Mayor’s Meeting Summary of the January 12, 2023 Town Council Meeting

Greetings Montreaters,

It was another rainy Town Council Meeting night. Despite the rain, the Council, staff, and approximately nine guests convened for the Public Forum and Council meeting. My summary follows below. You can read the complete official meeting minutes in next month’s agenda packet. Or if you would like to view the meeting recording, CLICK HERE.

Public Forum

  • Philip Arnold, resident and volunteer member of the Audit Committee, asked about the status of hiring a new finance director. Interim Town Manager Ben Blackburn responded that a new finance director has been hired and will begin on February 1. Rachel Eddings has served in an interim capacity for the past month. Rachel was introduced during the Council meeting.
  • Mary Standaert provided some historical perspective on Gaither Hall and its importance to the history of Montreat. She expressed concern about Montreat College’s decision to remove the original chestnut pews from Graham Chapel and replace them with more flexible seating. She wants the college to reconsider removing the pews.
  • I brought attention to the new podium and thanked Commissioner Widmer who made it for the Town.

Council Meeting

  • After I opened the meeting, I thanked Margaret Bauer, Robin Melvin, Nickie Otto, Lynn Gilliland, and Lolly HIghtower for their leadership in adding seasonal cheer with the decorations on the railing at Lake Susan and the lights on the Ranger hut. I also thanked Mayor Pro Tem Blake for arranging meetings between the Town Council and Buncombe County Commissioners to discuss funding issues. Working with local and state government leaders is a valuable use of time.
  • Under Public Comments, Mary Standaert referenced her earlier remarks about concern for removing the pews from Graham Chapel and commented that during the break between the Public Forum and the Council meeting, she was informed that the college has sold all the pews in the chapel. She still regrets their decision.
  • Under New Business
    • I introduced Jordan Jackson with the NC Rural Water Association who then presented an Award of Achievement to Water Department employee Jarod McIntosh on behalf of the Town. Montreat prepared and submitted a Wellhead Protection Plan, which is voluntary and requires much effort, especially for a small town like Montreat. Jordan congratulated Jarod and the Town.
    • The Council voted to appoint me as the voting delegate to the 2023-2024 North Carolina League of Municipalities.
    • The Council voted to update signature authority on the Town’s bank accounts at Truist Bank. Currently approved signatories are Town Clerk Angela Murphy, Interim Town  Manager Ben Blackburn, Police Chief David Arrant, myself, and Commissioner Kitty Fouche.

  • In Commissioners’ Communications:
    • Mayor Pro Tem Blake:
      • Informed everyone that the Landcare Committee’s Bearwise Sub-Committee has been working hard to have Montreat qualified as a BearWise community.
      • Announced the League of Municipalities’ Towns and State Dinner in Raleigh on February 22 and hopes Council members will attend.
      • Thanked PW Director Barry Creasman and staff for their work in restricting parking on Appalachian Way, protecting Town and private property.
    • Commissioner Widmer:
      • Informed everyone that the Land of Sky Metropolitan Planning Organization, which focuses on transportation needs and plans for our region, is seeking public input on the draft ’24-’33 transportation plan. To provide your thoughts and opinions, takethe survey by CLICKING HERE.
      • Thanked the Public Works staff for installing new signs on Texas Road Spur and Texas Road Extension indicating “Children at Play” and commented that it is great to see such signs in Montreat neighborhoods.

We are looking forward to a positive 2023. Your encouragement goes a long way in making it so, and we thank you. If you have any questions or comments, please write me at [email protected] or call me at 828/669-3852.

Mayor Tim Helms for the Town Council