The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

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July 11, 2014

Locust honors Mexican restaurant, city employees

Resident complains of problem near his house on North Beverly

Friday, July 11, 2014 — A lot of accolades and a little axe-grinding marked the Locust City Council meeting Thursday, as officials recognized employee accomplishments, named a Business of the Month and heard from one disgruntled resident.

Mi Fuente, a Mexican restaurant on North Central Avenue, was named the city’s Business of the Month via a new program to recognize establishments for their corporate citizenship.

“The idea was to pick businesses that are good stewards, good neighbors, who provide a service in the community, good aesthetics and basically are contributing to our community,” Councilman Mike Haigler said as he presented the award.

Locust Finance Director Michael Rupp was also commended for his recent qualification for certification via the N.C. Government Finance Officers Association. Rupp will receive his certificate at the organization’s March 2015 meeting.

In recognizing Rupp, Mayor Pro Tem David Walker called attention to the city’s fiscal fitness at year-end, noting that Locust collected 98 percent of anticipated revenue in the general fund while keeping expenses down to 87 percent. Similarly, the waste water fund showed 98 percent of revenues collected and expenses holding at 95 percent of budget.

“This city — employees, staff, department heads — they work very, very diligently every day to wisely manage and use the citizens' money,” Walker said.

“It shows. These are great numbers.”

Police Chief Frank Hartsell honored a member of his department, Officer Kevin O’Connor, who recently received his Advanced Law Enforcement Certificate. As part of what Hartsell described as a “very prestigious achievement,” and “one of the highest awards you can receive as a law enforcement officer in North Carolina,” he said O’Connor had to have a bachelor’s degree, complete 480 hours of additional training and have six years of full-time service.

Hartsell said O’Connor joins him, Assistant Chief Eric Thomas, Sgt. Steve Smith, Councilman Haigler and Mayor Huber, all of whom have earned the Advanced Law Enforcement Certificate.

Finally, Locust officials heard from North Beverly Drive resident Ben Thomas, who complained about a drainage problem, which he blames on the demise of a ditch near his home.

“One time we had a ditch down there, but somebody filled it in and I don’t understand why,” Thomas said.

“The water is running on some lots I own.”

He also complained to the Council about the sewer availability fee and interrupted several times as City Administrator Tim Fesperman tried to explain that sewer services, which increase the value of property, cannot be funded via taxes.

In other news, the Council:

 announced that an additional event, the Rough Cut Cowboy Race, has been added to the Stanly County Hospice Outdoor Expo set for October in Locust.

 reported a successful Bark in the Park event with 13 vendors and growth at the Thursday afternoon Farmers Market, with about 10 vendors weekly.

 was reminded that because of state law changes, beginning next fiscal year cities will not be able to collect business privilege taxes as they have in the past, a  change that could cost Locust some $40,000 to $45,000 in revenue.

“We will have to do something differently,” Fesperman said.

 approved $8,053 in purchase orders, the vast majority of which related to waste water equipment and supplies.

 was informed that Officer Jeff Shelton Park was to reopen Friday following the installation of a drainage pipe and large catch basin to deal with flooding problems. Fesperman said initial plans called for two pipes, but workers hit a huge rock and had to redesign the project. Even so, he said he believes it will take care of the drainage issue.

 noted that ABC sales were up 8.7 percent during the last fiscal year, ranking Locust 34th in sales in the state among some 167 local ABC boards.

 announced that the next installment of the summer concert series would be July 19 and feature Summerdaze. The event will be on the back porch of Locust City Hall beginning at 6 p.m.

 learned that Mayor Steve Huber has been recruited to join Locust Police Department’s softball team, the Enforcers.

“They pulled a 20-year-old bat out of retirement,” Huber said.

Luanne Williams is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.


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