Resident, mayor face off in Bladenboro

By: W. Curt Vincent - Bladen Journal

BLADENBORO — Dawson Singletary, a resident of Richardson Road, came before the Bladenboro Town Board on Monday to speak with commissioners about drainage problems in the Big Swamp area, but it was his insistence for a closed session that got him shut down quickly — but not before he called for Mayor Rufus Duckworth to resign.

During the open forum portion of the meeting, Singletary told the board, in essence, he thinks the people of Bladenboro have been sold a bill of goods by the state’s Corps of Engineers concerning the clean-out of drainage areas on the outskirts of the town.

“I’m just trying to keep Bladenboro from flooding,” he said. “We’ve been told everything is OK, but there is something definitely wrong. Somewhere there are some lies.”

The board listened and thanked Singletary for the information, then moved on.

But Singletary was on the agenda with an item titled “Inaction of Board,” and when his time came, Singletary started with a question from his seat.

“Are we going into executive session?” he asked. “That was the agreement.”

Duckworth denied the request and immediately fired back.

“Mr. Singletary, first let me say that I respect you as I do anyone that wishes to come before this board,” he opened. “I have sat in this room, both up here and out there, and heard you come before this board and the previous board more times than I can count and talk about the canal, the slip and dip, your feelings toward different groups of people, as well as certain individuals, and what you say is and what isn’t going to happen.

“Your request tonight states you wish to speak to us about ‘inactionj of this board,” Duckworth continued. “I ask you to tell us what inaction you are talking about. We do not care about how you feel about certain individuals that you have spoken about in the past, the slip and dip, or what you say happened in the past — your request is about our inaction, so I ask that you only speak about what you consider to be this board’s inaction.

“In plain, simple terms, what is it that you have asked this board that you feel we haven’t given you,” he concluded. “That being said, I ask with respect that you stay on that subject only.”

Singletary stood, went to the podium and told the board he’s asked the board to look into the “fraudulent” dealings between the previous board and the Bryant Swamp Flood Control Corp.

“This board has, to my knowledge, taken no action,” Singletary said. “I think, at this point Mr. Duckworth, you should resign.”

With that, the issue came to an end.

In other action Monday, the board:

— Heard discussion concerning a change in the town’s minimum education requirements for employment, which currently states an individual must have a high school diploma or GED. Commissioners Sarah Benson and Billy Ray Benson each shared they thought it was a good idea to change the requirement to include a stipulation that a potential employee be able to receive a diploma or GED within a certain period of time after employment.

A motion not to change the requirement failed 3-2, and an alternative motion to allow six months after employment to receive a diploma or GED — and hold a public hearing in September on the change — passed 4-1.

— Approved a declaration of surplus property for sale, including a tractor and generator.

— Approved the purchase of a tractor from K.L. Priest of Clarkton for $19,000. After making a budget amendment, payment would be split between the general fund and utilities fund.

— Voted to place “In God We Trust” on the town’s police cars at a cost of $50.

— Approved painting the parking lines in the downtown area along West Seaboard Street.

— Approved the one-time donation of $1,000 to the Bladenboro Historical Society to assist in the 100-year anniversary celebration.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-862-4163 or

W. Curt Vincent

Bladen Journal