Residents pack chambers for meeting


City residents fill the George W. Dudley City Council Chamber on Monday at City Hall.


Staff Writer

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

A packed house at a special called meeting Monday went home with no answer as to the fate of an under-fire city official.

The Rocky Mount City Council announced no public decision after meeting two-and-a-half hours in closed session discussing the employment of City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney.

Mayor David Combs told the crowd before the council went into closed session that the meeting wasn't a public hearing and the audience wouldn't be allowed to speak.

A packed house that flowed into the third floor hallway began to dwindle into the second hour of the closed session, but at 5:30 p.m. when the council returned to chambers every seat was still filled.

Small-Toney has been under public scrutiny for the past week as information concerning her spending and hiring practices have come to light.

Combs told the crowd that the council will meet again Monday.

Resident Clark Covolo urged the crowd to return at that time. Covolo spearheaded a social media movement to have as many residents as possible at the meeting.

"We have a team of all political parties who jave come together to hold City Hall responsible," Covolo said. "We demand the resignation of Rochelle Small-Toney."

Resident Nehemiah Smith said so many people showing up was a good representation of the democratic process, although he wished as many people showed up for regular city council meetings.

"It's a large crowd," Smith said. "It's not a diverse crowd."

Most of the crowd was white.

Smith said he felt like there might be many motives for folks showing up, but he hopes everyone in attendence wants the betterment of the city and city government.

The council is set to meet at 3 p.m. Monday in a Committee of the Whole workshop.

The council then meets at 4 p.m. in the George W. Dudley City Council Chamber of the Frederick E. Turnage Municipal Building in downtown Rocky Mount.

As part of each regular meeting, the council allows public comment during its regular meetings with each speaker receiving three minutes to talk.