I hope you stayed dry during Hurricane/Tropical Storm Michael. I was looking over the summary from last month’s Council meeting and noted there was a lot of discussion about the upcoming Hurricane Florence. In less than a month, we’ve had two hurricanes, and three since May. We will dry out some day. We were thankful for the hearty crowd who came out for the meeting.
Here are the highlights of the meeting:
- Public Forum questions/comments included:
- Bill Hollins, Shenandoah Terrace, spoke about the menace we’re facing in Montreat in the form of pampas grass, also known as Chinese Silvergrass. Although many people use it as an ornamental grass in their landscaping, it is an extremely invasive plant. It spreads easily, and thus you may see it along many Montreat roadsides. It is also very difficult to eradicate. Martha Campbell joined Bill saying there are many native grasses that could be used instead of pampas grass. See the Landcare website or contact Martha directly.
- There were several questions about when roads and shoulders will be repaired. Town Administrator Alex Carmichael and Public Works Director Barry Creasman stated that all road issues have been investigated and a repair list by priority has been established. Many of the issues require assistance from other authorities, making scheduling a challenge. But all roads will be repaired.
- Montreat College announced two upcoming events. The annual Cyber Security Conference will be held at Montreat Nov. 2, with more than 300 attendees expected. And, the annual Christmas Concert is scheduled for December 1. Everyone is invited to attend this highly anticipated event.
- Alex reported that Hurricane Michael dumped much rain and whipped the wind through Montreat, just as Florence did last month. And, in both cases, we were prepared. We did lose four trees in the most recent storm. To worsen matters, we are still dealing with the ravages of Alberto in May.
- The Commission discussed the pros and cons of moving town elections to even numbered years. Alex presented a summary paper outlining the issue, including the Town saving money by doing so. But there are downsides, including potential lower participation rates and the effect of partisan elections upon our non-partisan election. The Council will continue researching and discussing the matter.
- The Commission passed a motion to hold a Public Hearing on the zoning of the new Town Hall property at the November 8th Board of Commissioners regular meeting, an action that is required before development can begin on the new Town Hall.
- The Commission also passed a motion to accept a bid of $111,000 for one of the Florida Terrace lots, which automatically begins an “upset bid” process. If there are no other bids within 10 days, the bid will be accepted. One lot remains to be sold.
- The Commission also discussed accepting private donations for public purposes. It is legal to do so, but certain considerations need to be resolved. Alex will research the subject and submit findings to the Commissioners.
- During Commissioner Communications, Commissioner Widmer encouraged everyone to come to the Town Hall Design Input Session on Monday, Oct. 15 at 4:30 in the Walkup Building. He also asked that everyone complete the online survey about the Town Hall. Commissioner Lentz gave an update on progress regarding the address issue. Progress will be in small gains. For example, although there were fears that Montreaters would not be able to obtain their NC Real ID, Alice was successful in her recent application and explained how she did it. She will continue to plan for and work on this important issue.Please let me know if you have any questions on what was discussed or anything else for that matter. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 828/669-3852. I hope to see you at the Public Input Session on Monday, October 15.
Again, thank you for your trust in us,
Mayor Tim Helms on behalf of the Town Council
Here is a listing of the formal actions taken by the Commission in addition to those mentioned above:
- Approved meeting minutes of the September 13 Town Council meeting, but deferred the September 13 Public Forum minutes for corrections.
- Approved a special meeting on Oct. 24 at 4:00pm to approve a contract for the Design-Build contract with Sineath Construction.
- Ratified a contract with Caldwell Drilling for $8,700 for emergency well repairs
- Ratified a contract with Wheeler Grading for $12,475 for Calvin Trail culvert repairs due to Hurricane Alberto
- Authorized staff to issue a request for qualifications for engineering services for the conversion of the Texas Road bridge to a pedestrian bridge
- Authorized Alex to execute an Urban and Community Grant Program agreement for a grant to complete the tree inventory begun earlier this year.
- Approved a budget amendment to reclass $5,000 in funds from Salary Contingency to Contracted Services
- Approved a budget amendment to establish the creation of the special revenue fund for donations to Landcare
- Amended the salary step plan to assign the Finance Officer a grade of 18
- Extended an offer of employment to Jeff Davis as Reserve Police Officer
- Extended an offer of employment to Darlene Carrasquillo as Finance Officer