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Bladenboro Board Continues To Consider Water Management Options

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By Sonny Jones

The Bladenboro Board of Commissioners on Monday night approved a motion to seek a two-year contract with Envirolink to manage the town’s water and wastewater system and also approved a resolution for financing outdoor lighting at McLean Park.

The board also went into closed session to interview several candidates for the vacant town clerk/finance officer position. Melanie Hester resigned last month after more than 17 years with the town.

The town is considering a five-year proposal from Envirolink to manage the town’s water and wastewater system at a cost of $65,640 per year based on 1,200 connections and a $118,440 per year offer that includes other water management services.

Board member Lisa Levy asked Town Administrator Oryan Lowry if there was another company that could bid on the project. Lowry said that Envirolink and Clemmons-based SUEZ were the only two companies recommended by the state and that Suez declined to offer a proposal.

Mayor Rufus Duckworth said he had heard “bad reports” about Envirolink, but Lowry said in his conversations with other towns using the company that it had more to do with the operator in place supplied by the company. “We’d have to have an operator willing to work with us.”

The board voted to have Lowry check on a two-year contract with Envirolink. Lowry also told the board that the town would need only the water and wastewater system services from Envirolink and not all of the services in the proposal.

The town is seeking an operator for its water system following Sherry Lanier’s resignation about a year ago. Former sewer plant operator Lynn Brisson has been serving as a part-time ORC.

The town offered a $1,500 per month contract to Brian Stephens to oversee the town’s wastewater treatment operations while the board considers whether to use a private company to run the operation or to continue to run its own system. Stephens has decided not to accept the offer, Lowry said.

Commissioners approved a resolution authorizing the town’s application to Four County Electric for financing the lighting project at McLean Park. The town would have a $125,000, 59-month loan with no interest charges. Part of the application calls for the town to award a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment for the park. The board approved Land Management Group of Wilmington to do the assessment.

Commissioner Levy asked if the town could have board meetings accessed either by phone or video stream for people unable to attend. Currently, there is no such option.

During his administrator’s report, Lowry told the board that he expects a request for a six-month extension on its PARTF grant to be approved by the end of the month. Lowry said the playground equipment has arrived and being installed. Items left to complete at the park are a picnic shelter, roofs for the dugouts and a horseshoe pit.

Lowry also told the board that he will take part in an American Rescue Plan seminar this month about the best ways to use the funding. Bladenboro has received $257,029.49 as half of its America Rescue Plan funding.

The board’s next scheduled meeting is Monday, Nov. 8 at 6 p.m. at Town Hall on Ivey Street.

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