GARLAND – With school openings just around the corner now, members of the local NC STEP group want to give children a fresh start.
The local organization is hosting a Back to School event beginning at 6 p.m. Aug. 21 at the town park. During the event, backpacks and school supplies will be distributed.
During a Tuesday meeting, Garland’s Board of Commissioners approved $300 to help co-sponsor it, through NC STEP.
Volunteer Jackie Newton Johnson is looking forward to the upcoming event and helping people in the community through the program.
“I’ve been excited about it,” Johnson said about the event organized by NC STEP participants.
The purpose of the North Carolina Small Towns Economic Prosperity Program (NC STEP) is to help towns facing economic hardships because of the economy.
“It makes the community look good because we want the town to grow,” Johnson said. “We care.”
NC STEP is hosting two drives for school supplies. The first is set for 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 15 at the Family Dollar, 24 Ingold Ave., Garland. The next one is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16 at Walmart, 1415 Sunset Ave., Clinton.
“We prefer the supplies, but we will accept monetary donations, too,” Johnson said. “That will allow us to shop for supplies.”
The upcoming drives are not the first. During a recent rainy day, Johnson did not mind being outside.
“I raised two children and I understand what it takes to get them through school,” Johnson said. “A lot of stuff is not free.”
Over the years, Johnson has encountered a lot of people sitting outside stores asking for donations. She now knows how it feels to be in their shoes.
“I decided to never walk by someone again and not support them,” Johnson said. “We all can give and support somebody.”
During the Aug. 21 event, Johnson said hot dogs and refreshments will be served.
Currently, NC STEP has collected more than $300 for supplies. Their goal is to help about 100 students.
“It’s priceless to see the smiles on the kids’ faces,” Johnson said.
Garland to switch
The Garland Board of Commissioners approved a proposal from Duke Progress Energy to switch street lights to LED (light emitting diodes) lighting.
It will provide a more cost efficient and brighter lights for the town, officials noted.
Through the proposal, any street light that is 20 years old or older can be converted without any charges.
Other lights, less than 20 years old, will be converted to LED at a one-time cost of $50. The total cost is about $1,300.
According to an inventory, more than 100 of the replacements will be free. The city will have to pay to replace 25.
“The energy saving will actually pay for itself in a short amount of time,” Town Clerk Pamela Cashwell said.
Funding for water
meter project approved
The Garland Board of Commissioners approved more than $202,000 to replace water meters throughout town.
Rodney Tart of Green Engineering presented the information before a decision was made to award the contract to Advance Utility Services to install a more convenient fix-based system.
The system installed by the Arkansas-based business will be radio transmitted, whereby the reading of the meters can be executed by the staff at the office. Digital information from the water meter will be transferred back to the town office, via radio frequency waves.
A survey was conducted with staff members and every meter was identified to find vacant lot meters. There is now a GPS database of all the meters. Tart said it’s important.
“Anytime you have a meter fixture in the ground, that is a system liability,” Tart said. “Being able to identify where it is, enables staff to track that and keep up with it. Making sure illegal connections are not made is good prudent management to stay on top of where your water goes.”
After the design was finished, staff met with contractors and vendors, before the bid for the project was advertised.
Advance Utility Services submitted the lowest bid for $203, 381. The highest bid to come was more than $330,000.
Before it’s implemented, several steps have to occur first.
One of them includes final approval from the state’s Drinking Water State Revolving Loan fund. Currently, other information is also being sent to the state as well for final approval.
A projected start date has not been announced.
Town clerk Pamela Cashwell said one of the benefits will include the ability to detect leaks quicker, which may save residents money.
“As far as us, it’s going to allow us to monitor the water that’s actually used,” Cashwell said.