Last updated: August 15. 2014 8:31AM - 401 Views
By - switten@civitasmedia.com

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ST. PAULS — The St. Pauls Board of Commissioners voted Thursday to apply for a state grant to make more than a half million dollars in improvements to the town’s water and sewer systems.

Town Administrator J.R. Steigerwald said the grant would be used to replace about 1,900 linear feet of sewer on Elizabeth Street to the sewer plant. The sewer lines on Ross, Stack and Clark streets would also be relined, he said.

The work is expected to cost $600,000. The town could seek up to $3 million.

The deadline is Oct. 2 to apply for the Community Development Block Grant from the North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources.

If the grant is won, the improvements could take about seven months to complete, according to Steigerwald.

The board held a public hearing before Thursday’s vote to allow public input on the application. No one spoke.

In other business, the board voted to appoint members to two recently-revived boards — the Cemetery Commission and the Tourism Development Authority Board.

Appointees to the Cemetery Commission are Doris Godfrey, Duncan Mackie, Beth Ward and Ronald McDonald. Mayor Gordon Westbrook and Commissioner Buck Terry will also serve on that board.

Steigerwald said the purpose of the commission was to address how Oak Ridge Cemetery is maintained and used. Town officials have expressed concern that a number of plot owners have failed to observe rules that prohibit things like chain link fences and cider blocks around gravesites at the cemetery on West Broad Street near Interstate 95.

“I had a complaint today about how junkie it is out there,” Commissioner Elbert Gibson said. “Something needs to be done.”

The Cemetery Commission is also expected to make recommendations on how many plots can be sold per customer.

“There is far more demand for single lots,” Steigerwald said.

The commissioners also appointed five people to the Tourism Authority Board. The town first appointed an authority in 2005, but that TDA board disbanded after several years.

Steigerwald said the state Treasurers’s Office flagged a recent audit because St. Pauls had not provided a budget for a Tourism Development Authority from the 6 percent tax the town collects from businesses in the hospitality district.

“It is a requirement of the enabling legislation that a separate governing board be appointed by the town board to legally receive the accommodation tax funds,” Steigerwald told the commissioners.

The TDA can spend money on Fourth of July fireworks; the Night Out series; lighting on the interstate; tourism brochures; a new welcome sign; and repairs and maintenance to the Scout Hut and the R.E. Hooks Community Building.

“This group will need to meet a minimum of four times a year, adopt a budget, ensure that two reports are submitted in a timely fashion and help develop a program for marketing the town of St. Pauls,” Steigerwald said.

Appointed to the TDA board were: Sue Garrett, president of the St. Pauls Chamber of Commerce; Sam Patel, manager of the Days Inn; and Kenneth Rust, franchise owner of McDonald’s. Also appointed were Commissioner Elbert Gibson, a former convenience store owner in the district, and Commissioner Ghee Johnson, who serves on the N.C. Folk Arts Festival board.

Also on Thursday, the board voted to hold a public hearing Sept. 11 on Walmart’s request for voluntary annexation. Bringing the 4.7-acre parcel into the town was one of the conditions for the retail giant locating in St. Pauls. The grocery store is expected to be completed by November.

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