By Stan Welch
Williamston Mayor Mack Durham met with two members of the town council in a work session Tuesday to preview some of the issues that will be on the agenda at next week’s Council meeting.
Leading the discussion were the preparations needed to prepare and submit the Town’s NPDES permit,which allows them to operate the waste water system. The town has received several bids from companies seeking to do the engineering work and various studies needed to prepare the permit. The bids range from $17,000 to $19,500.
Councilman Otis Scott once again raised the issue of the Gray Drive bridge. After a brief discussion, town attorney Lee Cole was instructed to arrange for a meeting between town, county and railroad officials.
Mayor Durham told the members present that the way finding signage intended to be installed along Main Street has been received and installation will begin soon. Scott asked about the status of plans to install decorative street lights along the Main Street bridge and was told that County Councilman Ken Waters, who also works for Duke Energy, is looking into that project.
The Town is also exploring the possibility of a combination of grant money and a low interest loan from the USDA to purchase and implement water meters that can be read electronically, instead of manually. Councilman Rockey Burgess reiterated the amount of manpower that could be redirected to other uses once the new system is in place.
Durham reported that requests for proposals (RFPs) will soon go out concerning the rehabilitation and repair work slated for the railroad depot. He explained that a total reconstruction is not in the plan, but significant work will be done, including assuring that the building is ADA compliant and that the moisture under the building is addressed.
The council members present (Councilmen Hagood and Harvell were unable to attend) gladly gave Mayor Durham the go ahead to make the decisions necessary to get the pink room in the town hall painted. “You choose the color”, said Burgess. “We sure don’t need a committee for that.”
Attorney Cole informed them that his research confirmed that the Town owns the current EMS facility free and clear. He and the mayor also discussed a new proviso included by the General Assembly in the new state budget. That proviso requires each municipality to contract, either with a private firm or with the appropriate public defender’s office to provide free legal assistance to any qualified defendants appearing in municipal courts.
The requirement would only apply to cases where the defendant faces possible incarceration if found guilty. Hervery Young, the current public defender for the 10thJudicial Circuit, has presented a proposal that would establish each town’s share of the burden based on the percentage of population that they represent. The total cost of the program, which as a proviso is essentially a one year trial run, will be fifty thousand dollars for the entire county.
Of that amount, Williamston’s share would be just under forty eight hundred dollars. Councilman Burgess drew a big laugh when he asked if that could be funded with recreation funds.
Cole explained that based on the number of cases Williamston normally sees in a year that the offer by Young is a good one. “We certainly won’t find a private firm that will try that many cases for that amount.”
Williamston Town Council will meet Monday at 6 p.m. for their regular monthly meeting.