Sunday, December 15, 2013 —
During what Mayor Steve Huber suggested may have been “the best day in my career as part of the government in Locust,” City Council members honored Purple Heart recipients, swore in a new council member and saluted a departing one on Thursday night, all before a capacity crowd in the Joel Honeycutt Community Room.
Eight decorated veterans, all members of Chapter 634 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, flanked Huber as he read a proclamation designating Locust a “Purple Heart City” to honor not only recipients of the military award but also to pay tribute to all veterans of the armed services.
“We know there are Purple Heart recipients in this region that are not in our chapter,” said Mike Stubbs, commander of MOPH Chapter 634.
“We hope with this proclamation other Purple Heart veterans will come forward and be recognized.”
Stubbs said the organization’s mission is to foster an environment of goodwill among combat-wounded veteran members, to promote patriotism and to make sure sacrifices made by those so decorated are never forgotten.
“We know Locust is a very patriotic town,” he added.
Signs will be installed designating Locust as a Purple Heart City, one of a growing number of such municipalities in North Carolina, the nation’s third Purple Heart State.
Stubbs not only introduced the members of his group, announcing their names, branch of service and war, but he also called attention to Purple Heart recipient Miles Hatley of Locust, who attended the meeting, and asked all veterans there to stand and be recognized.
Council members commended city staff for their work on the Purple Heart project and said they were honored to have the veterans take part in the meeting.
Also Thursday night, Huber administered the oath of office to Planning and Zoning Director Scott Efird, designating him deputy city clerk. Efird returned the favor by swearing in Huber for his next term as mayor. Then Huber administered the oaths to returning council members J.C. Burris and David Walker and new member, Roger Hypes, all of whom ran unopposed. Hypes, who had served on the City's Planning and Zoning Board, had Pauline Almond, 90, who was Locust’s first female City Council member, to hold the Bible for his oath.
Hypes replaces Joe Bishop, who was recognized with a plaque for his years of service to the city and citizens of Locust, as his term on the council ended. He had chosen not to run for re-election. Huber said Bishop had been a part of city government on and off since 1995 as well as a contributor to the success of the local fire department.
City Administrator Tim Fesperman praised Bishop for his insight and wisdom, which he said had been a blessing to the city.
In other business, Locust City Council:
- Voted to award a contract for $155,026.52 to W.M. Warr & Sons Inc. for the construction of a sidewalk on North Central Avenue (N.C. 200 N.) between Market Street and Lions Club Drive. The project will be funded by a $175,000 Department of Transportation grant.
- Was informed that the Kings Heights sewer project is about 60 percent complete and is coming in under budget so far. The project will bring sewer service to 56 homes.
- Voted to donate a 2006 Dodge Charger no longer needed by Locust Police to Stanly County Sheriff’s Office for the use of a school resource officer at West Stanly Middle School. The car is valued at about $3,700.
- Voted to approve a text change regarding the Zoning Board of Adjustment to comply with a new state statute.
- Agreed to name Janice Hils and Norman Wiginton II to fill two vacancies on the Planning and Zoning Board.
- Was informed that the city had received applications for four new house permits, three commercial remodel permits, a home remodel permit and a temporary sign permit in the last month.
- Learned from Fesperman that an annual audit had been performed and no areas of deficiency found.
- Heard of plans to redevelop the city’s website. to allow for sports registrations, payments, forms and more to be accessed online. The site will also be modified to make it more mobile device friendly.
- Amended the budget to reflect an expenditure of $32,800 and an insurance claim payment for the same amount as a result of a lightning strike that damaged the Government Center earlier this year.
- Approved purchase orders totaling $19,522.13.
- Heard a public safety report that noted 852 neighborhood checks, 965 business checks, 112 citations issued and nine arrest charges during the month of November.
- Heard an update on the West Stanly Senior Center, which is set to open the second week of January in the former library. Councilman Harry Fletcher said he is developing a website to share information regarding the center’s need for volunteers, materials and more. He said the West Stanly Community Center Foundation has received its 501(c)(3) designation so that donations are tax deductible.
Luanne Williams is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.