Resignations and appointments change key roles in Manteo

Published 5:25 pm Saturday, January 25, 2020

The Town of Manteo is seeking a new town attorney after Wyatt Booth resigned. The Raleigh-based attorney sent a letter of resignation to the Manteo mayor on Wednesday, January 15 just prior to the town’s first Board of Commissioners meeting of the new year. The BOC declined to routinely reappoint Booth in December when first term commissioner Betty Selby suggested appointing another attorney.

In his resignation letter, Booth wrote: “After much reflection over the last month, I have decided to step down as Town Attorney for the Town of Manteo . . . Both my law practice and the Town have evolved, and I feel that it is in the best interest of all concerned that I start a new chapter and focus on my private practice.

Booth has agreed to provide consulting and advisory legal services for the town during a search for his replacement. Commissioner Jason Borland, another first term commissioner and a proponent of change, thanked Booth for his service and added he would hate for him [Booth] to think he was run out of town and asked that proper respect be given to the attorney.

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The BOC directed the town to begin the search and commissioner Eddie Mann asked that priority be given to local attorneys.

The second resignation announced was submitted by Planning Board member Bill Parker. Parker, who had served two decades on the Planning Board, much of the time as chairman, had appeared to become increasingly frustrated at the direction of the Planning Board’s lessening role over recent years. Although retaining his seat, he had been replaced by Hal Goodman as the board chairman in 2018.

Mayor Pro-Tem Betty Selby, who was conducting the meeting after Mayor Bobby Owens abruptly left for a prior engagement, opened the floor for nominations. Four candidates – Nicole Northrup, Sherry Wickstrom, Jamie Daniels and Vicki Basnight – were nominated for three seats available on the Planning Board.

Northrup, having been appointed only a month ago to fill a vacant seat, was reappointed and Wickstrom, who has lived in Manteo a little over a year, was also seated. Daniels was appointed to the last open seat, but not before Borland questioned his tenure as mayor during a dredging project that came under state scrutiny, leading to allegations that a then-Manteo commissioner profited from the project.

Commissioner Darrell Collins defended Daniels, saying he shouldn’t be held responsible for something that Daniels and other commissioners at the time were not aware of. Selby thought otherwise and nominated Basnight. Daniels squeaked by, gaining support from four of the six commissioners. Northrup, Wickstrom and Daniels will join Fields Scarborough and Hal Goodman on the Planning Board in February.

Having selected the three newest members for the Planning Board, commissioners then turned their attention to selecting a Planning Board chairperson from among the five sitting members. In a bit of a surprise, the commissioners turned to Wickstrom to lead the group.  Although Wickstrom has only been a resident of Manteo a short time, she was hailed by her supporters as having the experience to lead the group. Her resume includes a 20 year council member term in Eden Prairie, Minn., serving as an academic dean and a background in historic preservation. Wickstrom replaces Goodman as chairman.

Challenges facing the Planning Board in upcoming months will include developing a comprehensive plan that will meet new legislative zoning regulations and reviews of large projects, including proposed College of The Albemarle campus development.



Dare commissioners take action; receive two proposals