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By Blake Proctor

The Dublin Board of Commissioners met on Thursday, September 3rd, to what was a COVID-inspired full house: In attendance were representatives from the Bladen County Board of Elections, citizens wishing to be heard, and a prospective permanent employee, as well as two members of the media.

With all Commissioners in attendance, Mayor Darryl Dowless called the meeting to order at 6 p.m. and gave the invocation; minutes from the previous meeting were then approved.

First on the agenda was Lynda Brisson of 57 Hursey Street, who has had major problems caused by the installation of new water limes at her residence; the new service line to her house has come loose, resulting in sand entering her lines.

The Town agreed to replace her kitchen faucet, and Public Works Director Jonathan Ward assured her that the contractor will be placing everything back to preconstruction condition when they have completed the project, including Brisson’s service line problem. Town Attorney Whitley Ward provided Brisson with a waiver of liability for her to sign so she could be reimbursed for the faucet damage.

The Commissioners next discussed resolving roadblocks with Board of Elections Executive Director Christopher Williams and Wanda Monroe for the use of the Community Building in future elections. Conferring among themselves and with Williams, the Dublin board agreed to provide internet service for the Elections Board’s use, to lower the daily rental rate from $200 to $100 for elections, and to charge only for election day. Williams, in turn, agreed to install voting machines last thing on the day before elections and remove them first thing the day after.

On the continuing issue with the NC Department of Transportation concerning town street signs being attached to state stop signs, Commissioner Jeff Smith informed the Board that he has contacted NCDOT officials, but that they had not yet gotten back to him.

DPW Director Ward updated the Board on the progress of the CDBG water line construction informing them that the Hursey Street main has been completed, the Davis Street and Fourth Street lines are in, but not yet connected, and the Bethel Church main has been laid.

The Board quickly approved a request by Dublin First Baptist Church for a two-month extension of the street closure for the months of September and October for their outdoor services and activities.

Just as quickly, on a motion by Commissioner David Kirby and a second by Commissioner David Hursey, the Board adopted a resolution approving the Hazard and Mitigation Plan proposed by the County.

Town Clerk Ashley Matthews updated the Board about the HVAC deficiency and associated mold problems at Town Hall. She informed the Board that, following a study of the associated problems, replacing the entire air conditioning unit was the only viable solution. The Board unanimously approved contracting with Cape Fear Heating & Cooling of Elizabethtown at a cost of $9,600 to install a new system and abate the mold problem.

With little discussion, the Board approved the retention of LKC Engineering out of Aberdeen to perform the engineering on the Baker Street Sewer Outfall project.

Ward reminded the Board that it was again time to purchase a new riding lawn mower; bids have been received, and the Board awarded the purchase to Thompson’s Small Engine Repair for $8,860.

He also informed the Board that there is an electric problem at the new lift station. He said the problem cannot be totally attributed to the contractor, Carmite Construction, but mainly lies with engineers WithersRavenel. There followed a short discussion of the lack of current water line maps; it was suggested that the Town’s old engineers, The Wooten Company, be approached to determine if they had such maps.

Ward presented temporary part-time employee Dustin Matthews to the Board. He requested that with all the work going on in Dublin, he be allowed to transition Matthews to permanent part-time status. It was quickly agreed to.

In a last item of Public works business, Ward reminded the Board that following Hurricane Florence, the Town provided mosquito spraying services to the Town of Tar Heel at $100 per spray. Tar Heel has now requested that Dublin provide this service on a continuing basis. Following an in-depth discussion of the costs involved with providing this service long-term, the Board concluded that in order to ensure breaking even, $150 per spraying would need to be charged.

Fire Chief Pete Batten informed the Board that now that the Town has a new fire truck, the old 1989 tanker truck needs to be surplused, and he is requesting permission to sell it. He said the department could probably get $10,000 to $15,000 for it. The Board approved the sale of this vehicle with a minimum $10,000 price; however, if another local department was in need of a tanker truck, the Town would provide it at no charge.

The Board discussed an off-agenda item concerning the lack of participation in the current Census count levels in Bladen County and more particularly, in Dublin itself, where fewer than 40% of the population has been counted. Since so many grant and other assistance programs are at least partially population-based, the Town and County both stand to lose much revenue. It has been computed that for every uncounted person, the Town stands to lose $1,600 each year in Federal and State assistance.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 7:03 p.m.

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