BY DEBBIE PAGE
The Troutman Town Council recognized Police Chief Josh Watson as the August Employee of the Month during its regular meeting on Thursday. Council members also praised his department, Troutman Public Works, and Troutman Fire and Rescue for their exemplary work in the aftermath of Monday’s storms and tornadoes in the area.
Town Manager Ron Wyatt praised Watson for his dedication to the job, saying the chief regularly worked overtime. Even when he had put in a 50-hour week and had a Friday off, Watson recently came in to work to direct traffic in an emergency situation.
“He truly leads his officers through his example,” Wyatt said, adding that Watson disliked attention and believes that those who enter law enforcement know the job can be 24/7, especially in times of emergency.
Wyatt also praised Watson and the department for the recent National Night Out. He noted that the chief is engaged in the community, visits businesses to check in, and, along with TPD officers, is making Troutman a better place to live.
“He goes beyond the call of duty,” concluded Wyatt.
Mayor Teross Young said Watson was the “best chief in the county” and thanked him for keeping the community safe by providing the needed level of law enforcement while demonstrating true caring about community members. “The team follows where you lead,” he said.
Watson thanked Wyatt, Mayor Young, and the council for the honor but noted that the 22 officers in the department deserve the honor as well “because they make me what I am” and are “the best I know.
“Without them, I could not do what I do,” he added.
TROUTMAN FIRE AND RESCUE REPORT
Troutman Fire Chief Wesley Morris reported that the delivery of the new Engine 3 Rescue vehicle has once again been delayed, with arrival now expected in April of next year. Morris noted continuing major supply issues exist, with the wait for fire apparatus ordered now reaching three years.
Morris said the Station 3 renovation is nearing completion, with the bays finished and in operation, the sleeping quarters expected to be finished in two weeks, and the up-fitting the day room expected to be complete in three weeks.
The kitchen will be remodeled next with that final phase of the project hopefully finished by the first of October.
The department is short three firefighters, but Morris just completed interviewing candidates and hopes to make job offers next week to get them on the job by the end of September. He encouraged young people to consider a firefighting career to address the manpower shortage being experienced by departments all over the country.
WATER TANK MAINTENANCE CONTRACT
Wyatt asked for a discussion about the town’s water tank maintenance contracts to be added to the agenda after experiencing dissatisfaction with the current vendor’s customer service and lack of communication. He asked council for permission to give the company a 90-day notice of contract termination.
Wyatt has already starting vetting new service contractors and is currently looking at two prospects. He wants to vet those companies, check references, and visit their work in other municipalities before choosing a tank service contractor.
Council agreed with his request and asked to be kept informed during the transition.
Parks and Recreation Director Emily Watson thanked the community for their donations to the joint town and Troutman Rotary Club school supply drive. They plan to distribute supplies among Troutman area schools this coming week.
Watson also asked that community members exercise care at greenway-connected street crosswalks and to yield to pedestrians, especially as children may start walking to school on Monday.
Town Planner Lynne Hair announced that after months of consideration, the N.C. Department of Transportation has finally approved the sidewalk package, including additional downtown sidewalks and along Tally Street.
Engineering and design can now begin and hopefully be complete in 90 days, followed by right-of-way acquisition, bidding and construction in the coming months.
Citizens will also have the chance to give their opinions about options in the town’s new Mobility Plan on the town website. The survey will be on the town website in the next 30 days. After including community feedback, Assistant Planner Andrew Ventresca hopes to present the plan to the council in November.
♦ Jane Getsinger requested the council’s “blessing” on a project to place a monument, historical plaques, and signage on the historic Sherrill’s Path that runs about one mile through the Colonial Crossing development. This path connected to the Great Wagon Road.
Getsinger said the plan was to keep the path, which has been surveyed and recorded, as part of the natural environment. She wants to raise money to build for the monument and for other materials.
Wyatt suggested forming a committee with council members Paul Henkel and Felina Harris, appropriate staff members, and Getsinger to discuss the project and necessary procedures.
♦ Tales of Lake Norman Pet Spa owner Kayla Walters requested that the council allow her to create a mural featuring dogs, painted by “Mr. Mural” Todd Donahue, on her business’s fence area.
After much discussion, Wyatt explained that town ordinances did not allow murals in her business’s zoning area. To request a change, Walters would have to submit a request for a text amendment, go before the Planning and Zoning Board, and then come back to council for final consideration.
Hair agreed to assist Walters if she chooses to pursue the text amendment request process.
SIDEWALK FEE DECISION DELAYED
♦ At the request of DR Horton, council members delayed a decision for one month on whether to consider a fee in lieu of building a sidewalk on Georgie Street as part of the Brookside Development. DR Horton had offered $86,515 in lieu of the sidewalk, to be built by the town later.
Because topographical issues exist that require grading and right-of-way issues, a contractor who evaluated the site for the town estimated the actual cost would be nearly $215,000.
The council unanimously approved:
♦ A request to file an application for a financing agreement to purchase property (Dollar General) in the principal amount of $1.4 million with approval of the Local Government Commission. The term of the financing is 20 years with level installment payments made quarterly with a fixed interest rate.
♦ A contract between the Town of Troutman and the Iredell Charter Academy of Arts and Science for a School Resource Officer under the same reimbursement terms as exist with Iredell-Statesville Schools.
♦ The Annexation Boundary Agreement Between the Town of Troutman and City of Statesville.
♦ Annexation of the 75.597-acre Children’s Hope Alliance property located on the west side of Highway 21, just north of Barium Lane, and zoning of the property as Office Institutional.
♦ The appointment of Camille Lahey as a voting member of the Design Review Board for a vacant seat expiring November 12.
♦ Amending the Town of Troutman Schedule of Fees for some utility and zoning department fees.
♦ Setting public hearings for September 14 for Sterling Properties of Mooresville for annexation of 49.54 acres near Autumn Leaf Road and Quail Haven Court and for Troutman Commercial Properties LLC of 7.5 acres at 709 South Main Street. Both projects are scheduled to be reviewed by the Planning and Zoning Board on August 28 at 6 p.m.