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The Elizabethtown Town Council held their annual budget and planning retreat at Cape Fear Vineyard and Winery on Monday and discussed a variety of topics.

Elizabethtown Police Chief Tony Parrish spoke about the police department and gave summary of the past year. He said there are currently 17 sworn positions and one K-9 position within the police department.

One vacancy for an administrative assistant was reported by the Chief. Chief Parrish said he expects to fill the vacant administrative assistant position soon.

He also gave a crime summary for the past year as well.  Chief Parrish said that beginning in April of 2106, an aggressive traffic enforcement  program was under taken. This program included such things as traffic check points throughout the town, patrolling residential neighborhoods, and concentrating on the downtown business district late at night.

According to Parrish the local police department is divided into two divisions: Patrol and Criminal Investigations Division.

Parrish noted that breaking and entering  cases were down by 46 percent, business breaking and entering cases were down by 40 percent, and motor vehicle breaking and entering cases were down by 50 percent.  Chief Parrish told the board that only 196 crimes were reported in 2016 compared to 262 crimes which were reported in 2015.

He also listed several accomplishments for the department. They include:

*implementing a new promotions process

*new uniforms

*creating a Facebook page

* and updating the department’s webpage with a new look and providing more information to the public about the department.

*the department has transitioned to new Glock firearms at no cost to the town.

*by participating in the Governor’s Highway Safety Program the department was able to obtain 5 new Golden Eagle Radar Units and 1 Alco Sensor at no cost to the department.

In the budget request, Chief Parrish said the department is requesting an additional $16,332 be added to the budget for the purchase of the following items:

*Six bullet proof vests;

*Replace four in-car computers;

*One in-car radio for newly added position;

*replacing one hand-held radio that was damaged.

Elizabethtown Fire Chief Nick West updated the board regarding the fire department’s activities from the past year.  Chief West said that over the past 10-15 years, regulations have increased, documentation requirements are higher and the training requirements have increased.

He said the department has applied for FEMA grants to purchase new air packs. The department has some air packs that are 14 years old and are in need of replacement.

West told the board the new fire truck is exceeding expectations.

He said the fire department personnel have embarked on painting the fire hydrants around town. West explained the paint on the fire hydrants serves as a color code based on the amount of water flow of the fire hydrant. 

West also discussed an alternative to painting the fire hydrants. He said there is a reflective colored ring that can be purchased and placed on the fire hydrants. The colors of the rings also serve as a color code to alert the fire fighters of the water flow for the fire hydrant.

Chief West said if the Board decides to move to the color coded ring, then the department can go back to painting the fire hydrants red and placing the rings on the caps instead.

In his budget request, Chief West said the fire department is asking to be allowed to replace two apparatus with one truck. The two trucks which are proposed to be replaced are each about 25 years old, according to West.

The proposed new truck would be an engine and a tanker in one on a commercial chassis. West said the proposed new truck would double as a pumper and a tanker and is in $400,000 price range.

He said the department is also introducing technology into its fleet of fire trucks with the addition of computers.

Chief West told the board the department is also looking to increase its rescue capabilities. He said the department is attempting to become rescue certified. In order to be eligible to receive rescue grants, a department has to be certified as medium or heavy rescue according to West.

Recently the department held a training session and had six fire departments with a total of 36 firemen training on extrication.

Planning Technician, Billie Hall, told the board that the NC STEP Core team consists of Michael Davis, President of First Bank, Bladen Community College President Dr William Findt, Sondra Guyton with Bladen Community College, Elizabethtown Town Manager Eddie Madden, and Bladen Community College Small Business Center Director Todd Lyden, and Hall. She said the Core team has spent the past year and one-half training and interviewing local business owners to learn what their needs are.

She said currently, staff are working to create promotional materials for the program and working on outreach to the community.

Hall said there are different ways the NC STEP program can assist businesses. She said they can help them to start new businesses, help businesses expand, and such. The town has also set up a revolving loan program.

Next, representatives with W. K. Dickson spoke about the lighting for the Phase II Street Scape. They recommended a tear dropped shaped light on a pole. They said by going to this type of fixture, with the taller pole, the number of poles needed would be 19. The new lights that are proposed in the Phase II  Street Scape will be LED lights but they will be on a taller pole than those that are located in the downtown. They also said the newer LED lights give off better light than older model LED lights.

They also had looked at the lighting at the town hall and studied replacing them as well.

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