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Carpenter sworn in as Richmond Hill mayor

Russ Carpenter acknowledged the past and embraced the future during his remarks at Tuesday’s city council meeting after being sworn in as Richmond Hill’s seventh mayor.

“Richmond Hill is an exceptional town that is rich in history and aesthetically beautiful,” he said. “But it is also ripe with opportunity. We can’t rest on our laurels and we must manage the phenomenal growth we are experiencing.”

Carpenter said the city must work to move from a residential to a commercial tax base while helping existing companies expand and encouraging people to eat and shop locally.

Carpenter also said he wants the city to be “open and fair partners” with Bryan County, Pembroke and the Bryan County Schools Board of Education.

He was sworn in by Congressman Buddy Carter, as were incumbent Councilman Johnny Murphy and newcomer Tara Baraniak. The council also voted unanimously to elect Murphy as mayor pro tem, a position Carpenter held during his eight years as councilman.

Outgoing Mayor Harold Fowler, who could not run again due to term limits, presented Carpenter with a gavel that had been used by his father, Bobby Carpenter, in the early 1960s when he led the Jaycees. Fowler said that organization “was instrumental to the incorporation of Richmond Hill.”

Tuesday’s meeting, attended by well over 100 people, was held at the Richmond Hill City Center to accommodate the crowd. The council’s next meeting is 7:30 p.m. Jan. 16 at city hall.

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