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Maggie bids farewell to longtime voice and local personality

fr aldridgeLongtime alderman and Maggie Valley resident and business owner Phil Aldridge resigned from the town board last week.

Aldridge was a staple around town and owned Phil’s Grocery on Soco Road — the only grocery store in the valley for years. He was elected to the town board nine years ago and was currently serving his third term.


Aldridge tendered his resignation following the board’s Tuesday meeting. He was all smiles when explaining the reason why he was leaving. Aldridge headed out that night for his hometown of Florence, Ala. By now, he is married to a girl he knew as a young teen, Sharon Draper Lovelace. Aldridge and Lovelace had recently reconnected online and fallen in love.

“We wish you well,” said Alderman Saralyn Price.

Since aldermen are required to be residents of the town and state in which they serve, Aldridge, who plans to remain in Alabama, was forced to resign.

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During Aldridge’s tenure on the board, he was known for his honesty, never hesitating to speak his mind even if unpopular. While his forthrightness made him a champion to many in Maggie, he was also criticized for his bluntness at times.

Aldridge spent most of his first eight years on the board as a lone voice and frequent odd man out, butting heads with the established power structure. In last November’s election, he partnered with two new candidates, Phillip Wight and Ron DeSimone, who ran as a team pledging to usher in a new guard. The group advertised themselves as change agents and the voice for a new Maggie Valley.

Joining their voting bloc last fall and further enforcing their new majority on the board was Michael Matthews, another newcomer to town politics. Matthews was appointed to fill a vacancy left by a former alderman who, like Aldridge, moved away.

DeSimone Tuesday thanked Aldridge for serving on the board.

“I would like to thank Mr. Aldridge for his time and service,” DeSimone said.

The remaining four town board members must now appoint someone to replace Aldridge until next year’s town election, when the appointed board member must formally run for the seat if they want to keep it. Those interested must apply with the town by 5 p.m. Aug. 27.

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