On Monday, February 5, 2024, the Hope Mills board unanimously approved the decision for Chancer McLaughlin to become the town manager. McLaughlin accepted his new role, and was sworn in with his parents, wife, and daughter by his side. His fraternity brothers from his local chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., and a host of friends were also present to witnessed this historic moment as he becomes the first African American town manager for the municipality. The perfect night was a moment of reflection during this Black History Month, recognizing the achievements and contributions of African Americans.
“It means the world to me because I am cognizant and fully aware of the people looking to me for guidance. I have a duty to build a bridge that creates a path for those coming after me. This is what it means to walk in the footsteps of the ones who came before me while creating a path for others,” McLaughlin said to the Exclusive Press at this historic moment in Black history.
Highlights of Chancer McLaughlin inauguration ceremony with his wife, daughter, and parents by his side; Photo Credit: Tracey Morrison/The Exclusive Press
Madison McLaughlin, McLaughlin’s daughter, was also recognized as Little Miss FSU Hometown Bronco at the Cumberland County Alumni Chapter Pageant to make the occasion commemorative.
Mayor Jessie Bellflowers expressed McLaughlin’s passion and efficiency as interim town manager for the betterment of the Hope Mills community – stating that the board have immense confidence in his ability to serve in his new role as Town Manager.
McLaughlin became the interim town manager, after Scott Meszaros resigned in February 2023. The Scotland County native has also served the town of Hope Mills for nine years as the Planning Director, Economic Development Director, and Development Services Director.
Hope Mills Mayor Bellflowers noted that McLaughlin inherited and executed several internal issues related to employee morale, complaints, and lawsuits.
“He immediately addressed those by making mandatory Diversity Equity Inclusion (DEI) training for all town employees, and assisted the town’s Police Department to be more community police-oriented,” Bellflowers stated.
Shortly after accepting his role as interim town manager, McLaughlin presented a new town operating budget last year, which is currently in operation. In addition to his other accomplishments in his role as interim town manager, he continued with the Public Safety Building oversight until it was completed, along with Heritage Park Phase One, which is a 13-year project, and an inclusive playground complex, Phase Two, which is a10-year project. Some of the goals he’s currently working on are the prioritizing the town’s budget, developing the town’s comprehensive strategic plan, and a subdivision ordinance case study.
With his noted highlights and dedication to the town of Hope Mills, the board felt it was the right decision to hire McLaughlin for the role. “I realize that some citizens want the town manager position advertised prior to the town board making a final decision. I say this because I want folks to hear it from me. I will tell you that Mr. McLaughlin has worked in the interim town manager’s position for one year – in four positions he inherited a number of projects, and his recent performance evaluation was rated above average, which means he exceeds the performance standard,” Bellflowers stated.
“If there’s nothing else that will compel someone, that speaks volumes about his passion and dedication for the position he’s in. And I don’t know what benefit it would be to advertise for a position to spend taxpayer dollars when we have the right person (McLaughlin) at the right time to make the right decision,” he added.
The historic moment also ended on a good note, as the town recognized the Hodges family, commemorating the celebration of Black History Month for Hope Mills on February 5, 2024.
McLaughlin is appreciative to create history for the town of Hope Mills on this groundbreaking moment to celebrate black excellence. “The fact that this honor was bestowed upon me during Black History Month solidifies that this is a legacy that I am creating. It’s bigger than me; it’s about what this means to our people to see that there’s nothing that we can’t achieve if we work hard while using our gifts,” he stated.
He expressed his honor to fill the role and looks forward to continuing to raise the standard of excellence for Hope Mills while being a beacon of light for his community.