January 5, 2017
For this report, I want to share with you a review of all of the many things that the Town Board and the citizens of the Town of Woodland have accomplished over the past 12 months. One year ago, on December 3, 2015, I was sworn in as the Mayor for the Town of Woodland. Additionally, Pat Liverman and Cecil Harkey were sworn in as Town Board Commissioners. We joined Commissioners David Cooper and Ron Lane to create the new Town Board. As I celebrate my One-Year Anniversary, I look back at the past 12 months with great pride.
In February, Commissioner Harkey became ill and decided to resign from the Board. Through an open and democratic process, the Board Members decided to appoint Barbara Outland to the Board, to serve out the remainder of Commissioner Harkey's term of office.
TOWN BOARD ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Work Sessions: The Town Board scheduled numerous Work Sessions in an effort to address a variety of important issues, which could not be resolved during the course of regular Board Meetings. As a result, 8 Work Sessions were scheduled over the course of the year. They proved to be very successful.
Installation of New Well (2/17/16) – The Board identified a location for a new well. We also received notification from the State of North Carolina that the town was awarded a grant/loan for the installation of the new well. We hired the engineering firm of Rivers and Associates to assist us with the process.
Sewer System/Water Treatment (3/16/16) – In December 2015, the Board received a very alarming report from the Wooten Company, regarding the deteriorating status of our sewer and water treatment system. We hired the engineering firm of Rivers and Associates to conduct a Flow Study and to also assist us in submitting an application to the State for financial assistance.
Financial Records and Budget (4/20/16) – This meeting served as an introduction for the new Board Members to learn and understand the financial record keeping system of the town. This information was essential in assisting us to help prepare the Annual Budget for 2016-2017.
CADA Building (5/18/16) – The Board established a plan of action to address concerns regarding the building which is the home of the Head Start Program, run by the Choanoke Area Development Association (CADA). As a result of this meeting, we developed a plan of action to repair the leaking roof and broken air conditioning units. We also addressed CADA's delinquent rent and water bill payments. The Board agreed to have the Public Works Director schedule and perform quarterly, on-site visits to the Head Start Building to stay on top of building maintenance.
By-Laws (6/15/16) - The Town Council agreed 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.
Process for Releasing Records (7/20/16) – During this meeting, the Board established a standard operating procedure for releasing records. As a result of the Solar Farm Issue, many individuals and news agencies were requesting copies of the Minutes from the December 3, 2015 Board Meeting. The Board needed to set up a process by which any documents which come under the Public Information Act can and should be released, including the fees.
401-K Supplemental Retirement Plan (10/21/16) – Members of the Town Board met with Mrs. Diane Swindell, a Retirement Education Counselor and a representative for the North Carolina Supplemental Retirement Program. As a result of the meeting, for the first time in the history of the Town of Woodland, employees were given the opportunity to participate in the 401-K Supplemental Retirement Program. The program is completely voluntary. Each employee has the freedom to choose whether or not they wish to participate. There is no additional cost to the town.
Town Planning Board (11/8/16) – The Town Board met with members of the Planning Board and the Zoning Administrator. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss a recent recommendation made by the Planning Board and to also ensure the Planning Board Members that the Town Council respects and appreciates the Planning Board and the work that is done. It was emphasized that the Town Council relies on the expertise and recommendations of the members of the Planning Board to help this town operate in a just and proper fashion.
Retirement of Robbie Collier: After over 28 years of dedicated and committed service, Robbie Collier, the Public Works Director for the Town of Woodland retired on December 22, 2016. Robbie distinguished himself as a public servant in this community and he will be missed. Due to his skills and vast knowledge, he and his staff saved the Town of Woodland tens of thousands of dollars in maintenance and repairs on our roads, drinking water and waste water systems. The town is deeply indebted to him and the Town Board wishes him and his wife, Pam, the very best in their retirement years.
Promotion of Raymond Eaton: During the Board Meeting on November 3, 2016, the Board promoted Raymond Eaton to the position of Public Works Director. Mr. Eaton commenced his new duties on December 22, 2016. He has been employed by the Town of Woodland for over 7 years as a member of the Public Works Department. He also serves as the Town's Zoning Administrator. We wish Raymond the very best in his new position.
Hiring of Jessica Griffey to the Maintenance Department: During the Board Meeting on December 1, 2016, the Board decided to hire Jessica Griffey as the newest member of our Public Works Department. Jessica's experience and energy will undoubtedly serve her well in her new position. We wish her the very best in her new career.
ACCOMPLISHMEMNTS of TOWN CITIZENS
Establishment of Committees: As Mayor, I found the need to establish several committees, in an attempt to assist the efforts of some of the town's citizens to create a more active community for everyone. The plan was to get representatives from all of the various neighborhoods in the town on each committee to help spread the workload, and to also share with the leadership and problem solving issues of the town. It was hoped that these efforts would help to bring our town together and take us one step closer to being a “Community of Friends.”
Special Events Committee – This committee is responsible for creating and establishing special town-wide events. Examples would be: The Woodland Craft Fair, our Town-Wide Yard Sale, Christmas Caroling Program, Easter Parade, Easter Egg Hunt, National Day of Prayer, First Night Out Against Crime, Veteran's Day Program and Family and Friends Day.
Recreation Committee – This committee is responsible for the establishment and oversight of regular, town-wide recreational activities. Examples would be: Programs for Senior Citizens (such as a game night, trips for shopping and lunch), Youth Recreation Programs, After-School Programs to not only work with school work, but to also teach young people life skills (such as filling out a job application and balancing a check book), 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 is responsible for helping to identify and secure various sources for raising money for various town-wide recreational activities, programs and special events.
Beautification Committee – This committee is a sub-committee of the Special Events Committee and is responsible for helping to spruce up and beautify the open spaces of our town. It is through the efforts of the Beautification Committee, Commissioner Ron Lane and other dedicated and committed citizens, that the town has began work on a Memorial Park next to Town Hall.
Woodland Community Outreach, Incorporated – Members of the Special Events Committee felt the need to create an “umbrella organization” to assist the committees in raising money for the various activities. This new organization, Woodland Community Outreach, Inc., was registered by the State of North Carolina on September 6, 2016. Woodland Community Outreach 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.
Town-Wide Activities: As a town and as a community, we have participated in a lot of activities including: two craft fairs; an Easter Parade; an Easter Egg Hunt; a National Day of Prayer Service; three Summer Youth Days; an evening to celebrate the National Night Out Against Crime; a Back-to-School-Give-Away; a Family Fun Day; a Veteran's Day Program; the Third Annual Deer Hunting Competition (sponsored by the Woodland Volunteer Fire Department); a Thanksgiving Luncheon for our Senior Citizens (sponsored by our faith based organizations); and our Inaugural Christmas Celebration. Many of these activities and programs were done for the first time here in Woodland!!
Solar Farm Issue: In addition to all of these things, the Town of Woodland made international headline news due to the Solar Farm Issue that resulted from comments made at the Board Meeting held on December 3, 2015, and the Board's decision to issue a one-year moratorium on the consideration of additional solar farms in the town.
Due to the extensive news coverage, a group of college students from UNC Wilmington came to Woodland to create a documentary and report on the true facts regarding the Solar Farm Issue. We now have the documentary on DVD!!
SUFFICE IT TO SAY...THIS HAS BEEN ONE HECK OF A YEAR!!!
I offer my sincerest thanks to all of you who have supported me in my efforts, shared an encouraging word, or simply pulled me aside to offer a critical, yet appreciated suggestion of how I should proceed on a certain issue. It has certainly been a tremendous learning experience.
I pray that the new year will bring more great days and accomplishments for all of us in this community. I ask that you please keep me in your prayers, and I promise to keep each of you in mine. May God Continue To Bless Each Of You, This Day and Always!!