BY DEBBIE PAGE
The Troutman Town Council paid tribute to former interim town manager and Troutman resident James W. Freeman on Thursday night.
Freeman, who died on July 9 at age 70, served the town from October of 2019 to June of 2020 as the council conducted a town manager search. Freeman previously served as town manager for Elizabethtown, Roxboro, and Havelock, and after retirement in 2013, he served served in interim positions, including in Swansboro, Blowing Rock, Smithfield and River Bend.
Mayor Pro Tem Paul Henkel, who presides over the meeting due to Mayor Teross Young’s absence, said Freeman helped the town to continue move forward during a transition period with his guidance, exemplary service, and leadership.
After the town honored him for his help at his last council meeting, Freeman said, “In all of my years of public service, Troutman is the only one to formally acknowledge and publicly thank me.”
Henkel said that Freeman “loved this town, and he enjoyed serving it. He made it clear should we need his services in the future, in whatever capacity, he was available.”
“We mourn his loss and send our condolences to his family on their loss.”
Henkel said the family plans a celebration of life service in the near future to honor Freeman for his exemplary life and community service.
TOWN RECEIVES ALMOST $6 MILLION IN INFRASTRUCTURE GRANTS
Council member Eddie Nau thanked Town Manager Ron Wyatt for his hard work in applying for and earning grants to address town infrastructure needs and expansion.
The town recently learned it will receive a $900,000 infrastructure grant for general expenses from the state and a N.C. Department of Environmental Quality grant totaling $1.665 million, with a low interest loan option for another $650,000.
Over the past two years, the town has received nearly $6 million in infrastructure-related grants, especially to address wastewater issues.
Eliminating leaks and keeping rainwater out of the system lowers sewer treatment costs and increases the capacity to treat true wastewater needs, said Wyatt. Making system improvements will save residents money by limiting future cost increases.
Wyatt noted the infrastructure improvements will occur over the next few years, after which customers should see positive impacts on their water and sewer bills.
MY GOV HUB
The town is starting a My Gov Hub online service and automated phone payment system. Instructions on use will be included in the town’s August newsletter.
Finance Director Justin Mundy said the automated phone payment system will require no personal staff contact, which will reduce the possibility of keying mistakes and further safeguard customer’s personal information.
Mundy asked community members to be patient as the town works out any “hiccups” as the systems are implemented. He said that the new technology will increase staff efficiency and save customers money with the elimination of the $5 phone payment convenience fee.
POLICE DEPARMENT REPORT
Police Chief Josh Watson reported that the department responded to 233 calls in June and wrote 46 police reports from those calls. Officers investigated 29 crashes and made 29 arrests, including two for impaired drivers and eight for outstanding warrants.
Officers had 210 traffic stops, with 15 narcotics busts, some at felony level, and four alcohol violations.
Watson said the officers continue to conduct neighborhood patrols in cars and on foot.
The department is also busy preparing for several upcoming community events, including two sand lot baseball games for ages K – 12th grade at ESC Park on July 23 and August 13 from 6 p.m. until dark.
Watson said to bring bats, gloves and helmets for a night of baseball fun with officers and to enjoy some Kona Ice treats.
The department’s annual National Night Out will be on Tuesday, August 2, from 6 to 9 p.m. at ESC Park. Officers are busy inviting vendors and participants for that event.
In other action, the council:
♦ Approved a resolution to ratify the updated charter of the Centralina Regional Council.
♦ Approved accepting a $46,000 fee in lieu of sidewalk construction in one part of the Weathers Creek subdivision because a bridge needs to be constructed before sidewalks are built.
♦ Approved amendments to the town’s schedule of fees, including removal of $5 convenience fee for phone payments as the town moves to an IVR payment system, updating of new water and sewer rates, and adding flexible off-duty police officer security rates (per police chief’s discretion) for non-town events at the park.
♦ Approved an added agenda item to engage in a Rural Economic Development Grant agreement to participate in the Building Reuse program
♦ Amended the water and sewer service policy to reflect removal of the $5 convenience fee.
♦ Untabled the facade approval for accessory structures at Desired Image Collisions and Customs and sent the non-compliance matter to Town Planner Lynne Hair and the Code Enforcement officer to begin enforcement proceedings.
♦ Approved an annexation request for .42 acres at 126 Gilcrest Lane.
♦ Voted to continue consideration of an annexation request for 1.19 acres at 681 South Eastway Drive by Touche Homes until next month.
♦ Appointed Mark Michel to the voting inside Planning and Zoning Board seat, Tonya Bartlett as the inside alternate seat, and reappointed inside voting member Daryl Hall to another term. The council also reappointed Michelle Peck to the Board of Adjustment.