Willardson is new town attorney for Wilkesboro
John Willardson (to view the original article click: here)
Posted: Wednesday, June 4, 2014 2:00 pm | Updated: 2:01 pm, Wed Jun 4, 2014.
John Willardson was appointed Monday night by the Wilkesboro town council as the new town attorney.
Willardson succeeds Bill Gray, who submitted his resignation Monday after 26 years of service. Gray is stepping down because of health concerns.
In his letter to the board, Gray said, “Since 1988, it has been a true privilege to serve as the attorney for the Town of Wilkesboro. Without question, working with the town, its officials, and employees has been the joy of my legal career.”
Gray added, “I had hoped to continue in that capacity. Unfortunately, in the last year or so, I have been plagued with health issues. I thought that I would significantly recover and fully return to my activities. As of this date, that recovery has not come to fruition. Accordingly, I believe that under the current circumstances, it is best that I step aside as town attorney.”
Gray said that he would assist the town “in any way I can, including consulting with those who carry on my work. I would hope that you would consider me a resource for you as through my many years as town attorney, I have had the opportunity to acquire a wealth of information about Wilkesboro.
“It is with a heavy, but grateful and appreciative heart that I tender this letter,” he said. “Thank you for giving a hometown boy the opportunity of a lifetime.”
Mayor Mike Inscore, upon the approval of the council of Willardson’s contract, said “I am delighted that we have someone of the caliber of John who will provide legal counsel for the town. I’m happy that we were able to work through the contract negotiations with no problems.”
Willardson said, “I welcome the opportunity to serve the town in this capacity. Municipal corporations law is new to me, and I will have to get up to speed. But I look forward to the training, and to serving the town.
“Although I am honored to be offered this position, I am also humbled by the realization that I am following in the footsteps of my friend, Bill Gray, who has served this town with honor and distinction for over 26 years,” Willardson added. “It will be difficult to live up to the high standard that Bill has set, but I will welcome the challenge.”
The council members, who agreed unanimously to approve Willardson for the position, agreed to pay Willardson a monthly fee of $2,500 for standard legal services which will include attending regular council meetings and work sessions, as well as meetings of the board of adjustments and town planning board, reviewing and drafting legal contracts and documents, researching applicable North Carolina law and providing legal advice, as needed.
The town will pay Willardson a fee of $150 per hour for non-standard, extra work as needed.
The term of the initial contract is for one year.
Willardson’s practice, with Bill Lipscomb, is located on East Main Street in Wilkesboro.
Willardson, a resident of Wilkesboro, is a native of Santa Monica, Calif., and a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, where he completed a double major in Spanish and political science. He served in the Army before attending UNC Law School. He has practiced law for over 35 years.
He is immediate past president of the 23rd Judicial District bar, a member of the N.C. State Bar Council, a member of the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism, a member of the N.C. Bar Association’s Dispute Resolution Council and the N.C. Bar Association’s Committee for the Independence of the Judiciary.
He is past president of the N.C. Association of Defense Attorneys, past president of the Wilkes County Bar Association and past president of the UNC Law Alumni Board of Directors.
Willardson has served on the boards of many local organizations, including the Wilkes Family YMCA, the North Wilkesboro Kiwanis Club, Wilkes ADAP, Hospice, Wilkes Art Gallery, Wilkes Babe Ruth League baseball and Wilkes Flying Club. In 2010 he was presented by the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina with its highest honor, the Red Triangle Award, for his leadership and volunteer service to the Wilkes Family YMCA.
Willardson and his wife, Ann, have one son, Jonathan Drew Willardson, also a UNC-CH graduate and a 2014 graduate of the Charlotte School of Law.