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By: Robert G. Hester
Bladenboro Town Commissioners voted to keep One-Stop Voting and Absentee by Mail voting in the municipal elections later this year.  In the Open Forum, Zane Singletary, Bladenboro resident and recently elected chairman of the Bladen County Democratic Party, ask the board to allow the voting.  He pointed out that a statewide referendum may be on the ballot. Gov. McCrory has proposed a referendum.  Singletary said if the statewide issue was on the ballot it would likely be confusing for local voters not having an opportunity to cast an early ballot on the issue.  He said over the years, about 500 Bladenboro voters had voted early.
The Board agreed and approved leaving the elections as they have been.  East Arcadia and Tar Heel have reportedly voted to disallow early voting due to budget concerns.
In other news, Kelsey Edwards, Bridger Memorial Library Director, informed the board that the county library system would be updating public computers at the local library in the near future.  She asked the town board to consider approval of installing a panic button system.  She said most of the time there were members of the public in the library, as many as ten at the time, however, at other times there could be only one person working, and if assistance was needed, the system would be helpful.  The cost of the system and installation would be nearly $300.  The county will pay a $24.95 monthly service fee for a period of three (3) years.  Commissioners approved her request for $300.
Melanie Hester, Town Administrator, asked the board to consider holding a public hearing for the purpose of amending the Minimum Housing Standards Ordinance to include Enforcement and Due Process Procedure before she began enforcement.  Her request was approved.
The Board approved an Audit Contract for 2014-2015.  The cost is the same as the previous 2 years.
Hester also explained a new billing system for utilities.  She proposed a single bill that includes the monthly charge, the deadline and the late fee if the charges are not paid on time.  According to Hester, no second bill would be sent.
Commissioners approved a contract with Carolina Clearing to grind debris at the landfill.  “We cannot put it off,” according to Hester.  The Board approved her request.
The Board also approved proposed changes at McLean Park related to a pier at the lake and with shade from nearby trees,  the cost of a shed could be less and there would always be shade regardless of the time of day, according to the Administrator..
The Board received bids from 13 individuals for surplus property.  The high bids included:
1996 Mercury….Roger Merritt bid $989.99
1996 Ford Ranger pickup…Roger Merritt $966.99
1990 Ford Ranger pickup…Gene Norton $525.00
Air Compressor…Travis Walters $750.00
Paving Roller….Jimmy Brisson $251.00
Finishing Mower…Michael Baxley $250.00
Hudson Trailer….Jimmy Brisson $301.00
The board approved the sale of each to the high bidder.
Commissioners voted to hold two more public hearings at their June meeting.  In addition to the Housing Standards Ordinance, they will hold a public hearing on the budget and a Hazard Mitigation Plan that will make the town eligible for FEMA funding if there was to be storm damage.
The board also approved the consideration of a Resolution in support of Connect NC Bond Referendum proposed by Governor McCrory.
Finally,  each commissioner recognized the good number of local residents attending the meeting and expressed their appreciation for their attendance.  The town staff and department heads received thanks for their efforts as well. 
Commissioners voted to suspend the meeting until Thursday, May 21st at 7 p.m. when they will have budget workshop at Town Hall.
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