Earlier this week, the Harrells Board of Aldermen took up a number of issues, dicussing — and acting on — items that included the town park and a potential donation to Union Middle.
In the matter of a donation to Union Middle School’s athletic program, the board decided not to contribute because they felt it would open them up to potential problems since the town is not in the business of making donations and budget constraints would not allow such contributions.
A discussion related to changing from a bi-monthly spraying of mosquitoes to a weekly application was settled with town clerk Cindy Ezzell given authority to determine, based on the amount of rain, whether increased spraying was needed.
“I feel this needs to be determined by the amount of rain we receive. Recently we have had a lot of rain. But if we have a dry spell then we will not need to spray as often. Leaving this up to Cindy will ensure we are doing what needs to be done,” remarked mayor Jimmy Moore.
Turning to recreation, the aldermen discussed utility relates at the town park.
As a result of the county Recreation Department not handling the Harrells Park any longer, the town is experiencing growing pains in relation to providing the facility for use. The town clerk reported that the summer softball league had been a tremendous success and, because of it, was planning to hold a fall league as well. But anytime you have large crowds of people, problems can arise, the noted. The town is now discovering the added costs in providing the park to the public.
“The league covered the cost of the power bill for July but there is a cost for operating the concession stand we did not consider when we discussed the league using the park,” explained Ezzell. “The concession stand is on a different meter than the field lights and the electric bill was $90 last month. We need to address this cost so the town will not be responsible for paying for use of the concession stand,” reported the clerk.
After discussion, the aldermen voted to charge a fee of $15 per use for the concession stand that would help to defray the costs involved in running the refrigerator to cool soft drinks and lights in the concession stand.
Ezzell also shared with the board that due to the increased utilization of the park, the trash had greatly increased. The mayor shared that anytime you have a crowd of people you are going to have trash left over. He went on to state that these issues were something the board would need to examine and they moved through the new process of providing the park for use.
In her report to the aldermen, Ezzell expressed that non-residents of Harrells were dumping trash in the town’s dumpster at the park and she wanted to know what to do about the situation. It was decided to install a video camera to determine who was responsible. The clerk also shared that a new American/Hispanic restaurant was locating in the area and the owners are hoping to be up and operating in a few weeks.
When the mayor asked for any other concerns, Burly spoke up regarding the dissatisfaction the town’s residents have with the service or lack thereof provided by Progress Energy.
“I have received a number of calls every time the wind blows just a little about the power going out. Four County has been proactive in their service to the town, but Progress Energy is dragging their feet in helping us get and keeping the power on in town. One day just last week the Dollar Store had just received a full shipment of dairy products when the power went out and they had to throw it all away due to spoilage due to loss of power,” said Burley.
The mayor also expressed his concern in the matter of Progress Energies lack of concern with the town’s power situation.
“I have been attempting on numerous occasions to speak with someone from Progress Energy for several months now. Even longer than that…since Hurricane Fran came through and we still have poles leaning. The lines are in such bad shape the slightest wind causes them to break. I have spoken with a couple of Progress Energy representatives and they have assured me that our situation in a priority for them. But this is the same promise we had after Fran,” cited Moore.
Harrells has an unusual situation in that both Progress Energy and Four County Electric Membership Corporation provide electrical service to the town. According to the aldermen, Four County has maintained and improved their lines and rarely has service interruptions but Progress Energy has lines that are so rotten they break easily.
“I just want the citizens of Harrells to know we are as disappointed as they are with the service provided by Progress Energy,” remarked the mayor.
In another matter, the aldermen voted to adjust their meeting times to follow the changes in Daylight Savings Time. Alderman Robbie Burley moved to meet at 7 p.m. during the months of Daylight Savings and to meet at 6 p.m. during the other months. The meetings in September and October will be held at 7 p.m.