Cross receives special sendoff in Bermuda Run: Chatty mayor almost speechless in final council meeting after four years as mayor

Published 12:10 am Thursday, December 21, 2023

BERMUDA RUN — Admittedly, Rick Cross likes to talk, but Bermuda Run’s mayor for the previous four years was almost speechless after an overwhelming stream of positive comments and accolades highlighting his farewell town council meeting last Tuesday night.

In fact, Lee Collins, a longtime former town manager, announced that Cross was recently honored with the Grady Hunter Award for outstanding service to the Piedmont Triad Regional Council.

“Rick has been an advocate in our 12-county Piedmont Triad Region, and it was my privilege to be part of the luncheon where he was honored,” said Rollins, who was one in a long line of those who have worked with or seen the impact Cross has made in the town since joining the planning board in 2016, followed by being elected to the council in 2017 and then mayor in 2019.

“One word that brings to mind during Rick’s tenure was perspective,” Rollins said. “He constantly sought perspective and divergent viewpoints and was never one to tell anyone anything other than trying to bring consensus. I really appreciate Mayor Cross sticking to his viewpoint for what good government is all about, and that’s listening to all people.”

Rollins also brought along a parting gift — a special chair noting a popular local bakery and meeting place where Cross conducted plenty of “unofficial business” with the following inscription:
Mayor Rick Cross
2019-2023
Maddie Cakes Diplomacy Chair

Mike Brannon, who was sworn in as the new mayor, handled calling up those present to the podium and others who sent along messages paying tribute to Cross — which took up the largest portion of the meeting. That included Davie County’s own State Rep. Julia Howard, who noted his “humble heart” and that it was “truly a pleasure to work with you” in her brief comments.

Howard then presented Cross with a flag flown in his honor, along with a certificate recognizing his leadership and service.

Terry Bralley, the president of the Davie County Economic Development Commission, talked about the commitment of Cross on looking beyond the borders of the town.

“Thank you for your leadership and bringing Bermuda Run into the fold and not just looking at this region or this county but for the greater good of the state,” Bralley said. “What was good for one was good for all. You brought that attitude, that work ethic.”

Andrew Meadwell, who took over as the new town manager replacing Rollins in the summer of 2022, said: “Without you, I would not be in this position that I am today as one of the key reasons that I chose to come to Bermuda Run was based on conversations that you and I had. I told you about my belief in relationships and partnerships and I got from you that was the way I would feel in this organization. You’ve heard a lot of common themes about this man.”

Meadwell said he learned in the fall about the application process regarding the Grady Hunter Award for outstanding service to the regional council and immediately knew Cross was the ideal candidate as a true public servant who was soft-spoken but commanded respect with his approach while being engaged in every possible way.

Brannon, who has worked closely with Cross during the last year in anticipation of trying to fill “those big shoes,” concluded the comments portion by saying, “We’ve heard from several distinguished guests and could have filled the Blue Heron Trail with many other people who would have lined up tonight and echoed those same sentiments.

“Let me conclude by saying, thank you for your sacrifice and thank you for your service on behalf of myself, the council, staff and all the people you represent. Thank you for your leadership, thank you for partnership, and personally, thank you for your mentorship.”

Besides accepting the flag from Howard and the chair from Rollins, Cross sat quietly in a chair among staff members up front during all the flattering remarks before taking his turn.

“I will be very brief,” said Cross, who earlier in the meeting thanked and recognized each of the council members and staff. “This has been way too much about me. And it should be focused on these folks (who are leaving) and these folks right here (who were elected). It’s about the future. I’m touched to have heard all of this.

“It’s been an honor to serve this community and a privilege to represent this community for the past four years as the town’s mayor. She’s going to hate me for saying this, but who I want to thank most is my wife, Sue. She has been my inspiration and my energy, and for all that I have done, thank you for being there with me. That’s all I’ve got to say.”

Earlier in the meeting, the council recognized the efforts of Curtis Capps and Heather Coleman, who both served as council members for four years but chose not to seek re-election.

Both were presented with shadow boxes and admitted it has been the fastest four years of their lives along with praising the staff and what an honor and pleasure it has been to serve.

Brannon, who ran unopposed for mayor, then took the oath of office before the recognition for Cross.

The two new council members, Rae Nelson and Jeff Tedder, who were the two top vote-getters in November’s municipal election, then were administered the oath of office and were seated up front with returning council members Mike Ernst, who was voted again to serve as mayor pro tempore, and Melinda Szeliga.

With the council seat belonging to Brannon becoming vacant, it will be the council’s role to appoint someone as his replacement after he was elected mayor.

“We will be working to fill that aggressively and want the process to move quickly,” Brannon said.

In another comment at the end of last Tuesday night’s meeting, Brannon said that the annual Christmas in the town of Bermuda Run celebration on Dec. 5 continued to grow, with crowd estimates of more than 2,000 turning out for the event.