BY DEBBIE PAGE
Troutman Town Council members learned more about the delayed town audit and the Old Murdock Road/Eastway Drive water main break during Monday’s pre-agenda meeting.
WATER MAIN BREAK
An old, 15-foot-deep water line, not shown on any town utility maps, broke on January 17 during the cold temperatures and snowy weather, which caused the ground to experience “frost heaves” that resulted in the line breaking.
Due to its age and brittle cast iron material, the line experienced a complete circle break. With no information that this line even existed, the Troutman Public Works crew isolated the only known water main in the area.
When water still spilled and water tank levels dipped to emergency levels, the team shut off valves further out, resulting in more residents being without service but maintaining proper water tank levels to ensure adequate water flow for fire fighting, an important requirement for water systems.
That night, as temperatures dropped to 19 degrees with windchills around 14, the crew ran out of options for safely working at the necessary excavation depth. The town then called in Bell Construction to ensure the area was excavated and repaired correctly and safely.
A few staff members returned home to rest to ensure the town could cover the next day’s Public Works duties. Those that remained assisted Bell Construction until job completion, working for over 24 hours straight.
After multiple attempts, the Bell Construction crew finally discovered the broken line at the extreme depth. They brought in larger equipment to complete the repair and ensure continued excavation safety.
Six feet of the damaged cast iron line was removed and replaced with ductile iron and two hi-max high-pressure couplings.
Water service was restored after 30 hours of work. The town thanks affected citizens affected for their patience and consideration during this emergency and Bell Construction for its assistance.
Town Manager Ron Wyatt said that these kinds of breaks are common in municipalities everywhere. A 2021 article in WC&P Magazine reported that experts estimate that 25 breaks occur for every 100 miles of water mains per year.
The average age of failed water mains is 47 years. About 43 percent of water mains are between 20 and 50 years old, with 28 percent over 50 years.
Wyatt noted that old pipes are not replaced as long as they continue to work. He said this expensive break was the worst the town has experienced in the last 30 to 40 years.
Due to a continuing settlement issue as a result of the break, a quarter mile of North Eastway Drive is closed this week from Scroggs Street beside Town Hall to Old Murdock Road. Old Murdock Road will remain open to Main Street but inaccessible from Eastway. Repairs should take about a week.
Town Finance Director Justin Mundy reported that the town’s auditing firm has all information needed and is completing a draft of the 2020-21 audit report this week. Mundy is hopeful that he will receive it by Friday.
Mundy said the auditing firm takes ownership of the problem and has spoken to the Local Government Commission and assured it that Troutman has no fault in the audit delay.
One of the firm’s partners expressed embarrassment about the conduct of the former employee responsible for the incomplete work and reiterated that this conduct did not meet the firm’s standards.
CITIZEN AND ORGANIZATION OF THE YEAR NOMINATIONS
Nominations for Troutman’s 2022 Citizen of the Year and 2022 Organization of the Year are now open. Forms can be found on the town’s website or picked up in person at Town Hall at 400 N. Eastway Drive Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nominations are due by March 31.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH
The Troutman Police Department is celebrating Black History Month by honoring African-American law enforcement officers from American history. The first officer honored was former Troutman Police Chief Johnny Cavin Walker, the first African-American Police Chief in Iredell County who was known for his character and dedication to duty.
This week the department recognized Samuel J. Battle, a New Bern native and child of former slaves. After moving to New York City, Battle became the first African-American NYPD police officer in 1911 and went on to become the department’s first black sergeant in 1926 and the first black lieutenant in 1935. He retired from NYPD with 40 years of service in 1951.
Wyatt and Mayor Teross Young also thanked staff for their efforts for MLK Day breakfast, program, and service project, which received much positive community feedback. Many have commented on the improved appearance of the Exit 42 area after the community service cleanup of the area.
Council member Felina Harris asked the community to honor Black History Month by getting to know someone who looks different from themselves to build bridges of understanding and friendship.
THURSDAY NIGHT AGENDA
During Thursday’s meeting, the council will consider:
♦ A text amendment to the Town of Troutman Unified Development Ordinance regarding decriminalizing of the Ordinance Article 12.3 to meet requirements of Senate Bill 300. The council may also look at decriminalizing other ordinances, such as those regulating dogs, livestock, building and housing code and regulations, peddlers, noise violations, property nuisances, open burning, solid waste, and parking.
♦ A text amendment to the Town of Troutman Unified Development Ordinance regulating commercial accessory structures.
♦ Recognition in memory of former Town Council members Jennie Clontz and James (Jimmy) Troutman.
♦ Resolution and recognition of Daniel Hemric, NASCAR’s 2021 Xfinity Series Champion.
♦ Business Spotlight: Meredith Marie Photography.
♦ Agreement with Miracle Homes for timed reduction of housing units out of UDO compliance.
♦ Approval of Calvin Creek Amenity Center Facade.
♦ Approval of surplus and sale of unused police tasers.
♦ Approval of Town of Troutman Take Home Vehicle Policy.
♦ Approval of Town of Troutman Social Media Comment Policy.
♦ The J. Hoyt Hayes Memorial Troutman Library monthly report.