Stapleton takes helm

Williston Town Council has a new mayor for the first time in two decades.
Jason Stapleton will lead his first council meeting Monday. Stapleton, 36, was sworn in as mayor Oct. 1 during a small, short ceremony at town hall. He takes over for Tommy Rivers, who led the town for 20 years before deciding not to run for re-election this year.
Stapleton is a life-long resident of Williston and graduated from Williston-Elko High School. He and his wife, Tiffany, have two young sons. He first joined town council in 2011, and before that he spent six years on the school board. He owns Buck's Hardware and Carpet in Barnwell. He owned Buck's Feed and Seed in Williston before selling it.
"I deeply care about the community," Stapleton said.
He said he ran for mayor so he could see good things continue to happen in Williston.
Keeping the town looking nice and building a solid relationship with the business community are both part of Stapleton's vision. He plans to meet with each business owner in town and start a dialogue. He said having a strong relationship with its current businesses will help Williston attract new ones.
He has reached out to the mayors of Barnwell and Blackville and said everyone is "committed to work together" on problems and issues the municipalities share.
Stapleton wants to build a bridge between town hall and the community. He said more interaction between the two will make Williston stronger. He also wants to have more community events so residents can come together more often.
Improving Williston's water infrastructure, a longtime issue for the town, is also on Stapleton's to-do list.
He takes over at a time when the town is as strong financially as it has been in years - it currently has a million-dollar reserve fund. Stapleton said he will continue to be smart with taxpayers' money and keep the town in solid fiscal shape.
He said he's excited to work with the new council. Eric Moody, Dwayne Cagle and Chris Rivers will be sworn in at Monday's meeting, filling the empty council seats left behind by Jerry Holmes, Wanda Matthews and Stapleton. The group held a retreat Saturday to talk about their goals, and Stapleton said there was a lot of enthusiasm. Williston has a weak-mayor council, meaning the mayor has the same voting power as a regular council member.
Stapleton said he is just a "seventh council member with a fancy name."
The town did not hold an election since Stapleton and the other candidates who filed to run for office did not face any opposition. State law allows municipalities to not hold elections under such circumstances, and it is common practice around the state. The new council members will be sworn in at Monday's regular council meeting at 7 p.m.