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Board approves reward, increases paving funds

Norwood Commissioners unanimously voted to authorize a reward of $500 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the person or persons guilty of arson and vandalism occurring on Whitley Street the evening of June 12.

“(Norwood Police) Chief (James) Wilson will determine if information gathered is sufficient to qualify for the award,” Mayor Harold Thompson said.

A car was set on fire, and the letters “KKK” were painted on a house, allegedly in connection to the earlier death of 19-year-old Taylor Liles.

“It is the family that is related to the suspect in the murder,” said Wilson, who also reported that the case was under thorough investigation by “multiple law enforcement agencies,” including Norwood Police, Stanly County Sheriff’s Office and the State Bureau of Investigation.

“I don’t expect this case to move along very fast,” he said.

Following a public hearing, the proposed town budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year, including a late addition of $80,000 for street paving on Chad, Railroad and Alberta streets, passed by a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Larry McMahon dissenting, and Commissioner Robbie Cohen absent.

McMahon’s opposition was based on a 15 percent increase in water rates contained in the city’s enterprise fund.

“I know some people that are only bringing in about $600 a month,” he said, “and with this increase they will be forced to decide between buying food or medications.”

Commissioner James Lilly observed that the board had little to no choice in the matter, and that the increase was necessary based on information that had been presented to the board earlier in the year.

Interim Town Administrator Ray Allen reported to commissioners on the ongoing installation of water meters by United Metering Services.

“We have about 50 meters at residences and businesses that are almost always on the cutoff list,” said Allen, “and we have to send someone out to manually cut the water off and/or on. Beginning in September, these will be switched out to UMS electronic meters that can be controlled from here (Town Hall), and will eliminate having to send an employee out.”

Allen noted that some UMS meters that have been installed at vacant homes can now be remotely tested for activation.

“Previously, the water had to be turned on to the meter to test it,” he said. “With the new technology, we can check to see if the meter will activate properly without having to flow-test it.”

A number of meters had also been damaged, noted Allen.

“Our staff with Water and Sewer and Finance is compiling a list of damaged meters,” he said, “and UMS will repair and replace them once they get our list.”

In other action:

• Allen reported that a sewer blockage near the Edgewater Community Clubhouse had been located and removed, that purchase orders for various repairs at Darrell Almond Park had been completed and that all recommendations from a recent N.C. Department of Labor inspection of town worksites had been implemented.

• Allen, along with Commissioner Wes Hartsell, reported on new procedures for solid waste collection, including a zone system, limits on the maximum weekly pickup amount per household and yard waste and seasonal leaf pickup.

• Commissioners heard a report from Stanly County Planning and Zoning official Tim Swaringen regarding ongoing steps toward removing a substandard structure at 545 Fork Road.

• They voted to alter the board’s meeting schedule from two meetings a month to one during July, August and September. Meetings will take place at 7 p.m. the first Monday of these months.

The board will next meet at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Town Hall.