After 30 years, Cajah's Mountain parts with Lois Andes

Jan. 08, 2014 @ 02:39 PM

The Cajah’s Mountain Town Council convened Tuesday night for its first meeting of 2014 without one member who had been there since the town began.

After 30 years on the town council, Lois Andes declined to run for re-election in November. Andes was first elected to the town council immediately after the town’s incorporation in 1983.

Andes said she has had some medical problems and figured it was time to step down.

“I enjoyed my 30 years with the town. I learned a lot and saw a lot change,” Andes said. “I’m just tired and I didn’t feel like I was giving the town what the town needed, so I decided that in the election I would let somebody else take over the reins and let them get some experience.”

Lloyd C. Robbins, a transport officer with the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office, was elected to the vacancy. He was sworn in Dec. 3.

Andes, who also was part of the initial group that worked toward incorporation of Cajah’s Mountain, has attended something like 360 town council meetings and negotiated 30 municipal budgets. As the town’s finance officer, she signed thousands of checks – about 10,000, Town Manager Connie South estimated.

Andes said she was most proud of the town’s determination to keep functioning without a property tax. “We’ve been a town for 30 years, since ’83, and we have no taxes. That’s an accomplishment.”

Other than that, the highlight of the experience, she said, was developing relationships.

“It was a good learning experience,” she said. “I’ve met a lot of people over the years and made lasting friendships. I always had a good board to serve with.”

Mayor Ronnie Setzer said Andes deserves some credit for the more day-to-day operations of the town since its incorporation – from installing sewer to offering garbage and recycling.

“Lois has been there,” he said. “I’m in my 10th year, but Lois has been there 30, and she’s presided over all this. I think all those accomplishments are noteworthy, considering that we don’t charge anybody property tax.”  

South, who has been Cajah’s Mountain’s town manager for 26 years, said Andes was the one who recommended her for the job.

“I tell her, ‘You’re responsible for this,’” South said. “‘For good and bad, you’re responsible.’ I’m going to miss her – even though we still remain friends, I’m going to miss seeing her on a weekly basis.”

Setzer said he has high hopes for Robbins’ tenure on the council – but that things won’t be quite the same without Andes, whose assigned seat at council meetings was directly on Setzer’s left.

“We’ve had other (council members) that have been replaced, but Lois was always on my left-hand side at council meetings,” Setzer said. “It’s different now.”