Martin County Commissioners react after embattled county manager resigns

MARTIN COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – Martin County is buzzing with chatter after Martin County Manager James Bennett sent out a letter saying he will be retiring at the end of next month.

“I think this is a good thing. I think it’s a step in the right direction and the citizens that brought this lawsuit on as a citizen. I appreciate all that they’re doing to help to get our government to be effective in our leadership on the right path,” said Martin County resident Paul Robertson Jr.

Wednesday night there was a special called meeting and a vote to fire Bennett that failed by a vote of 3-2, but now with his retirement, County Commissioner Skip Gurganus says they can get back to the bigger task at hand: healthcare.

“We’ll get an interim, and we’ll search for a new manager to keep that process rolling. We just need to stay focused on what’s right for the citizens, and healthcare is the number one issue,” said Gurganus.

Many residents feel that the hospital’s closing is somehow connected to some commissioners and the county manager.

“I feel like that there’s more changes to be made on the board. I feel like there’s a lot of other things going on underneath the table,” said Martin County resident Cathy Price.

County Commissioner Joe Ayers said that even though the hospital closed, they are headed in the right direction to get some kind of healthcare back for the residents of Martin County.

“Our main right now is to restore healthcare to our citizens, so with credibility and honesty up at the courthouse, and we’re halfway there as of this morning, so we’re gonna work on healthcare; that’s our main focus. We got to get healthcare for the people,” said Ayers.

Right now, they are not sure what the next steps are for the hospital, but Commissioner Gurganus said they have hired one of the best consultants in the nation as the bankruptcy of the hospital comes to an end.

As for the lawsuit filed by commissioners Ayers and Gurganus they said they expect that to continue to move forward despite the development with the county manager.