Pembroke plant adds 100 workers

By: Tomeka Sinclair - Staff writer

PEMBROKE — The Pembroke Town Council learned Monday that a local dessert-producing plant has generated more than 100 new jobs since early April.

Keith Downing, SROriginals’ general plant manager, told council members that after signing a major contract with Publix Super Market Inc. in March, more than 100 workers have been added to meet the demand since production of 11 types of cakes began on April 3.

“It confirms the confidence the company has in Pembroke,” Downing said. “This brings job security.”

The Pembroke plant was chosen because of its location, he said. The ingredients for the cakes are produced in Florida, where the company is based. The high elevation in Colorado, where the company was producing the cakes, wasn’t conducive to meeting baking consistency standards.

“Pembroke’s elevation is at sea level, which is ideal for the cakes,” Downing said.

Some skilled workers at the plant have received pay raises and other workers have had an increase in hours, Downing said.

“The workers have been elated,” he said.

About 350 workers were employed before April.

In other business, the council tabled three agenda items Monday.

The first was a conditional-use permit request for 703 and 705 W. Third St. that would have allowed the establishment of a private club. The property is directly across from The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Council members tabled the matter during their April 2 meeting and sent it to the Planning Board, which recommended approval.

Councilman Larry McNeill said Monday he is worried that the owners will not be able to keep up with and properly screen members.

“This has been a problem in the past,” he said.

He and Councilman Channing Jones said they wanted to see an application for membership before the full council took up the request at its next meeting.

The applicant, Eric Locklear, said he would provide that as early as Tuesday morning.

Council members also tabled a change to an ordinance that prohibits temporary vendors from setting up at Milton R. Hunt Memorial Park unless they have a permit.

The proposed ordinance would allow set-up a week before, during and a week after Lumbee Homecoming, when dozens of food, arts and crafts, and other vendors descend on Pembroke around the July Fourth holiday.

Another tabled ordinance was an initiative to add downtown design guidelines to the town’s website. Town Manager Tyler Thomas said the ordinance would provide language and definitions that allow the town to hold developers and property owners accountable and give them a guide for proper procedures.

In other business, council members:

— Heard a presentation about school safety from Police Chief Ed Locklear. Locklear said the department has made walk-throughs at Pembroke Elementary School and Pembroke Middle School to identify flaws in the schools’ security procedures and suggest improvements.

— Heard a presentation from Lumber River Council of Government Executive Director David Richardson about the N.C. Tomorrow Plan, whose purpose is to help municipalities develop strategies and goals for community and economic growth.

Tomeka Sinclair

Staff writer

Tomeka Sinclair can be reached at 910-416-5865 or [email protected]

Tomeka Sinclair can be reached at 910-416-5865 or [email protected]