“We can have as nice a park as anywhere,” said Danny Macemore, who serves as the town’s park committee chairman, at the completion of his presentation on the committee’s recommendations to the Jonesville Town Council.
Macemore, who is lifetime resident of Jonesville and retired from Starmount High School as an educator and coach, said the park committee has been meeting for several months to develop ideas for enhancing and upgrading the park, which is located on Swan Creek Road.
The committee offered two recommendations to the council Monday night; immediately patching the park’s tennis courts to make them safe for playing on again and hiring a consulting engineering firm to prepare a master plan for the park.
Fixing the tennis courts, said Town Manager Scott Buffkin, would begin soon.
“It is a safety issue…with all the cracks now on the courts,” said Buffkin.
Those repairs will mean additional courts to the playing public just as the tennis courts at Elkin Municipal Park are being rebuilt, which will leave at least four unplayable during construction.
The town council also approved a $15,000 contract with Mcgill Associates of Asheville to develop a master plan for the park.
Developing a master plan for the park will also allow the town to compete for grants from the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF), which provides dollar-for-dollar matching grants to local governments for parks and recreation projects that serve the public.
Before the council decided to contract with Mcgill, Buffkin recommended the town move now to develop the park’s master plan.
“I would definitely go forward with developing the master plan…we need to get started as soon as possible,” said Buffkin.
That urgency to develop the master plan was because the PARTF grant funding process occurs only once each year and closes in January.
“We need to have it (the master plan) in place for the grant application,” said Buffkin.
Jonesville Mayor Lindbergh Swaim wanted to know if the Asheville firm had the experience and expertise to do what was needed to move the park project forward.
“Would Mcgill give us what we need?” Swaim asked Buffkin.
Buffkin told Swaim and the other town councilmen that Mcgill “had never been turned down for any PARTF grant it pursued.”
Buffkin, while explaining the grant process said PARTF was administered regionally, which, he said, essentially meant Jonesville would not be competing for the funding with potential projects along the coast of the state.
As for the dollar-for-dollar match the grant requires, Buffkin said the town has a “fair amount in reserves…we can put up as much we can put up.”
In other council business:
• The council set a public hearing on changing the zoning ordinance that prohibits LED signs from being displayed within town limits. The council was responding to a request from Michael Wilson of Riverview Holdings, which owns the Hampton Inn in Jonesville, to allow a LED sign to be placed at the entrance of the hotel advertising the facility’s amenities.
Wilson had asked for a variance, but the council decided it wanted to examine changing the ordinance since there is a LED sign already in operation at another of the town’s hotels.
• The council approved a funding request of $200, by Heather Macy, executive director of the Tri-County Christian Crisis Ministry, for a food program being implemented at Jonesville Elementary School.
Macy explained the backpack program is coordinated through the Food Bank of Winston-Salem and provides food to up to 50 students to take home for the weekend.
“They will take the backpack home on Friday, which is supplied with enough nutritious food for the weekend, and bring in back on Monday to be refilled for the following Friday,” said Macy.
She said that approximately 65 percent of the children attending Jonesville Elementary qualify for free or reduced lunch, which indicates the real need for this type of program.
“We have about 65 percent (of the students) going home on Friday with little or nothing to eat,” she said.
• The council also approved staggered terms for the board members of the Jonesville Tourism Development Authority. The terms of TDA board members Anita Darnell, Tim Couch, and Scott Buffkin will end on June 30, 2011. The terms of TDA board members Vanessa Caudill, Danny Lewis and Dale Swofford will end on June 30, 2012, and the terms of TDA board members Debra Clark and Gene Pardue will end on June 30, 2013.
• Jonesville Director of Utilities Tim Collins reported the final approvals for the proposed construction of a new Jonesville Water Plant are still in the pipeline. When asked what the holdups are, Collins said, “It is just the political red tape.”
He also said the town is nearing its goal of converting all of the residential water meters to radio readers, so recording monthly water usage data could be done just by driving by town residences and picking up the radio signal each meter sends out. Acknowledging the effort has been drawn out because meters are only replaced when new accounts are established at a rate of about 100 each year, Collins said the effort would eventually make the monthly meter reading much more efficient.
Collins also commended Public Works Director Roger Martin for his efforts to keep up the appearance of the town during the summer months and said that the department is “stretched to the limit.”
“We’re doing all we can with all we got,” said Collins referring to all the mowing needed during the summer. Given the workload, he said two employees could mow all week and do nothing else just to keep up.
• Jonesville Fire Chief Keith Macy reported there were 35 fire and rescue calls for the month of July. He also reported the department is still waiting to hear from the state and federal government on grant requests for a new fire truck and vehicle exhaust venting system for the station.
• Jonesville Police Chief Roger Reece reported on the monthly incident report and arrests. He said the department cleared 60 percent of the cases reported. He reported there were 20 arrests, 16 for driving while intoxicated, four for assault, six felony arrests and seven vehicle accidents.
He also reported the department’s K-9 car had developed mechanical problems – the engine seized.
Chief Reece said the K-9 unit would be out of service until a replacement vehicle could be found.