ANDERSON- The town of Anderson, which is the county seat of Grimes County, has a historic tradition and plans for continued growth.
Anderson’s growth will transpire under a new mayor Karen McDuffie, who took her oath of office at Thursday’s town council meeting replacing Gail Sowell.
Sowell served as mayor for 16 years and elected to retire and move to a family farm outside Anderson’s city limits. The move makes her ineligible to retain her role as mayor.
“Stepping down as mayor after serving for the past 16 years was bittersweet for me,” explained Sowell. “Although I was ready to turn the reigns over to a new mayor, I have also enjoyed serving this town for the past 23 and a half years as alderman then mayor.”
Sowell began her term as Mayor in May 2003 when John Freeman stepped down and she was elected into the position.
“Even though I served under Freeman as an alderman for seven and a half years, I knew very little about running the town and the politics of office. When I told Mr. Freeman, I don’t know anything about being mayor, he replied it won’t take long to figure it out,” said Sowell.
Sowell said Freeman’s words couldn’t have rang truer. “The position has a lot of pros and cons and I’ve said many times over the years this job makes me be a mean person and I’m not a mean person. I don’t think I was cut out for the politics of the job, but I survived it somehow,” explained Sowell.
One final mission
When she was younger Sowell said she could make a list and get that list done within a day but as she grew older, she couldn’t finish the lists she made.
“As alderman Carol DeBose and I prepared to leave the council, we were determined to mark one last thing off our list of things to do. We gathered information and had three plaques made for each mayor that will hang in the hall of the mayor’s office,” said Sowell.
Sowell stated they researched the history of Anderson’s town council. They found Anderson was incorporated by a special legislative session in 1851 and 1856. They were unsuccessful in finding out much more information except that the last council held office in the early 1880s, so they began with more recent information.
The first plaque denotes when Anderson was incorporated for one year from April 2, 1983, to April 7, 1984, when it dissolved. F.D. Calhoun was elected the town mayor and serving as alderman under him were Richard “Dickie” Ward, George Calhoun, Randy Cleere, Carnell Carrell and Glen Love. Bessie White served as constable-collector and Lovett Boggess was the town attorney.
Once the council dissolved, the town remained unincorporated from 1984 till 1995. In 1995 Anderson regained its incorporation and remains incorporated. The second plaque pays homage to John Freeman who served as mayor from January 1995 until May 2003. Serving as alderman were F.D. Calhoun, David Heyman, Norman Blake, Andrew Thomas, Tom Johanson and Gail Sowell. Marshall Calhoun was the town marshal, Lovette Boggess attorney and RoAnne Stanley served as town clerk.
The third plaque pays tribute to Sowell during her tenure from May 2003 till May 2019. Throughout the years, alderman serving under Sowell were F.D. Calhoun, David Heyman, Tim Johanson, Bill Robinett, Betty Pavlock, Erna Freeman, Ernest Henderson, Joe Boudreaux, Carol DeBose, Karen McDuffie, Harold Minor, Daryl Alford and Carnell Carrell. Four attorneys served under Sowell, Lovett Boggess, John DeMille, Angela Collier Seager and Michael Carsetto. Serving as town clerk were RoAnne Stanley, Mary Bostelman and Cindy Olivieri.
A new plaque is in the works under newly elected mayor McDuffie. Taking their oath along with McDuffie were alderman Harold Minor and Bessie Calhoun White. Minor was also appointed as secretary. Mayor pro-tem Daryl Alford and alderman Carnell Carrell are serving under McDuffie. One alderman seat remains vacated but will be filled in a future council meeting.