By Erin Smith
The Elizabethtown Town Council held their annual budget and planning retreat at Cape Fear Vineyard and Winery on Tuesday and discussed a variety of topics.
Elizabethtown Police Chief Tony Parrish introduced a new notification system which will be used by the town called CodeRED. The county already uses the system to send out emergency notifications and other information to residents.
Chief Parrish said CodeRED offers an app for mobile users and you can also receive email notifications and calls to your landline. He explained that users of the mobile CodeRED can receive notifications when they travel. Chief Parrish said, for example, if you travel to Nashville and the town puts out a CodeRED alert, your mobile phone will receive the alert for that area.
Chief Parrish said the town conduct a short survey using the CodeRED system. He said the system offers the user the ability to ask simple yes or no questions and provides a space for feed back. The results can be downloaded to a spreadsheet to be reviewed.
The system can also be used to target specific streets or neighborhoods for alerts about changes to your trash pick up schedule or to notify residents on a specific street about a water main break. Chief Parrish said the system can also be used to send small files such as the town’s newsletter, reminders about water bills, and concert announcements.
CodeRED can be utilized in emergency situations as well to issue evacuation orders, to issue alerts regarding police or fire fighting activity, or to alert citizens of weather hazards.
Chief Parrish said the cost to the town for the system is $1,800 per year. Residents can sign up to receive CodeRED alerts on the town’s website. You can select whether to receive emergency alerts or general alerts.
Chief Parrish also told the board the Police Department is researching body warn cameras and grant funding opportunities. He said there is a 50-50 grant available to help with purchase.
“I found video works more in the officer’s favor than not,” said Chief Parrish.
He explained the camera is activated by the officer and the department will establish guidelines regarding their use.
Elizabethtown Fire Chief Nick West updated the board regarding the fire department’s activities from the past year. The fire department has created a mission statement, implemented a Community Risk Reduction Program, and they are installing smoke detectors in residences, and performing fire inspections, along with answering call for service. The department has also implanted a training program and upgraded their apparatus as well as implementing new policies and procedures, implementing new technologies and installing onboard computers on all of the trucks.
Chief West said the department has also improved its response times, earned a FEMA grant for $165,000 to purchase new air packs, and obtained a medium rescue certification is one class short of completing the requirements for a heavy duty rescue certification.
Chief West also said the fire department is upgrading their website and have created a strategic plan for the department.
The board also heard an update from Architect Terry Cox regarding the proposed fire and rescue building on Broad Street. Cox told the board that about 80 percent of the building needs to be demolished and rebuilt. He explained this would be more economical for the town.
Planning Technician Billie Hall, Michael Munford, Chief Parrish and Chief West also presented a strategic plan to the board. The plan encompasses how best to market the town. This includes using the new CodeRED alert system to provide good communication to the town’s residents.
The town debuted a new promotional video that can be utilized to market the town. The commercial video was created by Star Communications. The town is also resigned its website, news letter, and is working to improve their social media presence.
The town has overhauled its newsletter and renamed it “The Bridge.” it will be published twice per year and will include items such as town projects, town festivals and concerts and other events. The news letter will be distributed a variety of ways including placing it in stores, people can request an emailed copy, and copies can be placed in doctor’s offices and other locations.
Munford also said they are working to create a mobile app for the town of Elizabethtown for residents and visitors alike to download to their mobile phones. The board discussed the ability offer advertising to businesses on the app. They also were told there is a possibility of having video on the app as well.
Hall said, for example, the town of Lumberton has an app. In Lumberton’s app there are icons you can click on that will take you to websites for the different businesses that are promoted. She explained this can help the town to promote its businesses to visitors.
Hall also briefly discussed branding. She said it is very important for people to know and understand what it is you are marketing. She has designed a new sticker design for motor vehicles which reads “ETN.”