Last updated: December 17. 2013 2:44PM
By - cberendt@civitasmedia.com



Chris Berendt/Sampson IndependentGarland town clerk Jennifer Gray and Commissioner S.J. Smith look over meeting documents. The town is expected to consider a number of items next month, including repairs to the Garland Community Center and a possible increase to the facility's rental fees.
Chris Berendt/Sampson IndependentGarland town clerk Jennifer Gray and Commissioner S.J. Smith look over meeting documents. The town is expected to consider a number of items next month, including repairs to the Garland Community Center and a possible increase to the facility's rental fees.
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GARLAND — Amid ongoing maintenance efforts and the desire to keep the building in good shape, town officials are discussing the possibility of increasing the rental fee at the Garland Community Center,


The town’s current rental fee, adopted in May 2012, is $50, with a $100 deposit. The bulk of any increase would go toward cleaning the building during and after the rental period, Mayor Winifred Murphy said. She asked the board to consider modifying the fee during a recent town meeting.


“I’d like you to start thinking about this. We’ve had a lot of maintenance to our buildings — to our Garland Community Building to our Garland Senior Center — and we’d like you to consider changing that fee to more than $50.”


Commissioner Haywood Johnson, who has been involved in some of the repairs, said he believed the town should increase its rental rate. Murphy noted that, when she was working with the local school system, those organizations that rented out school facilities would also have to pay for a custodian.


“So somebody is hired to actually clean up,” said the mayor. “It’s not left to the individual who is renting the facility, but someone on our staff would be paid to clean the facility to ensure it is up to standards, where we would like for it to be.”


She asked the board to consider hiring a custodian during the period the facility is being rented in order to keep the building looking good.


“I just wanted to bring this to (the board’s) attention so they can begin thinking about it before we bring it back up next time,” said Murphy. Additionally, she asked for the town board members to contemplate whether a separate charge should be assessed for those who use the kitchen.


As part of the ongoing maintenance Murphy alluded to, the town received a quote for replacement of the fire exit doors at the Garland Community Center. Town clerk Jennifer Gray said the quote was for $6,900 to replace the exit devices on three exterior doors, as well as replace the double doors in the main area that essentially breaks the building in half.


“What we’re looking at spending is about $6,900 to replace and repair the doors that we have in place now,” said Gray.


After brief consideration, the board decided to table upping the rental fees, as well as the possible expenditure to replace the exterior doors in favor of more discussion. A couple other issues were similarly tabled, to be the subject of talks in January.


‘One Call Now’


Issues dealing with how to continue and improve communication among town officials and with citizens were broached during the board’s recent meeting, but ultimately tabled for further discussion.


With newly-elected commissioners for the Garland Board of Commissioners now in place, and the board starting a new chapter, Murphy has preached the importance of communication amongst the board and citizen involvement in town matters for the town to be successful.


The Garland board will also be discussing further how to reach its citizens in a timely manner. Credits purchased as part of a calling system implemented for the town last year are about to run out, and town officials are expected to talk about the possibility of buying more credits.


“One Call Now,” is a one-call system that the town uses to communicate with its citizens in an expedient manner that previously required letters notifying residents of such things as town meetings, leaf and limb collection and other town events and related matters.


“We have about 600 credits left, which means we only have one call we can make between now and March,” said Murphy. “We do need to get more credits. I think we paid for 5,000 credits last March so we will need to look at either doing mailings and (paying for) postage or continue our calling system.”


In the past, N.C. STEP paid for the system, at a price tag of $795 for the 5,000 individual calls, to use it for disseminating information on N.C. STEP meetings and issues related to the grant program, as well as for the town. Murphy said to reach all Garland residents — the town has a population of 631 — it requires 325 calls.


“We can probably make a few calls to N.C. STEP leadership members and another call to all the citizens within the next month or so,” the mayor said.


Commissioner Ralph Smith made a motion to table the matter until the board’s January meeting, a motion that was seconded and approved unanimously.


Murphy also brought up the possibility of having what she called a “board symposium” in January, where the board could talk about best communication methods, receive training and talk about general town matters.


“We could do a communication symposium or anything else that (board members) would like to talk about at that time,” the mayor said. She asked the board for dates or whether they wanted to wait until next month. Commissioner Haywood Johnson made a motion for the latter, approved unanimously.


Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at cberendt@civitasmedia.com.

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