Defeated Bluffton Town Council members Fred Hamilton and Allyne Mitchell were thanked for their service at their last council meeting on Tuesday night as two newly elected council members prepare to take their seats.
Challengers Ted Huffman and Karen Lavery ousted Hamilton and Mitchell in the November elections and will be sworn in at the Jan. 10 meeting to four-year terms. Bluffton council seats are at-large.
Mayor Lisa Sulka, who ran unopposed in November and will also begin a four-year term in January, presented Hamilton and Mitchell with plaques commending them for their leadership.
Hamilton has been a town council member for six years and currently serves as mayor pro-tem. He is chairman of the town's Affordable Housing Committee which steered the project that will bring six affordable cottages to old town -- a project opposed by Lavery and Huffman.
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Mitchell was a member of the town's Planning Commission before being elected to council in 2008. She said she will still be a common sight at Town Hall "making sure that everything is running correctly and that everyone is included."
In light of council's new makeup, members discussed dates in February and in March for a retreat in order to update its priorities .
The town created a strategic plan in 2010 at a weekend-long, goal-setting retreat at Palmetto Bluff and made improving the water quality of the May River the top priority.
In April 2011, council members met to update the plan and list projects to be completed over the next year.
Lavery said a new focus for the town will emerge at the upcoming retreat, to be held at the Bluffton Police Department's law enforcement center and led by a consultant.
"I'm sure there will be a new direction, although I'm not sure what," Lavery said. "That's when we'll toss around ideas and goals."
Follow reporter Allison Stice at twitter.com/BlufftonBlogIP.