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NCDOT Gifts Dublin by Remedying the Ongoing Highway 87 Problem

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by Blake Proctor

Mayor Darryl Dowless called the March Dublin Commission meeting to order at 6pm Thursday evening with a bare minimum quorum, as Commissioner Jeff Smith was excused absent.

The Mayor provided the invocation, and the minutes were approved post haste. As there were neither guests nor Citizen Input, the Board dug into a tempting banquette of business.

The first course of canapés was the ongoing challenge of getting 2nd Street closed, a matter that has been on and off the table for several months.

Town Attorney Whitley Ward still cannot access the Register of Deeds office to locate the proper plat maps that will ensure a proper legal description for the closing document. Until that occurs, the matter is stalled.

The tastiest of hors d’oeurves, which actually became the evening’s entrée, were offered when Mayor Dowless read a March 1st letter from NCDOT District Engineer Kenneth Clark, PE, regarding a solution to the problems at the 6700 block of Albert Street, NC Highway 87.

The correspondence stated in part, “I am writing to inform you that the Department will take care of both repairs [the NC Highway 87 sinkhole, and the Town’s drainage culvert maintenance at that site – Ed.] simultaneously.”

Mr. Clark continued, “This will result in a smooth coordinated work effort that will minimize the number of days NC87 will have to be under a lane closure to the travelling public.”  He concluded by saying, “Please consider this our gift to you and not a precedent for how future utility repairs will be handled in Dublin.”

Public Works Director Jonathan Ward expanded on the matter with the explanation that he had met with NCDOT personel who determined, first, that the joints in the Town’s storm drain at that location had separated, causing the water damage; second, that the “sinkhole” had not penetrated under the driving surface of the highway; and finally, that, while the pavement dips slightly at that location, the base is indeed solid.

The Mayor asked Town Clerk Ashley Matthews to prepare a letter of true appreciation for his signature in response to Mr. Clark’s letter, and DOT’s correction of the problem to everyone’s satisfaction.

With sated satisfaction, the Commission then turned its attention to a dessert of more mundane matters:

Unanimously approved were a budget amendment to account for additional revenues; a resolution to adopt the annual state-mandated Local Water Supply Plan; and, a resolution to support naming the bridge spanning the Reedy Meadow Swamp in memory of Fire Lieutenant Ronald P. Allen Jr.

The Board then awarded the contract for this year’s Powell Bill streets project to Hickman Utilities, Inc, of Bladenboro, the low bidder at $18,825. The contract for this work will be approved at the April 1st meeting.

Ms. Mathews presented the previous quarter’s Fair Housing Activities Report for the ongoing Infrastructure Community Development Block Grant: The only activity required was the posting of Fair Housing Posters in both English and Spanish.

On a request by Ms. Matthews, the Commission approved advertizing for the collection of delinquent 2020 property taxes.

In the matter of the donation of the 1989 GMC pumper, it is Town Attorney Ward’s legal opinion that the donation need not be advertized; all that is needed is posting a donation notice on the Town Hall bulletin board and the VFD building for five days. A resolution for the transfer of title to the Lisbon Volunteer Fire Station will be approved at the April 1st meeting.

Ms. Matthews announced that a new state utilities assessment program has been undertaken by the Local Government Commission (LGC) and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to identify potentially distressed water and sewer systems.

Of the 491 municipal utility systems in North Carolina, 118 are possibly or actually at risk, including Dublin and other Bladen County towns. Developmental funding may be made available, but at this time the program has just moved from the system assessment phase. Additional information will be forthcoming.

Commissioner David Hursey noted that mosquitoes are already out. It was agreed that this was due to both the inordinate rainfall and the unseasonably warm winter.

In his Department Report, Mr. Ward informed the Board that all of the mosquito chemical had recently been recalled for deficiencies, ad he will not be able to spray until a replacement supply has been received.

He also stated that the lift station degreaser he had been approved to buy was not working, and there is now a block of grease a foot down and a foot thick in the lift station. He will monitor and come back to the Board if necessary.

There were no Streets or Sanitation Reports, and Commissioner David Kirby stated that the ground was too saturated by rainwater for any recreational activity.

Fire Chief Pete Batten reminded the Commission that, while additions have been made to the original firehouse, there have been no major repairs to the Station since the building was put up in 1987.

He informed the Board that leaks in the roof will be repaired, insulated skylights will be installed, insulation will be replaced in the walls as needed, and the exterior will get a new coat of paint. They were considering gray walls, red trim and leaving the doors white. The total cost of this project is estimated to be $21,000.

There being no further business to take on, Mayor Dowless called for a motion, and the meeting adjourned at 6:44pm.

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