Topics set for commissioners’ retreat

By Wendy Byerly Wood -

The topics were set Monday night for the Elkin Board of Commissioners’ annual board retreat in February.

While some topics already were suggested by town staff, the commissioners also had a chance Monday to add any others which they wanted to be included during the retreat, which will be held Feb. 12 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Those suggested include the 2015 audit update and financial update; a presentation on the National Flood Insurance Program; a demonstration of the in-car and body cameras recently purchased by the Elkin Police Department; discussion of a policy addressing memorials and donations for park benches and tables throughout the town; a review of the Elkin Municipal Tax District (MSD) tax rate; an update on downtown parking since the enactment of the three-hour limit ordinance; CIP update; frequency of project update meetings; and the starting time for monthly board meetings.

Commissioner J.L. Lowe requested to add the topic of construction of a spec or shell building to the agenda, but Town Manager John Holcomb and Leslie Schlender, director of economic development for the town, asked to hold off on that topic since a meeting between Economic Development Committee and a potential developer is being planned. Holcomb said the topic could be brought from the Economic Development Committee during a regular meeting instead.

Mayor Lestine Hutchens announced she has a member of the lobbying group from the North Carolina League of Municipalities scheduled as a lunch speaker during the retreat. She reported discussion is underway at the state level to do away with the Powell Bill funding, which municipalities are granted by the state to help maintain town streets.

Holcomb suggested Hutchens also give an update on the Connect NC bond referendum during the retreat. The bond will be on the ballot on March 15 during the primary election.

In an update from Dr. Bill Blackley with the Elkin Valley Trails Association, he reported the second footbridge should be arriving to the area by May 6 with installation completed by June.

He also reported that 18 educational signs have been erected along the trail with 24 more planned for the future. Also, 20 native trees have been identified with markers thanks to the help of Joe Mickey.

Other additions planned include a series of bluebird boxes and wooden duck boxes.

“We are a new birding trail. A lot of people are coming up for this. There have been more birds identified on the E&A Rail Trail than Pilot Mountain or Stone Mountain state parks,” he told the commissioners. “One hundred twenty-seven species have been identified, some which have never been seen in Surry County like the Ross’s goose and bufflehead duck. Every year we find more.”

He also announced a community meeting will be held by the EVTA on Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. at The Elkin Center on North Bridge Street to allow for more people to get involved in the planning process.

In other action during the meeting, the commissioners unanimously appointed Denise Lyon to the Recreation and Parks Advisory Board.

Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.

By Wendy Byerly Wood

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