2018-05-17 / Front Page

Council conducts routine business; will look at Old Skull Shoals paving

Routine business and little controversy characterized Monday’s May meeting of the Washington City Council which was also uncharacteristically short, finishing up in under 25 minutes. However, one issue of discussion, the condition of the surface of Old Skull Shoals Road, drew considerable concern and criticism from Councilman Nathaniel Cullars and Roger Harper, a resident of the area.

With extensive water and sewer repair and rebuilding going on in that area, Old Skull Shoals Road has been damaged, dug up, and patched causing residents in the area considerable hardship in navigation and travel while the work is being done. The road is being patched but both Cullars and Harper reported that the pavement is now uneven making travel uncomfortably rough. They also contend that the work leaves the area dirty and dusty.

“I am concerned over whether the streets will be fixed back like they were,” Harper told the council. He pointed out that some of the patches “will eventually chip out” because they don’t match the existing road.

“They dug up my street four times, and two other streets three times,” Harper continued. “That tells me that somebody doesn’t know what they’re doing.”

Mayor Ames Barnett and Sherri Bailey indicated that the plan is to overlay the streets, once the project and patching are complete, using TSPLOST funds, but that will have to wait until the next budget year, at least seven months away. However, they also pointed out that the contractor is bonded and must leave the streets in satisfactory condition at the end of the project.

“They should put [the street] back and it should be level with the same asphalt that was there, and if it’s not, we need to go up there and look at it,” Barnett said.

Harper contended that “they are not going to be able to do that, because these are not people who do streets. It shouldn’t have taken two months to do what they did.” Later he added, “I can’t believe that you get a grant and the streets are not put back like they were. They are not getting the job done.”

Bailey explained that the cost of the work came in much higher than was expected so the project was broken up into three cycles. The grant money is used as far as it will go and then the city has to pick up the rest. At this point, in the second of the three-phase job, additional city funding won’t be available until the next budget year, at which point an overlay might be possible.

Barnett promised Harper that he would check on the work being done and report back to him.

“I’m hoping we will not pay them anything until they do that road correctly,” Cullars said.

In other business, the council approved a building code based on national standards for a building suitable for housing fireworks.

In an effort to correct an inconsistency in scheduling, the members voted unanimously, except for Councilman Maceo Mahoney who was absent from the meeting, to change the deadline for adding items to the agenda. The change requires that any agenda item be submitted at least two days before a meeting in order to allow time for the agenda to be prepared and distributed to members.

A change in the method for handling ethics violation charges was presented by City Attorney Barry Fleming who was following up on a request by Mahoney at a previous meeting. Rather than a panel of three council members appointed by the mayor to an “investigative panel,” the change would provide for an attorney, chosen on a rotating basis from a panel of three, to make recommendations to the full council concerning ethics violation charges.

Proponents of the change have argued that such investigations and recommendations should not be made by council members but by someone outside the city body even though engaging attorneys would involve additional costs.

The proposed change failed by a vote of 2-3 with only councilmen Marion Tutt and Cullars voting in favor.

In reporting on Washington-Wilkes Parks and Recreation Department activity, Councilman Mike Scarborough reported that the air-conditioning units are being installed at the gymnasium this week. Next week, he said, the gym will be closed for duct installation. Meanwhile, soccer and baseball programs are ongoing, and summer camp is scheduled for June 4-July 12.

He also said that the W-WPRD would like to have a proper crosswalk marked on McLendon Drive allowing for people to cross from its grounds over to the city swimming pool. Cullars added that he would like to see that done before summer programs begin. Bailey agreed to check into striping options.

In other business:

A request for a beer and wine package license for Fred’s on the North By-pass was denied by a voted of 2-3 with councilmen Travis Armour, Peewee Armour, and Scarborough voting against the license. Travis Armour, who routinely votes against alcohol licensing, said “with Fred’s, we will probably have Dollar General and all the others also.” Tutt, who voted in favor, charged the other dissenters with “You can’t vote for one and not vote for the others.”

A continuance of insurance coverage for Marion Bell was approved through June 30.

Bailey and Scarborough were selected as voting delegates to the coming MEAG annual meeting.

Updates to the city’s schedule of alcohol licensing fees were approved.

Budget amendments allowing for the separation of city shop accounts from the public works accounts were approved.

The next regular meeting of the council will be held at 3:30 p.m. Monday, June 11, at The Pope Center with a work session immediately prior beginning at 3 p.m.

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