ALBANY – It's off to work for the town's new mayor, who had a full slate of projects awaiting after her inauguration ceremony Jan. 3.
The final stage of recovery from the August 2016 flood, as well as ongoing work on the town's sewer system, will top the agenda for Eileen Bates-McCarroll, who took the oath of office in a ceremony on a rainy night at the Albany Multipurpose Center.
Completion of the town hall is paramount to the city, according to McCarroll.
“The building is supposed to be completed by May, and we have another nine months to get the sewage pond up and running, and we’re waiting on some FEMA money to do that,” McCarroll said.
The inauguration fulfilled a longtime goal for McCarroll, whose resume included 15 years in state government, 18 years with the 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office and a stint as Albany town clerk in the early 1980s under then-Mayor George Stewart.
“I said in the campaign I wanted to run for this office six years ago and didn’t do it when I retired from the pardon board,” she said. “But it feels comfortable to me that I’m here, and I’m excited about the future.”
In her first speech as mayor, she paid homage to her predecessors who have served since the town’s incorporation in 1953 when Grady Stewart took office. The support and advice of the citizens, business owners, council members and town employees will play a role in the town’s success future, she said.
“I am one but many who have great visions for the town,” McCarroll said. “As we all know, the mayor is only one in the cast of many.”
She envisioned a conversation with the first mayor.
“I’m sure if I could sit down and have a cup of coffee with Mr. Grady, I’d see that he and I have the same visions -continued growth, continued safety for our families and improved infrastructure,” McCarroll said. “So much has changed and grown, yet so much has remained the same.
“Albany is our home – it is where our history has come from and where our future lies, and it is our job to take care of our memories, as well as our vision, just as Mr. Grady Stewart did so many years ago,” she said. “It won’t be easy, but I accept the challenge and I look forward to serving as your mayor.”
McCarroll defeated incumbent Gene Glascock and Richard Herring in the Nov. 6 primary election. Glascock, who served four years as mayor and 16 years on the council, embraced his successor after he presented her the gavel as a customary passing of the torch.
Glascock and McCarroll worked closely during the transition. He said he would continue working with the town.
“I may join the coffee group, but I’ll still be active in public affairs,” he said. “She said she has my number on her speed dial, so I guess that means she may call with questions from time to time.”
The ceremony also featured the inauguration for incumbent council members Jerry Glascock, Lloyd Martin, Kim Stewart and Gerald Stilley, along with first-term councilman Ronnie Gregoire, who previously served as assistant police chief.
Another highlight of the evening included the oath for Police Chief Russell Hutchinson, whose 40 years in office now ranks as the longest of any current holder of that office in the state.
Hutchinson took the office when he was the sole member of the police department. The ceremony for his 11th and final term also included the oath for six members of the department – Assistant Police Chief Boyd Wild, along with officers Chad Fletcher, Ben Martin, Larry McMurray, Cody Reine and Melinda Zalfon.
Albany Fire Chief Joe Foster also took the oath during the ceremony.