ST. PAULS — Mayor Buddy Westbrook told the St. Pauls Board of Commissioners at its Thursday meeting that the town has won a $50,000 grant that it hopes to parlay into additional money.
The town applied for the Talent Enhancement Capacity Building grant, a Community Development Block Grant, in January. It will help the town pay for the application process for other grants through the North Carolina Department of Commerce.
Adrian Lowery, the town’s representative to the Lumber River Council of Governments, told the board at its January meeting that there is not much competition for the grant that is awarded on a “first-come, first-serve basis.”
Westbrook said he wasn’t sure what other grants the town would chase first.
Also on Thursday, the board followed the Planning Board’s recommendation to deny Ronald Smith’s request for a conditional-use permit that he wants for a commercial use on East Blue Street property that is in a Residential zone.
Jerry Quick, a Planning Board member, said after the meeting that the recommendation was based on the concerns of Smith’s neighbors, who had filled the town’s meeting room to oppose the permit.
“What’s to stop the next person from wanting one, and then another and another one?” he said. “If you do it for one person, you have to do it for everyone. … We want to be fair to all the residents.”
In other action, the board:
— Approved a $1,315.20 tax refund for Warehouse Leasing LLC after a county re-evaluation lowered the tax value of a building from $423,800 to $204,600. Westbrook said that the devaluation was based on the removal of several pieces of machinery.
— Heard from Tommy Hall, who praised the town’s Public Works Department for trimming weeds on Second Street, a concern he had previously taken to the town. He also told the board that promotional materials about the town were flying off the shelves at Interstate 95 welcome centers and the Days Inn on Broad Street, and he was working to keep them stocked.
— Heard from Commissioner Ghee Johnson, who praised the Public Works Department for its work, saying “everything looks excellent … from cutting the trees to trimming the grass … I know it’s taxing on you but it looks good.”
— Again heard from Johnson, who told the board that a resident complained that the town’s code enforcement officer, Frances Stayton, had “talked so nasty to him” over an alleged code violation that his heart monitor had alerted his doctors at Duke Medical Center. The board later went into a closed session to discuss the matter.
— Heard from Quick, who spoke during the public comment period to voice his displeasure over the county’s justice system, saying that a town resident who has been in several accidents should be kept off of the town’s roads.
“Is it going to take a human life for him to realize that he needs to be off the road?” he said.
— Talked at length about possibly declaring a home on the corner of Fourth and Armfield streets a public nuisance, with Police Chief Tommy Hagens saying that there are “ladies of the night” who hang out on the streets and nearby service stations.
“This is new — it’s something we’ve never had to deal with before,” he said.
— Approved a $2,000 contract with Jerry Hall to remove two trees on West Broad Street. The trees have to be removed from a resident’s yard in order for the town to get the easement for a new sidewalk. The town also authorized the Public Works department to remove two Bradford Pears on East Broad Street.
— Approved a letter of recognition for Willie Stewart, a soldier with ties to St. Pauls who was awarded a Purple Heart after being injured in Afghanistan. The letter will be signed by the mayor and commissioners and mounted on a wood plaque.
“It’s the least we can do for all he’s been through,” Westbrook said.
Abbi Overfelt works for Civitas Media as the editor of The St. Pauls Review and The Red Springs Citizen.