RONDA — Although recent hospitalization due to back problems kept Commissioner Manual Wood from attending the November work session of the Ronda Board of Commissioners, his presence was felt.
Fellow Commissioner Rheajean Benge lead the charge requesting the meeting to be recorded in order to be entered into official minutes.
With no one dissenting, several housekeeping items were discussed and set to be added to the budget for the regular meeting, which will take place at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
an increase to the flower budget, updating the official town holiday list and the approval for the resolution approving the local water supply plan, which is required to be done every five years, are expected to be passed Tuesday as well as corrections to the wording in the town water policy.
Also expected to be addressed again is Wood’s utilities.
“In your packet you have a map. I have done reading, research, talked to people and had help on this map,” said Benge, before explaining how the location of the line and the policies of the Yadkin Valley Sewer Authority as well as the town pertain to Wood’s sewer connection.
“It gave Manual Wood the privilege not to be hooked up to the sewer,” said Benge. “He is within his right, within his bound to not be hooked up. So therefore the town nor the sewer authority has the right to be billing him.”
Benge flushed through to the second half of the Wood water bottleneck.
“Manual Wood was hooked up to the water system and he paid faithfully until he claimed his meter was stolen,” said Benge, explaining that it was only when Wood reported the meter stolen that he was levied a $50 fine by the town.
“Our policy clearly states the water meter is the possession of the town, so why did the town have the right to charge him $50 for that meter?” asked Benge.
“Mr. Wood is constantly saying, ‘I want to get hooked up, wipe the state clean and I’ll be happy to pay my bill.’ Get him a meter in there and start charging that man,” said Benge, who also stated she thought an official letter of apology from the town was due to Wood.
“Now I think the town did an injustice to him and I think this town needs to write him a letter and clarify that he no longer owes a sewer bill, he does not show a water bill and I think that letter needs to be signed not only by the mayor, but the commissioners,” said Benge, “and I think it needs the town seal on it and I think that’s his right.
“I think it should be the end of this six-year battle,” said Benge, who continued her cleaning by taking on several draft ordinances the board had left out to dry.
“I’ve had a lot of people talking to me about the five ordinances that we have in play,” said Benge, citing a quarter of the town’s voting population.
“They are asking that the board shouldn’t be the only ones making the decision as to whether or not they’re passed,” said Benge. “They are wanting it to be put on the 2019 election ballot for the citizens to be voting on it.”
Benge said she had already contacted Republican Reps. Jeffrey Elmore and Shirley Randleman to inquire about the possibilities and asked for a declaration from the board to agree to wait for a response.
The board agreed to add Benge’s request to Tuesday’s agenda with the understanding that a future board could change the decision before the election.
Also added to the agenda was concern about local animal policies.
Commissioner Gene Fowler expressed distress that there were unleashed animals in spite of posted signs.
“Not long ago I helped a neighbor bury one that got run over right in front of my house. Then there’s been two around town hall and one of these dogs has bit several people in town,” alleged Fowler, who was himself unable to walk to a meeting due to a threatening animal.
“I’ve got dogs. I keep my dogs up,” said Fowler. “I think something needs to be done about this. If there’s a rule everybody should go about or just do away with it for everybody.”
Benge agreed stating health concerns.
“I just think the town of Ronda in general should not have animals coming into the town hall,” said Benge, “in any section of it at all. Service dogs will be the only exception.”
Benge noted signs had been recently purchased and had yet to be installed.
Benge also expressed concern about a discrepancy in the town bill to the Yadkin Valley Sewer Authority due to Carolina Fibers.
After explaining that the town of Ronda owed the YVSA $4,261.60 because Mayor Victor Varela agreed to a forgiveness for unprocessed water without prior approval from either the Ronda Board of Commissioners or the YVSA, Benge asked, “Is the town liable for the bill or is the bill directed at the mayor?”
“I think it’s a legal question,” said Varela.
“With you making the decision to waiver that or forgive that without board approval or without their approval, that’s where the question is lying,” said Benge. “Whose responsibility is this — yours or the sewer authority’s?”
“I’m on both boards so I’m in a pickle,” said Benge, who asked that the issue be discussed further during the meeting.
Ronda commissioners have encouraged their constitutes to attend meetings to be heard. The board meets at 6 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at the town hall located at 123 Chatham St. with a work session at 5 p.m. the preceding Thursday.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TBeanieTaylor.