PELETIER — Peletier commissioners Monday night began the process of finding a replacement for town attorney John Tantum, who resigned effective June 30 after more than five years in the position.

The board, during its meeting in the town hall off Highway 58, decided to advertise the position and seek proposals from attorneys.

But that came after the initial discussion appeared headed toward immediately hiring Bret DeSelms, who is the attorney for nearby Cape Carteret, the city of Jacksonville and the Western Carteret Interlocal Cooperation Agency, which oversees the Western Carteret Fire and EMS Department.

Mayor Dale Sowers brought up DeSelms. “He’s very good and up to date on (municipal) rules,” Mayor Sowers said. “His rate is $175 per hour” the mayor noted, adding that Mr. Tantum had been working for the town for several years at no cost.

Commissioner Dan Taylor quickly made a motion to hire Tantum.

“We’re not going to solicit applications?” asked Commissioner Tim Quinn. “I think we should at least solicit applications.”

Taylor said he wanted to get a town attorney as soon as possible.

Quinn agreed and said it was important for the town to act as soon as possible to send legal letters to owners of nuisance, eyesore or hazardous properties. Earlier in the meeting, part-time town code enforcement officer Kris Jensen, a lieutenant in the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office, had reported on his most recent efforts, some of which he said are in limbo.

Quinn said he was sure DeSelms was a good attorney, “but I don’t know him. I’m trying to be a team player, but I’d like to see us put a notice in the paper to solicit applications until Aug. 28.”

Quinn said the town could call a special board of commissioners meeting for that date and could review the applications and act immediately to hire an attorney.

Taylor agreed to withdraw his motion, but at first indicated he would not second Quinn’s motion to solicit applications. He eventually did second the motion, and it passed unanimously. Walter Krause was the third commissioner present for the meeting. Steven Overby and David Bragg were absent.

Tantum, whose office is in Cedar Point, only attended board meetings when requested, which has been rare in the past few years. In his resignation letter, he gave no reason for his departure, said he wished the town well and offered to aid in the selection of his replacement.

In response to questions about his resignation Tuesday, he said he left Peletier on good terms with all involved and added that he was paid for some of his work.

As for why he left, he called “a time management thing” for his law practice. 

Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.

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