New government impaneled, immediately gets down to work

First Posted: 1/15/2009

St. Pauls’ Town government got a new face last Thursday night. It appears that St. Pauls’ business community is now about to get a new face as well. St. Pauls might be experiencing a growth spurt.
The Town Board of Commissioners was reconfigured after the oaths of office were administered to Mayor Buddy Westbrook and Commissioners Ghee Johnson and Sandy Cain prior to the December Town Board meeting.
But after the ceremonies, work began and those present learned that new businesses are or might be locating to St. Pauls. These include a Long John Silver’s/Taco Bell Restaurant (next Spring), and ChemCare, an industrial cleaning business that might be locating in the former Butler Plant on Clark Street.
The Town Board also learned that St. Pauls would be getting a recycling center for plastic and aluminum, thanks to the dedication and work of a St. Pauls High School student, Brianna Bake. It will be located in the parking lot behind the businesses in the 200 block of the South side of Broad Street, adjacent to the Police Station lot.
Commissioners also learned that DuPont will be asked to provide the Town and its Emergency response Committee an updated list of all materials that come through St. Pauls on its railroad line spur.
Commissioners also learned that a free state grant (no match from SP) will be used to help turn the town’s “stump dump” into an enterprise site, where compost could be sold to residents, farmers and businesses.
Brian Scott, of Scott and Adams, the town’s auditors, was present at the meeting to deliver the results of the year-end audit. St. Pauls received the highest commendation, an “unqualified opinion.” He praised Town Clerk Lou Espey and her staff, Sonya Johnson, Kay Davis and Edna Muse, and Town Administrator Stuart Turille for being “forthcoming and helpful” during the audit and for the excellent record keeping. While Mr. Scott had only good news concerning the audit, he did point out that the Town’s Fund Balance (cash on hand for emergencies) was at the 37% percent level, which is well below the state average of 65% but well above the state minimum of 8%. He also advised that the Town keep an eye on water rates “to make sure that the rates are at or near market values.”
Commissioners also heard from Richard Davis, who was representing a group of Willoughby Heights subdivision residents. Mr. Davis presented a letter from Veterans Road residents who are asking the Town to rezone property there from RA-20 (Residential/Agricultural) to R-12, which would protect the area from the placement of manufactured homes and set minimum square footage for new homes. The area they asked to be rezoned extends from Young Drive to Highway 20, from Veterans Road to I-95. After a motion by David Ayers, the Town set a Public Hearing date on the issue for January 10.
Commissioners reappointed Buck Terry to the Fireman’s Relief Committee and Elbert Gibson to the ABC Board. Three Planning Board members have terms that are set to expire this month. Frankie Blackmon agreed to serve another term, but Ghee Johnson, who cannot serve because she is now a Commissioner, and Anna Maynor did not choose to be reappointed, had to be replaced. The Board chose Paul Glover to replace Mrs. Maynor and Chris Jackson to replace Mrs. Johnson.
Mr. Turille requested and was granted leave from December 20-26 to go home due to an illness in his family.
The Board moved their next workshop date from December 31 to January 7.
The board also agreed to study landscaping plans for the Town hall building, possibly replacing diseased dogwood trees and possibly replacing Bradford pears trees with evergreens.
The Board learned that the $125,000 remaining from the $1 million grant gift from the old Rocco plant location to St. Pauls years ago will be used as intended, for economic development, specifically for the downtown and the industrial park areas.
Commissioners heard a report from Fire Chief Evans Jackson that work toward  maintaining the department’s ISO rating is progressing, and that the department’s new truck should be here by the inspection date. “We’re in pretty good shape,” he said, “and I don’t see a huge amount of money that we’ll need” (to maintain the current ISO rating, which affects homeowner’s insurance premiums). 
A citizen, George Connors, spoke about an unsightly and illegal car repair business on Brannon Street and Commissioners agreed to check it out.
Mr. Ayers said that he has some concern about off-premises signs, especially the small ones that keep popping up at intersections. These are illegal.
Doris Sutton said that she had received some complaints about Waste Management collecting commercial garbage during the pre-dawn hours and the noise disturbing the neighbors. Commissioners said they would stop this practice.
Mrs. Johnson distributed a copy of the concerns that constituents provided her during her campaign to win a seat on the Town Board, thereby keeping her promise to forward their concerns.
Public Works Director Wayne McDuffie said that a new $11,400 valve will be installed on the filter system at the water plant and that would mean that the plant would have to be shut down for a week in January, but that residents would not see an interruption because the Town would go on county water during that downtime. 

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