February 4, 2016
I am very excited about the progress we are making with regards to our preparation to address some overdue issues during our scheduled work sessions meetings. I am also providing a list of upcoming community events, some of which will require the Town Board's approval.
We have scheduled work sessions for the third Wednesday of each month at 5:00 pm. We now need to decide the subject(s) for each meeting. The dates are as follows:
February 17, 2016 (I may be running late due to work schedule, but please start without me)
March 16, 2016
April 20, 2016
May 18, 2016
June 15, 2016
July 20, 2016
Installation of New Well – We need to discuss a plan of action for a new town well and identify any and all properties within town limits that may be considered for use for this project. We also need to work on identifying potential funding sources (grants and loans) that may be utilized to pay for this project.
Sewer System/Water Treatment – We received a very alarming report last month regarding the current status of our sewer and water treatment system. We now know that we need to start working on a plan of action to address the multiple problems concerning our water treatment system and identify potential funding sources (grants and loans) that may be utilized to pay for this project.
By-Laws - The Town Council needs to adopt procedural rules for how it will operate and govern the Town of Woodland, which would include a Code-of Conduct for the Mayor and Council Members, as well as a written explanation of the duties and responsibilities for each Commissioner Position. As I have learned in the “Orientation Class for New Mayors,” Town Boards should have a written guide to procedures.
This guide must take into consideration state statutes and the Town's Charter. This may require more than one work session. We can obtain a copy of the Northampton County's By-Laws to help us. We can also use the pamphlet, “Suggested Rules of Procedure for a City Council,” which is published by the Institute of Government.
Process for Releasing Records – We need to establish a written, standard operating procedure for releasing records. Many individuals and news agencies have been requesting copies of the Minutes from the 12/3/15 meeting and we need to set up a process by which any documents which come under the Public Information Act can and should be released, including the fees.
Financial Records and Budget – We need to have a work session in order to help the new members of the Town Council to understand the financial record keeping system of the town, which will help us to understand and assist in the preparation of the Annual Budget.
CADA Building – We need to address problems with the building which is the home of the Head Start Program, run by the Choanoke Area Development Association (CADA). It was brought to my attention that the the town owns the building and there may be an on-going problem with a leak in the roof. There are some other issues with regards to this building which requires our immediate attention.
Upper Coastal Plains Council of Governments – On January 19, 2016, I attended a meeting of the Upper Coastal Plains Council of Governments in Rocky Mount, as a newly appointed member of the Board of Directors. The organization, which is responsible for administering and coordinating some state and federal programs; is one of sixteen multi-county planning and development regions in the state. The counties comprising the Upper Coastal Plains organization are: Edgecombe, Halifax, Nash, Northampton, and Wilson. The UCPCG has the potential of be being a great resource for our town, as we prepare a strategy for planning and development, and attracting businesses to our town.
Northampton County Board of Commissioners – On January 20, 2016, I attended the evening meeting of the county's board of commissioners. I submitted a letter to the county board requesting that the members consider donating the playground equipment to Woodland, once they receive a grant to upgrade the playground equipment at the Wellness Center. The county recently received notification that it will be awarded the grant. I will be reaching out to the County Manager within the next few weeks to find out if they have made a decision about donating the older equipment to our town.
Documentary on Woodland's Solar Farm Issue – On Saturday, January 30, 2016, Commissioner Harkey and I met with four college students from the University of North Carolina in Wilmington. As part of a class project, the students have decided to produce a documentary about the Town of Woodland and the recent solar farm issue. The students will be making one additional trip to our town in the upcoming weeks to take more video footage of the town, before preparing the final product. They are anticipating completion of the documentary by late April, or early May. We will obtain a DVD copy for the town's records.
Letters from 91 Seventh Graders – We recently received a large package from Ms. Sonya Berger, a Science Teacher in Montgomery, New York. In her cover letter, she explained that her class is currently studying alternative energy sources and came across a slanderous article regarding Woodland's solar farm issue. Her students decided they would write letters in an effort to try to convince our town board to reconsider our decision regarding the use of solar energy. As a result, 91 students sent us letters. I have taken the time to read all of them and will be submitting a response to their concerns within the next week. I will also send them a copy of the DVD documentary upon its completion.
Essentials of Government Training: I am also very pleased to announce that I, along with Commissioners Pat Liverman and Cecil Harkey have been granted full scholarships to attend this two day training seminar. The training program is sponsored by the League of Municipalities and will be held in Greenville, NC on Friday March 4th and Saturday, March 5th. The regular cost for the training is $425 per person. This scholarship represents a huge savings for us.
This program will give us an opportunity to learn more about how best to serve this community and the citizens whom we represent. It will also provide us with the the mandatory two hour ethics training we are obligated to take. Additionally, we will also be provided with information regarding the specific duties and responsibilities each of us are assigned, as members of this organization. We currently do not have any written explanation of the specific jobs and duties of our commissioners. NO ACTION REQUIRED BY BOARD.
Weekly Line Dancing Social: We are considering putting together a weekly line dancing program, for the sake of getting our bodies moving (for health reasons) and having some fun. More information will follow, as to specific dates and location. NO ACTION REQUIRED BY THE BOARD.
PROPOSED TOWN-WIDE EVENTS
**Easter Parade (March 19, 2016 at 10:00 am) – My wife, Pattie and I, have been working on putting together an Easter Parade and an Easter Egg Hunt which we plan on becoming annual events for the Town of Woodland. We have been able to secure the Northampton High School Marching Jaguars Marching Band for the parade!! That was the first big step in trying to set up this event. We also tried to get the high school's JROTC Program on board, but their annual Military Ball is scheduled for the evening before and they will not be available.
Needless to say, we will most certainly want our own police department and fire department involved and participating as well.
The parade route will begin on Myrtle Street at Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church. We will turn left on Main Street and proceed to Cherry Street. We will turn left on Cherry Street and end at the National Guard Armory. The total distance is approximately 1.2 miles. ACTION REQUIRED BY BOARD.
Upon approval of this event by the Town Board, I will ask Chief Ruppe to please contact the appropriate agency and inform them of our intentions with regards to using State Highway 258 for this purpose. I believe that it will take approximately one hour for all of the participants to complete the parade route, so we should be done with the utilization of this road by 11 am.
Once approved, I will start contacting our local churches and ministers and ask them to please consider participating in our event. Kim has also provided me with a list of other agencies, companies and organizations in an effort to try to get as many participants as possible. We are hoping to have some floats and other vehicles, including (and hopefully) a motorcycle club. We will also be reaching out to our neighboring towns, to see if they would also like to participate.
We have secured the Armory, for the purposes serving refreshments following the parade and serve as a location for those requiring a lavatory. The Armory is free of charge, since this is a town-sponsored event.
We are asking the Town of Woodland to donate $100 for refreshments (hot dogs/buns, chips and water and juice). ACTION REQUIRED BY BOARD.
**Easter Bunny Costume - We are also seeking to purchase an Easter Bunny costume (which we will be able use repeatedly over the next few years. We have found costumes on the Amazon website and are asking the Town of Woodland to purchase the costume at a cost not to exceed $120, which should also cover the shipping. ACTION REQUIRED BY BOARD.
**Easter Egg Hunt (March 26, 2016 at 10:00 am) – We are planning an Easter Egg Hunt at the Recreation Field. We have approximately 800 plastic eggs (some of which we have purchased and others have been donated) for this purpose. ACTION REQUIRED BY BOARD.
There will be four age groups: 1-2; 3- 4; 5-7; and 8-10.
There will be a Golden Egg in each age group and smaller prizes in each age group. We figure 5 prizes for each age group (nothing very expensive, but nice).
We are seeking donations for prizes and jellybeans. We are also seeking volunteers to help us fill the eggs, distribute the eggs at the park and hand out prizes.
If we are unsuccessful in obtaining sufficient donations, we may have to come to the Town Board at the March 2016 meeting and request funds to offset the costs.
**National Day of Prayer (Thursday, May 5, 2016 at 11:00 am) - The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for our nation. It was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. Since its inception, this day has continually united Americans from all socio-economic, political, and ethnic backgrounds in prayer while also encouraging personal repentance and righteousness in the culture. The National Day of Prayer belongs to all Americans and is a day that transcends differences, bringing together citizens to celebrate our most beloved freedom; the freedom to humbly come before God and seek His guidance in prayer (taken from the National Day of Prayer website).
We will hold a brief service at Town Hall. I will be asking all of our churches and local ministers to participate, as well as anyone else who would like to attend. ACTION REQUIRED BY BOARD.
OTHER TOWN-WIDE EVENTS TO CONSIDER FOR 2016
Youth Day (June 25, 2016) – A special day to celebrate the youth of our Town (More information to follow).
National Night Out Against Crime (August 2, 2016) - National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, better places to live.
The National Night Out program culminates annually on the first Tuesday of August. Note: Texas (October) date is the first Tuesday of October. Neighbors celebrate across thousands of communities from all fifty states, United States territories, Canadian cities, and military bases worldwide (More information to follow).
Mayor's Ball (Saturday, September 17, 2016, from 7:00pm to 11:00pm) – We are planning a Mayor's Ball, a formal dinner party, which will include terrific food, great music and lots of dancing and partying. The event will serve as a fund raising activity to help offset the costs of some of the programs and activities I would like to create and sponsor in the Town of Woodland (More information to follow).
Craft Fair (Saturday, November 5, 2016) – We are looking forward to sponsoring our Second Annual Craft Fair. Last year's event was very successful and we will be working on trying to make it bigger and better than before!! We will provide more information about this event later in the year.
Veteran's Day Service (Friday, November 11, 2016) – We would like to have some kind of a special service, or program to honor all of our veterans in the Woodland area (More information to follow).
Christmas Tree Lighting & Caroling (Friday, December 2, 2016) – Last year, we had a fun time going throughout the neighborhoods of Woodland, singing our hearts out to our friends and neighbors. This year, I would like to have everyone come to Town Hall for a Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and Christmas Caroling. We can also serve hot chocolate and other refreshments. Even if we have to purchase an artificial tree!! We will provide more information about this event later in the year.
Christmas Party For Children (Saturday, December 17, 2016, from 9:00 am to 10:30 am) – We are considering the prospect of sponsoring a Christmas party for the young people of our community (ages 1 to 10). We will provide more information to later.
Christmas Luncheon For Seniors (Saturday, December 17, 2016, from 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm) – More information will be provided later.
OTHER EVENTS TO CONSIDER
Saturday morning recreational programs
Movies in the park
Thanksgiving Dinner for seniors and lonely citizens (November 19, 2016)
Monthly Bingo, or game nights for seniors
Farmer's Market in the summer
2017 ACTIVITIES (all of the above plus)
Valentine's Day Dinner/Dance
NEW COMMITTEES – SEEKING VOLUNTEERS
I have am now seeking volunteers to come forward and assist us with the many programs and activities that we are trying to create and establish in the Town of Woodland. These programs will help to create a more active community for all of our citizens. I would like to get representatives from all of the various neighborhoods in the town on each committee. This will hopefully also help to bring our town together and take us one step closer to being a “Community of Friends.”
Special Events Committee – This committee will be responsible for creating and establishing special town-wide events. Examples would be: The Woodland Craft Fair, our Town-Wide Yard Sale, Christmas Caroling and/or Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, Easter Parade (with assistance and participation from local churches), Easter Egg Hunt, National Day of Prayer, Woodland Day (to celebrate the Town of Woodland, its history and its citizens), First Night Out (for safe neighborhoods and public safety), Youth Day.
Recreation Committee – This committee would be responsible for the establishment and oversight of regular, town-wide recreational activities. Examples would be: Programs for Senior Citizens (such as a meal/feeding program, perhaps similar to meals on wheels), Youth Recreation Program, After-School Program to not only work with school work, but to also teach young people life skills (such as sewing, ironing, filling out a job application, balancing a check book, etc.), or teaching them through hands-on work about the building trades (such as small engine repair, carpentry, plumbing and brick masonry).
Grant and Fund Raising Committee – This committee would be responsible for helping to identify and secure various sources for raising money for various town projects, such as the installation of the new well, the repairs for the water treatment system, recreational activities and special events.
Ministerial Alliance – I will start contacting our local clergy for the purposes of creating a Ministerial Alliance. There is a lot of work that needs to be done in Woodland and we need the support, guidance and leadership of our spiritual leaders to assist us with the many tasks at hand.
August 2016 Meeting - On August 3, 2016, Pattie and I will be in Florida, attending the wedding of our son, Joseph Salem. As a result, I will not be able to attend the regularly scheduled Town Council Meeting on Thursday, August 4, 2016. The Town Council has a choice to either have the meeting as scheduled, or re-schedule the meeting for the following week, August 11, 2016.
Northampton County Planning Board – I was contacted by Ms. Virginia Spruill, a member of the Northampton County Board of Commissioners. Ms. Spruill asked that I identify someone from the Town of Woodland to serve as a representative on the Northampton County Planning Board. The responsibilities of the Planning Board include conducting studies within its jurisdiction; determining objectives to be sought in the development of the county; developing and recommending policies, ordinances and administrative procedures for carrying out plans; advising the County Commissioners concerning how to carry out the plans; and preforming related duties as directed by the Commissioners.
I am asking anyone who may be interested to please let me know. It would be a tremendous asset, if one of our town commissioners would volunteer for this important organization. I will not volunteer for this board, because I need to focus on working with the programs and activities I have outlined in this report. I have to be careful to not over-extend myself, because I want these programs to be successful and they require my full attention.
Special Thank You – I would like to extend a very special “Thank You” to our Public Works Department, who worked so hard to repair a water main break on January 28, 2016. The men were on the scene from about 3pm in the afternoon until almost 10pm that evening. We are so fortunate to have them working in our town. They have saved the Town of Woodland thousands of dollars over the years, because of their skill, knowledge and expertise.
Many citizens called Town Hall on that day, asking why there was no water pressure in their homes. I stayed in the office until 6:30pm, and fielded several telephone calls from people who returned home from work late in the day and found they had no water.
It is for this reason, that I have asked our Town Clerk, Kim Bryant, to research a telephone system that we may be able to employ to notify our town citizens in the case of such emergencies. Similar to the system the county uses to notify citizens of weather emergencies and office closings.
**Employee Appreciation Day (Friday, March 12, 2016, at 12 noon) - I believe that we are very fortunate to have such good, high quality people working in the Town of Woodland. As far as I am concerned, they are all top notch people and deserve our appreciation. It is for that reason, that I would like to Sponsor an Employee Appreciation Luncheon, as a token of our appreciation for their collective efforts in helping to keep Woodland functioning as a smooth, safe, efficiently run town.
This affair will be simply for the Town's employees and Town Commissioners. Pattie and I will take care of all of the food. I would just like to take an hour out of the day to serve all of you, in appreciation for the way that you have been serving all of us. ACTION REQUIRED BY BOARD.