RED SPRINGS — Edward “Chub” Henderson was sworn in Tuesday as Red Springs newest mayor before an overflow crowd of family and friends.
Outgoing Mayor John McNeill, who served as a town commissioner and mayor for a combined 42 years, passed the gavel to Henderson, who is the town’s first black mayor.
“It was a great honor to serve Red Springs and its citizens,” McNeill said. “We met many challenges and there will be many more in the future.”
For his part, Henderson said he is “humbled and honored” by the new responsibility.
“I hope that I will live up my oath of office,” he said.
Elma Patterson and Neil Lea’kes were installed to four-year terms on the Board of Commissioners. After being sworn in by District Court Judge Herbert Richardson, they got down to work.
A conditional-use permit to establish an auto repair shop on a three-acre tract in a residential area off Shannon Road in an area known as the pecan grove was unanimously denied by the commissioners.
Planning Board Chairman Wilson Ray said the shop would be incompatible in the residential neighborhood located on the town’s northern edge. The Planning Board recommended the entire area be rezoned to residential in the future.
The town is moving forward with engineering plans to replace its aging water plant. Town Manager James Bennett said he met with U.S. Department of Agriculture officials about the planned loan and grant for an estimated $1.8 million.
“The water plant has outlived its useful life of 40 years,” Bennett said. “We believe that Hurricane Matthew damaged one of the walls, which is leaning.
“If we do nothing, we’ll be in serious trouble.”
A preliminary engineering report will cost $30,000 for a water plant that can purify 1.5 million gallons a day. No timeline for construction has been set.
Red Springs is installing smart meters to monitor water and electricity remotely. Public Works Director Tim Mauldin reported that nearly 500 water meters have been installed. About 1,100 more are needed to complete the project.
Three homes on Thurlow Street that were damaged by flooding from Hurricane Matthew have been approved for state-funded repairs, Bennett said. Seven homes were proposed and three selected.
“This is the first round of many more homes to be approved,” Bennett said. “The state will reimburse the homeowners.”
The town is working to clear ditches and improve storm sewers, but problems persist, the town manager said.
“The area backs up to a swamp, and if we get more than seven inches of rain it will flood again,” Bennett said. “There is no remedy for the amount of rainfall we got.”
Scott Bigelow may be contacted at email@example.com or by calling 910-644-4497.