council is expected to immediately go into closed session to conduct business – which no doubt involves picking someone who can fill in as manager after Whitaker leaves.

 The council is required by law, like other government bodies in North Carolina, to state their reason or reasons for going into closed session.

The two reasons given by the Summerfield Town Council are as follows:

(1) Establish, or to instruct the public body’s staff or negotiating agents concerning the position to be taken by or on behalf of the public body in negotiating…the amount of compensation and other material terms of an employment contract or proposed employment contract as provided under [North Carolina General Statutes].

(2) Consider the qualifications, competence, performance, character, fitness, conditions of appointment, or conditions of initial employment of an individual employee as provided under [North Carolina General Statutes].

It would be a very speedy process to go ahead and pick a full-time manager right now and some long-time town residents said this week they believe the council will just name an interim manager – someone who knows the town well and perhaps has served in a town oversight capacity before.  A full search for a permanent manager could be held later.

Summerfield may already be starting to experience the effects of the loss of staff that includes the Parks and Recreation director. The first official town event that was scheduled to occur after the departure of town staff has already been cancelled. A “Children’s Fishing Derby” was planned to take place on Saturday, June 15, at the Sportsman Wildlife Club, however, that event has now been cancelled.

The town also must adopt a town budget by July 1, and the town manager plays an integral part of that process, or at least does in most years.