PEMBROKE — The Town Council got an earful on Monday from a resident who criticized the leadership in the town government and the Police Department.
Gary C. Strickland’s deep voice boomed across the council chambers as he addressed the “chain of command” in the town, at times waving his arms, then placing his hands on the podium and leaning toward the council.
“Was it just me or all of the discussion that you had about what (Police Chief Frank Hernandez) wanted, we never once heard Allen Dial or anybody else mention the citizens?” he said referring to an earlier agenda item. “You know what it was about? M-O-N-E-Y.”
Strickland, of Maynor Street, expressed frustration with the police response to a recent incident during which he awoke one night to find a man breaking into his truck.
“I come out on the porch with my pistol, and I thought he’d seen me and run off. He shoots at me with a .357, slams into the refrigerator right beside me,” he said. “… The guy shot at me. They (the police) come out there and what do they want? My telephone number, and they got that.”
Strickland alleged that no other action was taken besides the officers taking his phone number. He also said that complaints about people riding ATVs near his home at night have not been addressed.
“You have to have responsible leadership, and it doesn’t stop at Frank. Frank gets his cue from the gentlemen sitting up there,” he said, criticizing the council for not selecting a replacement for the late Councilman Robert Williamson “because everybody’s trying to get their man in to go along with them.”
“The sad thing is, the sum total of our problems — I said it was at your doors, it’s not — it lies at ours, Mayor,” he said. “We’re the people that keep electing the same folks. Maybe we will get embarrassed enough that we will make some changes. We will see next election.”
Mayor Milton Hunt responded: “I assure you all of us have a genuine concern about the safety of our citizens.”
In other action on Monday, the council:
— Heard a presentation of the 2012-2013 budget from interim Town Manager Marie Moore, who said that the town’s budget of $5.28 million would include a 3 percent cost of living increase. The tax rate of 64 cents per $100 worth of propety would remain the same. The council said a public hearing on the town’s budget for June 25, which will also serve as the council’s July meeting.
— Approved a contract with the Wooten Company for water and sewer repairs on standby pumps and Seventh Street water lines, which will be paid for by a $600,000 Clean Water Management Trust Fund grant, of which the town must match $150,000.
— Approved an amendment to the town’s Auxiliary Procedures and Policy ordinance to require that auxiliary police officers be qualified in Field Training Officer and Basic Law Enforcement Training. According to Hernandez, auxiliary officers who aren’t qualified aren’t allowed to carry handguns or drive patrol cars.
— Approved a letter of non-prejudice for Locklear, Locklear and Jacobs, which would like to open an office in the former hardware store located at 113 W. Third St.
— Heard from Landa Gaddy on a program designed to help solve “family issues” facing youth in Robeson County. The issues are junk food, obesity, poor habits and lack of goals, she said.
— Approved a tax adjustment for the Lumbee Nation Tribal programs. The council voted in April that buildings owned by the tribe are tax exempt, but the taxes on two buildings on Union Chapel Road that the Tribe owns and has been renting out will be put back on the books.
— Set a public hearing date of June 25 for two people, Angela Revels and Maggie Mercer, who each own land on Second Street that they would like to have re-zoned from residential to commercial.
— Authorized Rhonda Locklear, supervisor of wastewater treatment plants, to send the findings of a proposed corrective action plan to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and The Pantry, parent company of Kangaroo. The corrective action plan is for the removal of contamination from the site of the Kangaroo gas station on West Third Street, which was destroyed by an electrical fire in November. Consultants for Kangaroo have proposed a plan to remove the contamination, but Locklear said at a meeting in May that the town should have a consultant look over the plan.
— Approved an amendment to the town’s computer gaming ordinance to change the definition of what is considered a church and modify language that said there had to be 150 feet from the front door of a gaming establishment to the front door of a school, day care or church. “I put in some other ways that a church may be defined,” Town Attorney Gary Locklear said. “… I took out ‘main entrance to main entrance’ and added ‘property to property.’”
— Heard from Catherine Brooks, who complained about stormwater drains on her street.
— Heard from Mitch Lowry, who announced that the fourth annual Pembroke bicycle ride will be on June 30.