BY DEBBIE PAGE
The Troutman Town Council gave unanimous permission for staff to plan for the 16th Annual Troutman Independence Day Parade and fireworks display on July 3. The parade is scheduled for 11 a.m. and the fireworks for full dark, around 9:30 p.m.
Staff is instituting changes in the parade route to accommodate access to businesses, facilitate traffic flow, and reduce staffing needs. The parade will now start from the CATS campus, move down Old Murdock Road, and enter Highway 21, moving south to Troutman Elementary School.
This change will keep the heavily traveled Old Mountain/Murdock Road intersection open and allow access to the Fairgrounds and Food Lion shopping centers during the parade time.
Parade chairman Chuck Gallyon credits the town staff, whom he dubbed the “Troutman Terrifics,” and a great group of community volunteers for making this parade happen again after last year’s cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gallyon expects a big response from both parade entrants and spectators this year. “People want to get out,” he said during Monday’s council meeting.
The parade and fireworks will be conducted in accordance with any executive orders in effect at that time. Cars admitted into the fairgrounds for the fireworks may have to be limited, but Councilman Paul Henkel pointed out that many surrounding areas are available to watch the fireworks while safely distancing, if necessary.
The council gave the go-ahead to contract with the fireworks provider at a cost of $9,000. Town Attorney Gary Thomas advised adding a contract clause to cancel the display and get a refund if executive orders are in effect that force cancellation on July 3.
Town Manager Ron Wyatt promised that the staff will take on the enhanced communication burden of advising the public about any safety or gathering protocols in effect on the parade date. The staff is preparing to address any scenarios that could be in play at that point.
Finance Director Steve Shealy reported to council that sales taxes continue to be strong, up about $13,000 over March of last year. Though he had not gotten March property tax figures from the county yet, Shealy reported that collections had already exceeded the budgeted amount for this fiscal year.
Shealy said third quarter utility sales taxes were down about $4,000 over the same quarter last year. Water and sewer billing for March was also down about $7,000 from the same month last year, but he expects that number to rise swiftly as people begin watering lawns and washing cars and more houses under construction come online.
The meeting was suspended for about 20 minutes so that staff, council, and Troutman police officers could participate in a video segment being shot on the Richardson Greenway in front of Town Hall.
Award-winning Christian county artist and Iredell County native Shellum Cline was in Troutman shooting a music video for his upcoming single “What We Do,” which celebrates and honors the folks behind the scenes who keep communities safe and functioning.
Cline also filmed at local businesses, the Depot, and Troutman Fire and Rescue throughout the day. The video is expected to be played on the CMT network.
Cline’s recently released single from Red Country Records is “God Can,” which is quickly climbing the Christian country charts. To learn more about this local artist, visit his website at https://www.shellemcline.com or follow him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/shellemclinemusic.
EAGLE SCOUT PROJECT APPROVED
Senior Patrol Leader Colton Sterling of Statesville Troop 609 asked the council for permission to build an “Animal Blessing Box” for community members to pick up animal food if they cannot afford it for their pets in these difficult economic times.
Sterling had planned to build it near the Lake Norman Humane Dog Park at ESC Park, but staff suggested it be constructed in a similar style to and near the Rocky Mount United Methodist Church Blessing Box in the Town Hall Parking lot since it would be more convenient to donors and recipients, less susceptible to wildlife interference, and monitored on camera for users’ safety.
Councilman George Harris suggested a sign be placed near the dog park entrance to alert community members to the box’s presence.
Animal lovers in the community can donate pet foods to the box, much like community and church members keep the RMUMC blessing box stocked for those in need of emergency food assistance.
Sterling plans to put a box at the Iredell County Animal Shelter in Statesville and is also seeking another location to build one as part of his Eagle Scout project.
Technology bugs have plagued recent attempts to broadcast various Troutman council and board meetings over the past few months, despite extensive troubleshooting by professionals. Equipment, software, and internet firewall issues have caused problems.
In response to these issues and loosening COVID-19 restrictions, the council voted 5-0 to return to in-person community attendance, which is still limited under social distancing guidelines of six feet.
Wyatt said community members could take turns entering the chamber for the parts of the meeting they are coming for.
Henkel said it was time to get back to more normal meetings, but still wanted staff to solve Youtube livestream issues to accommodate community members who cannot attend for various reasons.
OPPOSITION TO GENERAL ASSEMBLY BILLS
Two bills before the N.C. General Assembly have drawn opposition from many municipalities, including the Troutman Council.
Senate Bill 349 (House Bill 401) seeks to eliminate single family housing zoning and require that all “middle housing” types — such as duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes and townhouses — be allowed in any areas zoned for residential use, including those now allowing only single-family homes.
The bill’s sponsors say the primary goal of the legislation is to provide affordable housing options in all types of residential areas in North Carolina.
Senate Bill 455 decriminalizes town ordinances. The new language states that “if any person shall violate an ordinance of a county, city, town, or metropolitan sewerage district created under Article 5 of Chapter 162A, the person shall be guilty of an infraction punishable by a fine of not more than fifty dollars.”
“Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, no person shall be convicted of a criminal offense unless the offense appears in this Chapter, Chapter 20 of the General Statutes, or Article 5 of Chapter 90 of the General Statutes or the offense is a common-law offense.”
The N.C. League of Municipalities has concerns about that state exerting control over local governments on these issues and urges members to lobby legislators to vote against both measures.
Mayor Teross Young asked Wyatt to draft a letter to be signed by council members opposing both pieces of proposed legislation. The letters would be sent to local lawmakers.
AGENDA ITEMS FOR THURSDAY NIGHT MEETING
At its regular meeting on Thursday night at 7 p.m., the council will:
♦ Consider approval of financing terms for an $810,000 loan to buy properties at 160 and 170 Wagner Street and 4 lots at the corner of Scroggs Street and North Avenue beside the current Town Hall facility. Members will also consider a budget amendment to reflect the purchase in the 2020-21 budget.
♦ Consider approval of a $70,340 budget amendment for the Mill Village sewer project loan payment.
♦ Consider approval of a $32,625 budget amendment from fund balance to pay for a concrete walking trail around the multipurpose field at ESC Park.
♦ Consider selection of the Town of Troutman Citizen of the Year (nominees: Billie Jo Powell, Jimmy and Betty Jean Troutman, Sherri Saunders).
♦ Consider selection of Town of Troutman “Organization of the Year” (nominee: Troutman Fire and Rescue).
♦ Set budget workshop dates in May.
♦ Consider Planning and Zoning Board re-appointments of Karen Van Vliet (in-town), Kenneth Reid (in-town), and Mark Taylor (ETJ member for approval by Iredell County Commissioners).
♦ Consider Planning and Zoning Board appointments of alternate Lori Eberly to fill the unexpired term of resigning Ray Welsh and Frank Burgess to fill Eberly’s inside-alternate position.
♦ Hear quarterly reports from the J. Hoyt Hayes Memorial Troutman Library and Troutman Fire and Rescue.