LUMBERTON — The Lumberton City Council hired on Tuesday a project manager to oversee the renovation, demolition or elevation of 106 homes damaged by Hurricane Matthew almost two years ago.
In a separate discussion, a state-funded regional sewage treatment project that could stretch from St. Pauls to Fairmont and Cerro Gordo to Orrum was reviewed behind closed doors during the special council meeting.
Also, a debate over a sponsorship sign at Lumberton High School gave some insight into how the new six-member city council will resolve disputed issues. After a 3-to-3 vote, Mayor Bruce Davis broke the tie to give the sign the green light.
The Adams Company of Warsaw will be paid $1.9 million to hire staff, contractors, hazardous material inspectors, surveyors, engineers and attorneys to make the housing project happen. Floyd Adams, an engineer and general contractor, owns the company.
“We’ll get started as soon as possible, and we will make some progress in all three areas by the end of the year,” Adams said. “Acquisition of homes to be demolished will see the most progress.”
The $13 million federally funded Hazard Mitigation Grant Project will be completed over two to three years. Some progress will be made before the end of the calendar year. Forty-seven homes will be purchased, 23 will be elevated above the flood plain and 36 will be renovated.
“There will be bumps,” Adams said. “Somebody has to be first and somebody has to be last.”
There also was some good news, as Councilman Leroy Rising noted.
“In the end, they will be in a home that is better than the one they had before the flood,” Rising said.
After the executive session, Mayor Davis called the regional sewage treatment system “speculative.”
“The state is interested in setting up regional systems,” Davis said. “Small towns often have problems with sewage treatment.”
The Robeson County Board of Commissioners started the regional conversation when it began looking for a less expensive way to treat wastewater generated at the landfill near St. Pauls. The project expanded to include the towns of St. Pauls and Fairmont, which already operates a smaller regional system serving Fair Bluff and Orrum.
Lumberton has sewage treatment capacity of up to 20 million gallons daily, but is treating only 5 million to 6 million gallons.
Regarding the sign at Lumberton High, council members Owen Thomas, Leroy Rising and Karen Higley voted for erecting the sign, and John Cantey, Chris Howard and Wayne Robinson voted against it.
Two council seats are vacant because of the July 2 death of Leon Maynor and the resignation of Burnis Wilkins on Monday. Wilkins won the May 8 Democratic primary for sheriff of Robeson County.
Cantey objected to Mayor Davis’ name being in larger print than the eight council members and the proposed sign not having the names of the city manager, city and city clerk on it.
According to Rising, the sign is finished. Rising favored installing the sign rather than paying for another to be made.
Scott Bigelow can be reached at 910-644-4497 or [email protected]