The last few months have brought many changes to the Morgan City Council. The resignation of Mayor Jim Egbert resulted in bringing Morgan City their new mayor, Ray Little. The domino effect of Little’s appointment to the mayoral seat was that his council seat was left vacant.
Little’s vacancy was announced May 9 in The Morgan County News, but very few applicants were seen in the first few weeks. The application deadline was May 23, and upon Friday’s deadline, six applicants had filed for the appointed position.
Applicant Dick Slate said, “It is exciting to see this many capable applicants for this position. It shows what a great community we have when so many are willing to serve.” Slate’s time in the military resulted in him being awarded with a purple heart, so Slate is no stranger to civic duty and service.
Slate and the other candidates answered four pre-determined questions and introduced themselves. Many expressed their thanks for the great job the current council has done in encouraging business in the area. The common thread discussed was the need for responsible growth within the community, the idea of encouraging new business while keeping Morgan’s small town feel alive.
Councilwoman Shelly Betz said, “The decision was a difficult one,” but after a closed session the council came back with a unanimous decision to appoint Fran Hopkin to fill Little’s vacant council seat.
Tony London addressed the applicants before the motion was made to appoint Hopkin and said, “I have lived in Morgan all my life and I often hear that we need to close those gates and the mouth of the canyon, but this community is made up of wonderful people who are new to the area and I am certainly impressed at the representation of that here today.” He went on to express appreciation for all those who applied.
Hopkin grew up in Morgan, but moved away after graduating from Morgan High School. During his time away, he always referred to this area as “God’s Country.” He and his wife, McKenzie, moved back to Morgan City to occupy his parents’ home while they were serving their church for two years. This was supposed to be a temporary arrangement, but Hopkin’s wife fell so in love with the community, they decided to buy a home and put down new roots.
Hopkin is employed with Weber State University in Administration and Enrollment Services and has been there for 10 years.
Hopkin believes that a successful community is one that is made up of individuals who are willing to work and serve together. “I believe civic service is critical,” said Hopkin. “I didn’t think I would get involved so soon, but things are so quiet right now, that means you all are doing a great job. I want to learn now so I can be useful when things may not be quite so quiet.”
He continued saying that he wants to take what he loved about the community growing up and make sure it is that kind of a community for his own children.
“I definitely think that there are economic issues in the community that are being addressed, but the second part to that is housing. The sentiment seems to be that housing costs are high in Morgan. We need to continue to look at housing opportunities for moderate income families,” urged newly appointed Councilman Hopkin.
Hopkin would love to see more community involvement. “People need to get out of their homes and work and play together. The vitality of a community depends on the vitality and civic involvement of its citizens,” said Hopkin. He has been impressed with the opportunities that things like Christmas on Commercial, Movies in the Park and other small-town events provide to the citizens of Morgan and wants to see those continue.
The council and Hopkin elected to perform the swearing in on the spot so that he can begin serving his 17-month term right away. In June 2015, applications will be taken for five open council seats for the election in November. Councilwoman Betz encouraged all applicants to continue to hold on to that civic feeling and run for office in the upcoming election to provide the residents of Morgan many choices for their continued representation.