RONDA — Foul language and fouler moods caused an unexpected break to be called during the February meeting of the Ronda Board of Commissioners.
More than half the crowd contained former commissioners including Rheajean Benge, who is expected to continue her public service. Announcing she had been elected to serve on as secretary to the Yadkin Valley Sewer Authority Board during her report, Benge also noted the significant leaks which recently took place in Ronda due to January’s cold weather.
The board voted to work with the property owners of the leaks according to current adjustment allowances, providing they would not cost the town anything. They also will allow a reasonable payment program due to the fixed income of the victims of the weather.
According to Debra Goldman, who had been a Ronda commissioner, the weather has not caused the only victims of the town’s water.
“The water in Ronda is no longer potable,” claimed Goldman. “I’m wondering if you would like to come test the water at my house, because it smells bad, it’s gross, there are little things floating in it and that water tower should have been cleaned.”
Goldman alleged the water crisis has led to an increase in cancer, autism and Alzheimer’s because the board has permitted basic maintenance of the water tower to lapse.
“It should’ve been emptied, properly cleaned and repainted. I think seven years ago was when it reached its point when it was no longer safe. 2013 we were notified that we were already a few years behind. As a board we received several estimates. I don’t know what you all have been doing since then, but it’s now 2018 and it needs to be addressed, not in a few months.
“It needs to be addressed immediately,” said Goldman, “please, please, please I’m begging you to address the water tower.”
According to Mayor Victor Varela, this is on the agenda for the budget retreat scheduled for 11 a.m. March 21 at the Elkin Center of Surry Community College.
Although water is important to the survival of the community, it was not the cause of the greatest concern during the meeting.
As town ordinances manifested on the agenda, so did tempers.
“For several years, the ordinances have been talked about,” said former commissioner Kevin Reese, “and it’s created a lot of problems around Ronda. People in Ronda got along until people started talking about ordinances.”
“These ordinances have been going on since 2012, and that’s six board members that have been elected into office that have rejected these ordinances,” said Benge.
“Elections in my opinion have been weighed back-and-forth because of ordinances,” said Reese, who has run for mayor of Ronda in the past.
Reese described his past with board members including his uncle, Commissioner Manual Wood, who described the way the ordinances read, a property owner could have a horse eating off their porch.
Another member of the family, Andrew Wood, also was present where his passionate response to criticism from Commissioner Sandra Simmons was tempered by his uncle.
“People should have enough pride in themselves to keep their property looking good,” said Simmons in an attempt to clarify that the proposed ordinances were not directed at individuals, in spite of sounding like a mother instructing a teenager on the state of their bedroom.
“It’s a matter of common decency, pride in your property. The town people have to be proud of it,” said Simmons. “This is about pure cleanliness, beautification.”
Quick to note the Simmons property has not always been pristine, Commissioner Wood alleged he had personally helped dump items that were currently covered by dirt.
The meeting quickly deteriorated with a variety of accusations being made and continued verbal mud slinging.
“Everything you’re talking about is in the past,” said board newcomer Joann Royal, “we need to move on.”
No one will be moving forward with the ordinances, however, as the board voted to once again table them with a split vote. Commissioners Simmons and Kay Lufman voted against, Commissioners Royal and Helen Porter voted for, with Commissioner Wood’s lack of verbal response an affirmation.
Ronda commissioners meet at the town hall at 6 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month with a public work session at 5:30 p.m. the preceding Thursday.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TBeanieTaylor.