LUMBERTON — Fairmont Mayor Charles Kemp took a moment on Tuesday to pass the town’s Farmers Festival torch to a new chairman.
“That’s the last time you’re going to want to hug him,” said Carey Pittman, this year’s chairman, as newly-appointed Jane Powell took to the podium and embraced Kemp during the town’s monthly meeting of the Board of Commissioners.
Powell said she had already began work to secure events for next year’s festival and encouraged the board to offer suggestions. She said that one of her main goals was “trying to get the Farmers Festival dance back in Fairmont.” It has been held at the Robeson County Fairgrounds in Lumberton.
Powell then left the podium and hugged the commissioners, telling each she’d be giving them a call.
“He pressured me into this,” Powell said of Kemp as the board members laughed.
“You know I was just kidding earlier, he’ll help you a lot,” Pittman said.
Despite the light-hearted atmosphere, Kemp was quick to remind those in attendance that the festival is serious business to those who look forward to it every year.
“The Farmers Festival is clearly more important than any one individual,” Kemp said. “It takes a lot of people to put it together. There’s some good people that have worked hard at being festival chairpersons over the years, and we’re very fortunate to find people who are willing to serve.”
Also on Tuesday, the board:
— Instructed Linda Vause, town manager, to get more information about repayment of a Community Development Block Grant before closeout documents are signed. The grant, approximately $400,000, provided for the building of a lift station in 2007 that was designed to create infrastructure to support creation of 27 jobs at Harger Lighting. But the company only provided 10 — leaving the town required to pay back about $251,000 to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the salary equivalent of 17 jobs. Vause said she would find out if the town’s liability insurance would cover the payback in part or full. The town is ineligible for any state Department of Commerce grants until closeout documents are signed.
— Instructed Vause to compare costs of replacing or repairing the aging Gertrude Street well with using county water.
— Approved plans for phase 1A of the town’s $1 million sewer system rehabilitation project, funded by a $600,000 North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust grant, a $385,000 loan through United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development, and $15,000 in local funds. The project will repair or replace the town’s oldest sewer lines.
— Was introduced to Beth Hobbs, a finance officer for Lumber River Council of Governments. She will serve as a liaison to the town for the council.