KENLY, N.C. (WNCN) — Nearly every pew was filled Friday night at a temple of praise in Kenly.
People who live in Kenly, some who don’t, and elected officials gathered to rally in support of Justine Jones — Kenly’s former town manager.
“I just want her to walk with her head up high,” said Allen Thomas, chairman of the Hoke County Board of Commissioners.
This week, Kenly Town Council voted 3-2 to terminate a contract with Jones after a two-hour closed meeting.
The Kenly Police Department resigned on July 20 citing the work environment created by Jones.
The council received the results of an investigation into the police department and town staff resignations. The town’s mayor said the investigation did not find there was a toxic work environment.
Jones was emotional Friday after receiving a standing ovation from supporters as she walked to the front of the church.
“But I never expected within weeks on the job to find about half the staff walk out the door. What they didn’t realize when they did that was the bloodline that I come from. I wasn’t built to break. I wasn’t going to let them break me,” Jones said.
She didn’t go into detail but said in the midst of everything that was happening she continued to do her job.
Jones also said claims against her aren’t true and that there was a culture of complacency.
“I knew I had nothing to worry about and I sat on my hands for six, seven, eight weeks while people dragged my name, my reputation and character through the mud while I stood strong,” she said.
“We can be trailblazers here in Kenly for what we will do for the community we care for,” Jones added.
Two members from the town council were in attendance, Keith Davis, and Lawanda Neal. They both said they support Jones.
Jones didn’t say what she has planned next, but said she’s made peace with the situation