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Gold Hill mayor resigns with letter to newspaper

GOLD HILL — With only a letter to the local paper, Mayor Dan Morris announced his resignation and quietly left town.

Morris delivered his farewell via the Gold Hill Nugget last week, saying he'd accepted a job offer in Afghanistan.

While his resignation does not take effect until Dec. 15, a woman who answered his telephone Tuesday and identified herself as his sister said the soon-to-be ex-mayor was "out of town until whenever," that he'd left the country to go to work and would not attend the Dec. 10 council meeting.

Other council members said they were left in the dark about Morris' decision until they read about it in the local paper.

Council president Judi Holdeman, who will fill in as mayor until the position is filled by appointment or an election, said she was presented with Morris' letter of resignation after it was supplied to the local paper.

Holdeman said Morris, a communications contractor, had accepted a job contract for fiber-optic work in Afghanistan.

"I knew he was looking for work out of town. He didn't know if he was going to get the job, but even before he ran for mayor he said he wanted to run and do what he could for the city, but that he might have to be out of town two or three months at a time," Holdeman said.

"This job turned out to be a year so he decided to go ahead and resign," she said.

Councilman Gus Wolf said it was disheartening to learn of the mayor's resignation via the local paper rather than through an official notice presented to the city.

Morris's resignation comes on the heels of Scott Baker's departure from the council Nov. 13. Baker said his inability to focus "wholeheartedly" on his role on the council forced him to resign. He rescinded the decision days later only to learn that the city charter most likely prevents him from taking it back.

At the meeting scheduled for Dec. 10, the council is scheduled to admit Mike Eli, whom voters selected to fill the seat vacated by the recall of Kathleen Price. Wolf said the council would proceed according to the city charter at Monday's meeting in deciding whether to fill the seats vacated by Baker and Morris by appointment or to wait for an election.

Wolf, a veteran of Gold Hill's sometimes zany local politics, said the city has "been through worse.

"This is a tough old town and it will go on," he said.

Wolf noted that years ago when he was first elected, the council shrank to just two members when "everyone quit and ran off.

"We've got a new councilor that's positive and intelligent and ready to go, we've got things to take care of "¦," Wolf said. "That leaves five of us on the council, so all we can do is move forward from here."

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.