HARRELLS — The Harrells Board of Aldermen discussed a variety of topics during its meeting Tuesday night. The major topic of discussion, however, focused on the renovations the town is planning on the old EMS building.
Although funding is not yet available to pay for the proposal, the board is still in the process of discussing exactly what changes need to be made.
“Our goal, first and foremost, is to keep the county EMS employees stationed here in town. We need to do whatever we can to keep them here,” asserted alderman Teddy Moore.
Mayor Jimmy Moore explained several discussions had been held including conversations with EMS personnel — Ronald Bass, Eric Herring and Jerry Cashwell — about specifications that needed to be made to the facility. He shared the latest drawings that had been made showing the improvements. Those improvements would involve updating restrooms for the handicapped, putting in a separate heating/cooling system for each part of the building, the living quarters and the front portion of the building and others not specified.
“A sprinkler system will have to be installed in the sleeping quarters and estimates for that one item will run us about $3,000. The total cost for the first phase of this project that primarily involves the sleeping quarters for the EMS staff is about $30,000.
Town clerk Cindy Ezzell reported that she had started preliminary action to complete an application for funding with Four County Electric membership. The board also encouraged Ezzell to look into other options for funding the project.
“We have not had to do this in a while, but it may be necessary for us to take out a loan up front to pay for these improvements so we can ensure the EMS remains in town. But we are not at that point at the moment,” stated the mayor. “There are some funds available from the transfer of the property that we can utilize for the project also,” added Moore.
The mayor also questioned Ezzell about whether the town’s auditor could be contacted as to the town is standing financially following the end of the tax revenue season in early January. Ezzell stated she would be in contact with the auditor and get the needed information and possibly have him attend a future meeting.
The board’s representative to the Sampson County Transportation Planning Committee, Sarah Ragan, reported from the committee’s initial meeting. Ragan stated the committee met on Oct. 22 for the first time.
“The first meeting was primarily for everyone to get to know each other. About 20 people were present and representing eight townsm, including Clinton. It is going to be a lengthy process and I have a few suggestions for the board to consider so we can have better input from the community. That is something we all need to have for this project to be successful,” cited Ragan.
Ragan suggested the town develop it website where citizens would be able to provide input on issues they would like the transportation plan to include. The representative shared that she felt concerns for the town would include improved bike and walking access on the roads and the establishment of a local railroad connection for the public to access the railroad without having to travel so far.
Ezzell shared that the town already has a website but it is still in development. She also noted that she would take the suggestion into consideration as the site develops.
“I feel that the mountain and eastern regions of the state have been neglected for so long. It is time we do something about it and this transportation plan is one way to do that,” stressed Ragan.
The board also approved a bid to purchase a new heating and cooling unit for town hall. Ezzell reported that about two weeks prior to the meeting the system went out and the service company shared that the current unit had served its purpose.
Ezzell shared with the board that the Harrells Water Department, which shares the building, had already approved to pay their 50 percent of the cost of a new unit. The aldermen approved to purchase a new unit at the cost of $4,350.
The clerk reported that the town’s annual Singing Around the Christmas Tree would be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 18. The mayor also announced that due to the New Year’s holiday the next meeting would be held on Jan. 8 rather than the first.