The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

February 4, 2013

Stanly County leaders look at ways to fix communication system

By Brian Graves, Staff Writer

Monday, February 4, 2013 — Stanly County is working toward improving the communications system used by county and emergency personnel.

That was a major subject discussed during a county liaison meeting which brought together leaders of the county and some of the leaders of the county’s municipalities.

County Commission Chairman Gene McIntyre said there has been conversations with Rowan County seeking the best way to improve the ability to communicate.

“We’ve been trying to get what the cost is and what the benefits and limitations are, but we’ve got to upgrade the system,” McIntyre said.

“We hear everyday about someone out on the road and they can’t make contact.”

He said Rowan County had done a good job in establishing its system and it will be important to not only have reliable communications within the county, but with neighboring counties as well.

“This is important because Locust, Richfield and Misenheimer fire departments do a lot of service outside of the county and sometimes they can’t communicate back and forth and it’s important they be able to do that,” McIntyre said.

There are also being surveys done of the county’s communication towers as part of the effort to determine exactly how officials will be able to make the needed improvements.

McIntyre said the communications system is one of the items the commission will discuss when it holds its annual retreat Feb. 22 at the Stanly County Airport.

Each of the city leaders gave a brief report about their town and the subjects they are facing.

New London Mayor Calvin Gaddy said his town is “real quiet and going well.”

He noted the city has done a good job of “staying in the black” and saving money every year.

Gaddy also wanted to invite everyone to visit the town museum which is open on Sundays from 2-4 p.m.

Albemarle Mayor Whit Whitley reported the town was 95 percent complete on renovating the sewer treatment plant and bringing it up to Occupational and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) standards.

The mayor recalled when the plant was originally constructed the cost was $1 million. The renovation costs are topping $5 million.

Albemarle received a $1 million matching grant from the Rural Center and a $3 million loan from the state.

“It’s amazing what sewer treatment costs,” Whitley said.

“It’s an expensive proposition.”

He also mentioned the $900,000 renovation and upgrading construction ongoing at the Living Center.

“It’s been a long process, four years at least,” Whitley said.

The mayor also described the recent water leak on U.S. 52 in front of Delco Plaza.

He described how the joints in the water lines had been originally put together when the highway was two lanes.

“When it became four lanes, I’m sure the city did not have the money to replace that line to get it out from under the highway,” Whitley said.

“As a result, the truck traffic and the vibration it puts on that line causes the joint to become loose. Now, about every year we have a blow out.”

Whitley said fixing those leaks are “no small thing,” having used 80 tons of asphalt at $60 per ton, then having to cut the concrete.

“You are probably talking $20,000 to $25,000 blow out. It was pretty massive,” Whitley said.

“All those who worked on it should get some kind of medal having had to work all night to get it repaired.”

Locust Mayor Scott Huber introduced himself, as he was attending his first liaison meeting.

“I admire what you all do, especially under some of the circumstances you do,” Huber told his counterparts.

City Administrator Tim Fesperman noted some of the water and power problems Locust has dealt with recently and said it shows how the the county’s governments are interdependent on each other.

“It shows how much everybody depends on everybody in this room and other rooms in government to try to make sure all this stuff work and there’s no way to make everything work all the time,” Fesperman said.

“In Locust, we know we have to work with everybody and have an atmosphere that we depend on a lot of folks. It’s important for us. We have to give back and be in that mode.”

He also noted that even with the changes in government leadership over the pat few months, “we haven’t missed a beat and continue to move forward.”

“Our goal is to be as compatible as we can be with our systems and to work with everybody to make sure we keep an attractive place to live,” Fesperman said.

Red Cross Mayor Larry Smith reported “not much” in his “neat little community.”

“We’re trying to get a road into the town hall finished by this spring,” Smith said.

He said the town had also saved taxpayers $7,600 by paying off the debt on property the town had purchased.

Misenheimer Mayor Michael Riemann said the village is redoing zoning and land use plans.

“We’re trying to take a good long look at that because we want to maintain our quaint atmosphere and still develop new revenues,” Riemann said.

He said there are also conversations about partnering with the county on sewer works.

“We have a nice surplus, but small communities our size that provide their own utilities really struggle and we don’t want to put ourselves in that kind of bind,” Riemann said.

To submit story ideas, contact Brian Graves at 704-982-2121 or email at brian@stanlynewspress. com.