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UPDATED: Bullyboy NCDOT Pushes Another Bladen Town Around

By Blake Proctor

You see it in schoolyards all over the world: The school bully beats up the smallest kid at recess; when he gets away with that, he moves on to bigger and bigger kids, until he rules the playground.

Looks like the same kinda thing happens in the gummint schoolyard as well – first Tar Heel, now Dublin. Just as with Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue,” perhaps this bully simply doesn’t like being called DOT.

Though only a single item on Dublin’s agenda Thursday evening, it was the most disagreeable.

With Commissioner David Hursey excused absent, Mayor Darryl Dowless called the December 3rd meeting to order at 6 pm, still being held in the Community Building, thanks to the Wuhanfluenza.

Following the Mayor’s invocation and the approval of the minutes, the Board went into a very quick closed session to discuss personnel. Re-entering open session, and with no citizen input nor old business, the Commission dug into a shortlist of new business.

Christmas bonuses for employees was the first item up, of only for a formal vote, since discussion had already occurred in the closed session; on a motion by Commissioner David Kirby and a second by Commissioner Jeff Smith, unanimous approval was given to provide each full-time employee a $500 bonus this Christmas, with part-timers receiving $250 bonuses.

Town citizen Clifton Ford, a resident living along NC Highway 87, the Town’s and region’s main north-south corridor south and east from Fayetteville, has approached the Town to complain of stormwater runoff from the highway, inundating his yard and flooding under his house; this has been causing havoc with his foundation, and he needs a resolution to the problem.

The Commissioners and Public Works Director Jonathan Ward have all told him that the Town has been attempting to rectify the situation for months if not years; yet, NCDOT has ignored all their pleas for assistance.

Mr. Ward explained to this reporter that the problems probably started all the way back in 2004-2006, when NC87 was widened. Evidently, the drainage system designed to control the increased runoff was badly engineered or poorly constructed from the start, but these shortcomings have become more evident since 2016, with the back-to-back 500-year floods caused by Hurricanes Matthew and Florence.

Sinkholes have appeared on the edges of the highway of both northbound and southbound outside lanes, and are beginning to erode under the pavement itself; it is apparent DOT is aware of the problem, if only in the District office, because DOT vehicles have been seen moving into the inside lanes at those spots, evidently in order to avoid them.

Asking, begging, pleading, cajoling DOT have not worked, and the Town’s frustration level is at astronomical levels.

So the Town recently reached out to State Representative William Brisson, who, according to reports, then contacted DOT officials in Raleigh, who kinda-sorta got the District off their duffs. Apparently, a local DOT crew drove by and dumped a few shovels-full of gravel in the sinkholes as specified in the work order.

Dumping crush and run into the sinkholes and allowing it to settle and harden from the rainwater may have stopped or at least slowed the erosion under the highway; dumping porous gravel in the holes won’t.

This reporter is confident that the work crew radioed their the District office in Whiteville that the work order was completed; Whiteville called the Raleigh office to advise them that the work had been done; and, the Raleigh office then notified Representative Brisson’s staff, “Mission accomplished.” Ain’t bureaucracy just poetry in motion??

In other business, the Town had received a zoning application/variance request from Martin Pleasant and Anna Barnhill of 178 West 5th Street in Town for an accessory building that had already been illegally installed without a permit, and was also in violation of setback regulations.

They are seeking both a permit for “new construction” in order to come into permit compliance, and a zoning variance for the setback. Mayor Dowless made the observation that the application was completely void of information except for the applicants’ names and addresses; he requested that Town Clerk Ashley Matthews contact the applicants for a completed application.

Commissioner Kirby moved that the Board forward the application, once properly completed, to the Planning Board for their review and subsequent recommendations to guide the Commission’s actions on the matter; the motion was seconded by Commissioner Smith and unanimously approved.

Pastor Jason Lee of Dublin First Baptist Church has requested that the Commission again approve the continued closure of that short section of McLean Street immediately behind the church on Sunday mornings in order to afford the church the ability to continue holding their worship services outdoors. Once again, unanimous approval was given.

On Commissioner Reports, Commissioner Smith, noted that the battle to get DOT to do something with NC87 had already been discussed, with no further comment needed; he announced that, other than that, all the Christmas lights have been put up.

Fire Chief Pete Batten informed the Board that the Department has been purchasing supplies, materials, and small pieces of equipment in preparation for the second half of the fiscal year.

Town Clerk Matthews updated the Commission on the Baker Street Sewer Outfall grant project, informing them that the project paperwork had been submitted to the state for their review.

With a smile and a comment that they had finally gotten through a meeting in under a half-hour, Mayor Dowless adjourned the meeting at 6:28 pm.

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