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East Arcadia Council Meets, with COVID-19 and Water Issues on Tap for Discussion

By Blake Proctor

In a quorum-delayed meeting, Mayor Perry Blanks gaveled the regular monthly meeting to order at 7:10pm; only Councilmember Rhonda Hall was not present. Following Mayor Blanks’ invocation, the Board got down to business, quickly dispatching with the normal consent agenda items consisting of August’s meeting minutes and the August Finance Report.

Councilmember Lillian Graham announced that flu shots will be available at Town Hall on October 10th beginning at 10am. Residents are asked to bring proof of insurance with them so they will not be charged.

For the Streets and Roads Report, Councilmember Horace Munn informed the Board that bush hogging was ongoing. He also stated that people are tossing trash out their windows faster than is can be picked up on the sides of the Town’s streets, and said that a volunteer roadside cleanup needed to be scheduled in October or early November.

It was asked if the Town was going to apply for anything more than the original $4,500 the Town requested from the County for State Covid19 reimbursements. Councilmember Munn informed the Board that an initial amended reimbursement request had been submitted to the County.

Therefore, not only were the original funds going to be reimbursed , but an additional $3,000 for masks, hand sanitizer and shields had been requested. Additionally $15,000 has been requested for an air purifier for Town Hall as well as another $1,500 for purifier filters. The total Covid19 assistance requested is $24,000.

Also up for discussion was Governor Cooper’s Executive Order (EO) 142 of May 30th, which extended his EO124 sixty days to July 29th; therefore, the six-month period during which residential water customers must bring their accounts current began on July 30th.

Councilmember Munn averred that many East Arcadians have not paid their water bills since March. The Town will need to recoup these lost revenues, because that money pays to keep the water system operating. Discussions on this recoupment will be ongoing.

A thorny issue arose regarding the Town’s contract to provide water to the Town of Sandyfield, across the county line in Columbus County. East Arcadia evidently got a “bad batch” of chlorine, causing low readings in Sandyfield, who had to completely flush their lines with, of course, water supplied by East Arcadia.

This action resulted in an inordinately high bulk rate bill from East Arcadia. The Sandyfield Commission is requesting first, that East Arcadia make an equitable adjustment their bill; and, second, that the reading not be billed until a resolution is reached between the towns. The possibility of holding a called meeting to appraise the matter, review the contract, and determine responsibility was broached, but no vote was taken.

In a last item of concern, Mayor Blanks spoke about the need to look into internet service for East Arcadia, even if it’s only a localized hotspot at Town Hall. He informed the Board that the State may have a program to assist rural areas throughout the state.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 7:43pm.

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