Surrounded by friends, family and community members, the town of Elon honored Mayor Jerry Tolley and Mayor Pro-tem Davis Montgomery for their service to the town at the Dec. 6 agenda setting session. Emily Sharpe, Stephanie Bourland and Randy Orwig were immediately sworn in as mayor, alderwoman and aldermen, and began discussions about construction at Elon University and the town’s COVID-19 sick leave policies.

Tolley retires after nearly four decades of service to the town of Elon. From his work at Elon University as a football coach to serving as mayor twice, Tolley’s commitment to the town of Elon was recognized this evening through many awards and accolades, including the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. The award is the highest honor one can receive in the State of North Carolina and is bestowed by the governor. Montgomery leaves the board after nearly 16 years of service as both a board member and leader of the Parks and Recreation committee. 

Kyra O'Connor | Elon News Network
Senator Amy Gale presents Mayor Jerry Tolley with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award, North Carolina’s highest honor, on Dec. 6, 2021.

“Before I became an alderman, I would come to the meetings, and Davis — I always enjoyed his poise. I always enjoyed how he thought of things, I really admired that,” Aldermen Quinn Ray said. “And Mayor Tolley, what a commitment … I really appreciate everything he has done for this town.”

Following the presentations of awards for the two leaving members, three new members were sworn in. Sharpe, who previously served as a board member, became the town of Elon’s second female mayor in the town’s history. 

Kyra O'Connor | Elon News Network
Mayor-elect Emily Sharpe is sworn in beside her family on Dec. 6, 2021. Sharpe is the second female mayor in the history of the town of Elon.

“I absolutely love this town and I just want to continue to see it flourish and grow and all the things that we’ve been planning for so long,” Sharpe said. “I really look forward to leading with transparency and really trying to unite our community toward progress and the goals we’ve established.”

Want to know more about the town of Elon’s newest mayor? Click here to learn more.

Stephanie Bourland, who serves as the associate director of corporate and employer relations for Elon’s School of Communications, was sworn in as a board member alongside Randy Orwig, senior pastor at Elon Community Church. The two join the board following their uncontested race this November.

“As a resident of Elon for 20 years, I just want to thank all of you for … all of the work that you’ve done to make this town as wonderful as it is,” Bourland said. “I’m seeing on the first night that it’s not an easy job, and I just appreciate all the work you all have done and the time that you have put in for our community because it means a lot.”

Want to know more about the newest board members? Click here to learn more.

The board heard a presentation about construction plans in the Colonnades neighborhood on Elon University’s campus from Assistant Town Manager Pamela DeSoto. According to DeSoto and University Architect Brad Moore, construction of a pedestrian path to connect the Colonnades and Danieley residential neighborhoods will occur in the summer of 2022. 

The construction will eliminate 95 parking spots in the Colonnades parking lot, but because the Innovation Quad added over 400 parking spots, both Moore and DeSoto said eliminating the 95 for the walkway was not as much of a concern. The pedestrian walkway will make walking to and from the Danieley and Colonnades neighborhoods safer for students, according to Moore. 

Aerial shot of the proposed location for construction of a pedestrian walkway. Courtesy of the town of Elon.

“We do have a lot of students that are walking through the parking lot and they're having to weave in between cars. It's just not a very pedestrian friendly path for them,” Moore said. “This is a way to bring them back to the main campus in a more pedestrian friendly way.”

The town of Elon Planning Board voted unanimously to recommend the project and the Board of Aldermen will vote to deny or grant final approval on the project next week at the budget meeting.

To read more about some of the university’s construction projects, click here to read about the 2030 Strategic Plan, Boldly Elon.

The board also discussed the town of Elon’s policy surrounding time off for town employees infected with or in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. COVID-19 sick leave was originally 40 hours, or one week off, for town employees. This policy ended in June and the board elected in September not to adopt another policy regarding sick leave. 

The discussion is sparked after nine town of Elon employees tested positive for COVID-19 in November, and the rise of COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant. In Alamance County there are over 25,000 cases and 358 deaths as of Dec. 6, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Orwig said he would like to see a sick leave plan that allows people to stay home if they feel ill, and accounts for time off in regards to testing or quarantining because of close contacts.

“If there’s funding that’s available, I say we do it,” Orwig said. “We just don't want to penalize people for it, because if we do, they will try to come to work sick.” 

Town Manager Rich Roedner said the funding for sick leave will come from the American Rescue Plan funding the town of Elon received, which is over $3 million to be dispersed over two years. This money can be spent on public health expenditures, negative economic impacts due to the pandemic and investments in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure, among other items.

The board suggested 80 hours of sick leave for town employees for a period of six months, at which time board members will reevaluate based on the virus at that point. The board will vote on this agenda item next week at the regular session.

The next board meeting will be Dec. 14 at 6 p.m. The town of Elon town hall will be closed Dec. 23, 24, 27 and 31 in observance of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.