July 7, 2016
As we enter into the long days of summer, I believe that the members of our Town Board can be proud of what we have been able to accomplish during the first half of this calendar year.
We weathered the storm of the solar farm fiasco, which took place following our December 3, 2015 meeting. We have sponsored an Easter Parade, an Easter Egg Hunt, a Town-Wide Yard Sale, a National Day of Prayer Celebration, and a Youth Fun Day. During the month of December, we also traveled through all of the neighborhoods in Woodland and sang Christmas Carols, while handing out candy canes and Christmas cards.
We even hosted four college students, who wanted to create a documentary on the Town of Woodland, describing the true story of our decision to issue a moratorium on solar farms. All of these things were accomplished and we still made time to adopt a new budget for Fiscal Year 2016-2017.
Additionally, we received notification that we were to receive a grant and loan package from the State of North Carolina, which will help us to install a new well. We are also preparing to submit a request for financial assistance to help us repair our deteriorating sewer system. All in all, not bad for only six months worth of work.
We were saddened by the resignation of Commissioner Cecil Harkey, but rejoiced at the appointment of our newest member, Barbara J. Outland, owner of the Grapevine Cafe.
We have had five Work Session Meetings over the past six months and have been able to accomplish a lot of much needed work. We also had to make some tough decisions at times. The important thing is that we made those decisions together, as a team. I think that we have much to be proud of and
I am looking forward to the future of Woodland with great optimism.
REPORT ON PREVIOUS WORK SESSION ON JUNE 15, 2016
By Laws – We reviewed the By-Laws of the Town of Garysburg, as well as the Northampton County Commissioners Procedures Manual. We discussed some of the features we would like to see in the By-Laws for the Town of Woodland and agreed to try to have them completed and adopted by March 2017. The Town of Woodland was chartered on March 9, 1883. In March 2017, the town will become 133 years old.
We agreed that the by-laws will include specific information pertaining to the duties and responsibilities of each Town Board Member, as well as the duties and responsibilities of the various town departments. We will also include some general information regarding the work practices and conduct of town employees.
In an effort to obtain a copy of the town's original by-laws from the State of North Carolina, Commissioner Pat Liverman contacted the State of North Carolina. During her inquiry on June 22, 2016, Commissioner Liverman was informed by an employee of the Secretary of State's Office for the State of North Carolina, that there is no record indicating that the Town of Woodland is recognized as an incorporated entity.
On July 6, 2016, Mayor Manuel contacted Mr. John Bridgers of the Land Records Management Division of the Secretary of State Office for the State of North Carolina. According to Mr. Bridgers, a town is created by the state legislature, “They are the gods and do not require a stamp of approval from the Office of Secretary of State.” He further stated that Woodland is recognized by the state as a legitimate town and the person, with whom Commissioner Liverman had spoken, was in error.
Roanoke Chowan Development Association (CADA) – On June 22, 2016, I met with Ms. Sally Surface, Director of CADA, along with Mr. Melvin Powers, Deputy Director and Ms. Rosa Tyner-Bond. This meeting served as a follow-up to an earlier conversation between Ms. Surface and myself and also as a follow-up to the on-sight inspection conducted by Public Works Director, Robbie Collier and myself on May 27, 2016.
Ms. Surface requested that in the future, the Town of Woodland submit an invoice to CADA, which will then trigger a check to be printed and submitted for the payment of rent. She expressed concern over certain safety issues at the Head Start building, including the electrical panel box (which may need to be replaced) and the leaking roof, which could result in mold on the inside of the building.
She instructed Ms. Tyner-Bond to contact Robbie Collier, so that they can schedule an appointment with an electrician to look at the panel box. Ms. Surface said that they are required to address any safety issues quickly and if the building owner is not able to repair the problem in a timely manner, they are required to have the problem resolved and then submit the bill to the building's owner.
I told Ms. Surface that the Town of Woodland is very much interested in continuing our long-standing relationship with CADA. It is unfortunate that there was not as much communication going on between the two organizations in past years, but we will be working on doing a much better job in the future. I also asked Ms. Surface and Ms. Tyner-Bond to please let the Town of Woodland know whenever any repairs are required.
We are currently awaiting written estimates to have the two air conditioners repaired on the roof and to also have the roof resurfaced.
During our meeting, we also discussed the possibility of selling the Head Start building to CADA. Ms. Surface said that it is a very long process for them to purchase a building. A process that could take up to two years before obtaining approval from the Federal Government. Ms. Surface and Mr. Powers stated that there is no guarantee that the request would be approved and governmental agencies would definitely take into consideration the amount of money CADA has already spent on the building in upgrades and repairs. They installed the seven air conditioners on the roof, ten years ago and they also replaced all of the windows in the building.
We have scheduled work sessions for the third Wednesday of each month at 5:00 pm. There is now only one more remaining. These meetings are always open to the public and the public is welcomed and encouraged to attend.
July 20, 2016: 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.
PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE TOWN BOARD AND COMMUNITY COMMITTEES
According to Walt Pierce, our insurance agent, the Town of Woodland should be supporting town activities. This will ensure coverage, should a liability issue occur.
We now need to get signs printed and posted concerning the use of Woodland Park. To this end, I have asked Robbie Collier to look into obtaining some estimates for us.
As leaders of this town, we need to understand and come to terms with the fact that the events and activities that have been sponsored by the Special Events Committee and the Recreation Committee are activities which the citizens of the town are creating and establishing for the benefit of all members of our community.
Theses organizations and these activities require the support and backing of the leaders of this town. It is our duty and our obligation to help support our citizens and this community. They cannot operate to their full capacity without a partnership of the Town of Woodland. We have already seen how well the Easter Parade, the Easter Egg Hunt and the National Day of Prayer celebration were received by our community.
Special Events Committee – The Special Events Committee has now been established and recently elected new officers: Donielle McDermott, Chairperson; Lynn Lane, Vice Chairperson, Vanessa A. Council,Secretary. The SEC will be responsible for creating and establishing special, town-wide events, such as the Easter Parade, the Easter Egg Hunt and the Craft Fair. The next meeting of the Special Events Committee will be on Monday, July 18, 2016, at 5:00 pm at Town Hall. All are welcome to come and join.
Recreation Committee – The next meeting for the Recreation Committee will be on Thursday, July 14, 2016,m at 6:00 pm at Town Hall. All are invited to attend and join in the discussion. The meeting is scheduled to last for one hour.
This committee will be responsible for the establishment and oversight of regular, town-wide recreational activities. Examples would be: Programs for Senior Citizens, a Youth Recreation Program, After-School Program to not only to help with school work, but to also teach young people life skills (such as 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 will be responsible for helping to identify and secure various sources for raising money for various town events and activities such as recreational activities and special events.
Woodland Community Outreach, Inc. - The Special Events Committee is currently in the process of establishing an “umbrella organization”which will be called “Woodland Community Outreach, Inc.” This organization will be applying for non profit status with the state of North Carolina and will operate as an independent and separate entity from the Town Council; however, it will still require the Town's support with regards to co-sponsoring its activities. Not so much for financial support, but moral support; by lending the Town of Woodland's name to its events and activities for insurance purposes.
The Special Events Committee, the Recreation Committee and the soon to be created Grants and Fund Raising Committee will operate under Woodland Community Outreach, Inc.
Youth Fun Day – On June 25, 2016, we held our first Youth Fun Day event at the public housing complex. We had approximately 40 children and almost as many adults join us for the morning activities. The event which was co-sponsored by the Special Events Committee and the Recreation Committee, proved to be very successful. The children enjoyed playing baseball, kickball, tug-of-war, jumping rope and a three-legged race. We have two more Youth Fun Days scheduled for July 23, 2016 and August 20, 2016. We are planning a Back-To-School Giveaway for the August 20th date. We are currently seeking donations.
Youth and Family Day - On Saturday, September 10, 2016, we are planning a Youth and Family Day for the Town of Woodland. More information will follow.
First Night Out Against Crime – The Special Events Committee and the Recreation Committee are planning on sponsoring a First Night Out Against Crime gathering on Tuesday, August 2, 2016, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. We will have members of various law enforcement agencies, first responders and our fire department. The purpose of First Night is to help establish strong, positive relationships between the law enforcement community and the citizens of Woodland, as well as learn about ways to keep safe and ways to prevent yourself from becoming a target of crime. This event is open to the public and is for all members of our community. We hope to see all of you there!!
STRATEGIC PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE OF WOODLAND
As members of the Town Council, we will need to seriously consider the future of Woodland and things that can be done to help ensure that this town will be able to continue to operate and function properly for future generations. As such, we need to start working on putting together some strategic plans that we can work on together, to help improve the community.
Capital Improvement Plan: As presented by Robbie Collier, we need to develop a Capital
Improvement Plan that will address the many areas of our Public Works Department, including our water supply, sewer system, streets, sidewalks and facilities (Town Hall, Town Shop, Old Town Hall and Head Start building).
Strategic Plan for Community Development: We need to start working on a plan to help better develop our community, by partnering with organizations like the Special Events Committee, the Men's Club and other organizations that are interested and concerned about the welfare and public safety of our citizens. The Upper Coastal Plains Council of Governments will be a great resource to assist us.
Strategic Plan for Economic Development: We need to start putting together a plan of attack for addressing our need for more commercial businesses to set up shop in the Town of Woodland. The Upper Coastal Plains Council of Governments and the Northampton County Board of Economic Development will be two great resources to assist us in this endeavor as well.