RONDA — The town of Ronda has been through some big changes in 2016 and not all of them have been noticeable. Most will make for an exciting 2017 and beyond.
The most significant change has occurred at Town Hall. “Following the disaster we had with the office, having competent people in the office for a change,” stated Mayor Victor Varela, who is almost as excited about the QS1 accounting program explaining that previously the town had been using the inadequate QuickBooks program, which was not intended for municipalities.
Town consultant Ron Niland expounded, “That was huge. This will allow the board to get financial reports that are tied to the budget.”
According to Niland, most places in North Carolina pay from $30,000 to $50,000 for appropriate software. “For small towns, these programs are very expensive. This is Cloud-based so we don’t have to carry our own server.”
Since one of the goals for the future of Ronda is customers paying water and sewer bills electronically, the QS1 software will do more than just help re-organize. Varela believes the change will “save the town a lot of money and give the staff more time,” which is part of the reason the town is going to “add more services to the website like taking debit and credit payments.”
Varela is proud of the website in spite of a recent hacking incident and is eager for it to be used to help enhance other programs for Ronda residents. “Our website is a great source of information,” claimed Varela, who hopes it will help facilitate the library program being worked out with the Wilkes County Public Library.
“The Little Library has expanded,” stated Varela, revealing, “we are working on establishing services with the public library. We hope to have couriers,” who will drop off and pick up books at the Town Hall, which was equipped last year with free wifi.
The building itself also will receive some upgrades, according to Niland. “We have budgeted this year to do some improvements to Town Hall.” Carpet, paint and new furniture are expected to improve the small meeting room and office area this year while plans to do more with the building will be discussed.
The town has had improvements as well, which is expected to continue over the next year. “We are going to try to do some physical enhancements,” explained Niland, describing curb and gutter repairs as well as drainage issues. “We took care of 450 feet last year, and we are looking to do much more as we go forward.”
The waterlines extension has been an ongoing project and will continue to stretch toward Clingman and Roaring River. “My vision is that we’ll have a nice connected waterway through the Tri-County,” claimed Varela.
Economic and cultural improvements are also in process for Ronda. Niland and his business partner and brother Gary have been working on the Yadkin River Greenway Project and are now looking at grants to help purchase land and easements that have been identified as appropriate for the greenway. Varela hopes that, “following through with improvements on our public park like adding public restrooms,” will add to the overall improvement of town experience for residents as well as encourage visitors.
The Ronda festival also will be revitalized bringing visitors and funds to the area and is projected to take place in the fall.
“We are going to develop what we can,” stated Niland, “and be the best we can as a town.”
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.