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By Joy Warren

Eddie Madden, project manager for the White Lake Multi-Use Path, provided an update during the Tuesday evening meeting of the Town of White Lake Board of Commissioners.

Excavation work and laying of stone has started along the N.C. 53 and part of U.S. 701. Construction crews began installation of pilings for the bridge that has been ordered. In addition, the fitness equipment and benches have been ordered.

Madden asked the Board to authorize him to submit a pre-application to the Recreation Trails Program to extend the current trail across property owned by the Waterford Property Owners Association, which will serve as the connection to future phases of the multi-use path project along N.C. 53. The estimated project cost is $99,115 with a grant match of $24,336. If approved, the local match of 25 percent must be committed by the Town and would be appropriated from fund balance appropriations or can be provided by other parties. The pre-application is due March 15th. If approved, the full application would be due by August 2. The Board approved the pre-application for the RTP Grant.

The Board heard an update from Mayor Goldston Womble on the Lake Water Restoration Project. Dr. Diane Lauritsen provided a report from the Hydrilla meeting held March 4. NC DWR Aquatic Weed Control staff made visits to the lake to look for Hydrilla on two occasions. They did not find any tubers or plants.

N.C. State personnel visited the lake to look for Hydrilla and found one small sprig near the center of the lake. This suggests that the weed may not be very well established in the lake, and that it may have been affected by the lower pH levels after the alum treatment.

The groups will continue to monitor for the aquatic weed.

The Bald Head Island Conservancy indicated to Womble that their final report is awaiting data analysis from their core samplings that were completed in January.

In other administrative matters, the Board approved Utility Releases, and Tax Releases; approved clean up of old tax records and refund tax records as provided by the Bladen County Tax Collector; approved renewal of Aclara Premier Maintenance agreement for 2019; and approved agreement with VD3, Inc., for backup services for accounting.

Womble announced two “Lake” Water Cleanup Days for Saturday, May 11 and Saturday, September 14. The community is encouraged to participate during these days to clean up trash and debris in the Lake.

In anticipation of the White Lake Water Festival Parade on May 18, the Board approved an ordinance to close White Lake Drive from 10 a.m. to noon.

Other resolutions present and adopted were Local Government Agencies General Records Retention and Disposition Schedule and a resolution in opposition of Senate Bill 179 and House Bill 278 Parity For First Responders.

The Board also heard a request from Womble to oppose the Resolution Supporting Local Control of School Calendars. The Bladen County Board of Education, at its March 11 meeting, adopted a resolution requesting the N.C. General Assembly to restore local control of school calendars to local boards of education.

Womble stated that “changing the traditional school calendar (beginning after August 26th and ending no later than June 10) to a year-round calendar would be extremely detrimental to the economy of White Lake as well as that of Elizabethtown. Hundreds of teenagers as well as adult educators are employed during the summer at the Lake. Any changes that would shorten the summer season would seriously affect tourism.”

The Board authorized Womble to draft and execute a resolution opposing the change from the “traditional” school calendar to a “year-round” school calendar and also opposing restoring local control of school calendars to local boards of education.

The Board adjourned Tuesday’s meeting to Tuesday, March 19 at 6:00 p.m. for the purpose of holding the fiscal year 2019-20 budget retreat.