Correction – The Robesonian

Posted: November 18, 2020 at 3:56 pm

November 17, 2020

FAIRMONT Commissioners here continue to take steps to address flooding in town, with the decision being made Tuesday to proceed with applying for a $2 million grant to fund improvements to a sewer pump system on Brown Street.

During the Board of Commissioners meeting, a public hearing was held on the towns plan to apply for up to $2 million in Community Development Block Grant-Infrastructure funding from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. If awarded, the funding will cover the cost of repairs to the Brown Street sewer pump station.

Fairmont residents can be assured that they will not be asked to vacate their homes during the project, said Bill Lester, a principal engineer at LKC Engineering.

We absolutely will not be displacing anyone, Lester said.

The engineering firm will continue to help the town apply for funding for other projects, he said.

This project usually runs a 24- to 30-month course, Lester said.

We wouldnt get to construction until more than a year from now, he added.

Commissioner Terry Evans said infrastructure improvements are key to maintaining a town and the health and well-being of its residents.

A lot of this town beneath us is crumbling, he said.

The town has been approved to receive a $60,000 Community Development Block Grant Recovery grant, said Ricky Harris, interim town manager. The money will be used to help it clean out the canal near the Old Field area, if one more hurdle can be cleared.

We cant even do the canal until we get the permit, Harris said.

The engineers must get a permit from the state to move forward on that project, he said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be working in other towns in the county soon, and reached out to Fairmont for any needs it had related to flooding, Harris said. He submitted the canal area for the Corps review.

Commissioner Monte McCallum said the project to clear the canal needs to move forward soon. He said he has seen photos of homeowners bathtubs filled with sewage overflow.

Fairmont Public Works Director Ronnie Seals told commissioners that repairs must be made soon in some areas of town because of damages from the 9 inches of rain the town received Thursday.

Some areas of the town that did not flood during hurricanes Matthew and Florence did on Thursday, he said. Some residents had to access their homes via temporary roads made by the towns Public Works department.

An area on Taylor Street washed out, a pump at the towns wastewater treatment plant is no longer operational and the wastewater treatment plant access road is under water, Seals said.

We had to use tractors to get in and out, he said.

Commissioner Felecia McLean-Kesler commended Seals for his hard work to repair damages to the water and sewer systems.

Ronnie, I know your hands are full, but keep persevering, keep pressing forward, she said.

McLean-Kesler also asked town residents to be patient as the town works to repair its water and wastewater systems.

In other business, Town Attorney Jessica Scott said the town is working toward abatement of a property at 201 Pine St.

Its just taking some time to get that process started, she said.

She will continue to follow the necessary legal steps required in the process, Scott said.

Its such a significant deprival of the property, she said of securing the home from its owners.

Evans expressed interest in buying the property.

Scott said she has sent a letter to owners of a property on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive for which the Medicaid lien has been released. She asked the owners to clean up the lot, and told commissioners if the property owners refuse, the town will have to decide whether it wishes to pursue abatement of the property.

In other matters, Commissioner McCallum offered an explanation for his decision not to stand during the pledge at town meetings since May. McCallum said he is doing so to protest systemic racism and the death of George Floyd, who died in May after being restrained by a Minneapolis police officer. Floyd died after the officers knee remained on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

Every board meeting for 8 months is my protest towards that, McCallum said.

Theres no disrespect, he added. Thats just my silent protest.

Commissioner Evans said he has sat by McCallum each time in protest of racial injustices that continue in America. Evans and McCallum both served their country as members of the U.S. Army.

Also on Tuesday, Commissioner Charles Kemp asked interim Town Manager Harris to write a letter to state representatives requesting their assistance in finding grants to help pay for renovations to the towns youth center.

The next board meeting is scheduled for Dec. 15.

Correction - The Robesonian

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