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home : archive : archive May 18, 2022


4/21/2022 4:53:00 PM
OAK RIDGE town council
April 7 / MEETING HIGHLIGHTS
WHAT they voted on, and HOW they voted:
Mayor Ann Schneider, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Kinneman and council members George McClellan, Martha Pittman and Spencer Sullivan voted on the following items during the April 7 meeting. Early in the meeting, Sullivan was elected to replace Doug Nodine, who resigned his seat last month.


4 to 0: Elect Spencer Sullivan to replace council member Doug Nodine


5 to 0: Appoint Jim Harton to the Water Advisory Board


5 to 0: Instruct finance officer Sam Anders to transfer $17,660 to the restricted fund earmarked for developing the veterans' site in Heritage Farm Park


5 to 0: Accept a proposal to provide Wi-Fi coverage to Town Park at a cost of $15,352


5 to 0: Approve a budget transfer of $850 to the Special Events Committee




as reported by CHRIS BURRITT


OAK RIDGE - Mayor Ann Schneider called the regular monthly meeting in Town Hall to order, with Mayor Pro Tem Jim Kinneman and council members George McClellan and Martha Pittman present.


Finance Committee chair John Jenkins offered the invocation, which was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.


RESOLUTION, PRESENTATION


Arbor Day. Schneider proclaimed April 7 as Arbor Day in Oak Ridge, supporting national efforts to protect trees and woodlands. She noted the town has a Tree Committee and its efforts have led to Oak Ridge's recognition as a Tree City USA for four years.


Detectorists Club. President Rodney Joslin and other members of the Old North State Detectorists Club presented 19th century artifacts they recovered from two former farm properties in the town; the items, which included a Confederate saddle stirrup, two buckles and a button, have been mounted for display in Town Hall.


PUBLIC SAFETY


Sheriff's Office. Cpl. J. Swaringen reported the District 1 sheriff's office has responded to break-ins and thefts from more than two dozen unlocked vehicles in the Henson Forest neighborhood; investigators have identified a suspect in the incidents.


Swaringen said on the same day earlier this month, four people visiting Triad Park in Kernersville reported the theft of items from their locked cars. He urged motorists to put valuables out of sight even when their vehicles are locked.


Oak Ridge Fire Department. Chief Ken Gibson reported the department handled 54 calls last month, including 22 EMS-related calls, eight motor vehicle accidents and numerous grass and woods fires. He urged people to refrain from burning outside when it's dry and windy. Firefighters obtained 643 training hours.


COUNCIL APPOINTMENT


Council voted 4 to 0 to elect Spencer Sullivan, a former council member and mayor, to replace Doug Nodine, who resigned from the council last month. Following complimentary remarks by council members, Sullivan was sworn in by Town Clerk Sandra Smith.


"Come on up; we've got a seat waiting for you," Schneider told Sullivan, who immediately joined the four other council members in conducting town business.


MANAGER'S REPORT


Appointment


Council voted 5 to 0 to appoint Jim Harton to the Water Advisory Board.


Voluntary annexation update. Town Manager Bill Bruce said the town has received 10 voluntary annexation petitions from property owners ahead of the April 15 application deadline. Town staff is also processing 25 petitions from property owners whose applications were held over from last year.


Veterans Honor Green donations


Council voted 5 to 0 to instruct Sam Anders, the town's finance officer, to transfer $17,660 in first-quarter donations to the Veterans Honor Green to the restricted fund earmarked for developing the veterans' site in Heritage Farm Park. Led by the Special Events Committee and boosted by matching funds from the town, contributions for the estimated $150,000 project now exceed $95,000, Smith said.


NEW BUSINESS


Wi-Fi service in Town Park


Council voted 5 to 0 to accept a proposal to provide Wi-Fi coverage in Town Park at a cost of $15,352.


The bid by internet provider Netcom Cabling Inc. divided the work into three phases, starting with Wi-Fi coverage near the concessions stand, then at the amphitheater and playground, and then at the pavilion.


The council decided to proceed with the three phases at the same time, reducing the cost by $750.


"There will be some dead spots," noted Kinneman, explaining that internet coverage won't extend to the woods and some other areas of the park.


Internet service will cost the town about $75 a month, he said.


Saying she was playing "devil's advocate," Schneider suggested the town delay adding Wi-Fi coverage in the park until after construction of a cell phone tower on Oak Ridge Military Academy property, which she said may improve service for surrounding customers.


Kinneman said cellular service from the new tower wouldn't benefit users of devices such as tablets and laptops that rely upon hot spots to connect to the internet. McClellan said Wi-Fi coverage would ease transactions for food vendors during festivals and Oak Ridge Youth Association volunteers posting scores.


Pittman said Wi-Fi equipment in the park would create a base for additional services, such as technology to enable the hearing impaired to better enjoy concerts.


Sullivan recommended town staff post signs identifying areas of the park where Wi-Fi is available; which could also reinforce that coverage doesn't reach all corners of the park.


PUBLIC COMMENTS


A representative of Triad Hindu Temple on Alcorn Road invited the community to attend the temple's food and cultural festival Saturday, April 9. The event featured 11 vendors selling food, plus dancing and other activities.


Phyllis Clodfelter recommended the historic Redmon house in Town Park be renovated as a welcome center, a museum or a venue for family reunions and weddings.


"We have this heritage that can be saved and enjoyed by a lot of people," said Clodfelter, a lifelong Oak Ridge resident. She added the house represents the town's farming and rural character and suggested rocking chairs be placed on the porch as part of the restoration.


John Browning complimented the Special Events Committee for its efforts to construct Veterans Honor Green in Heritage Farms Park.


FINANCIAL UPDATE


Council voted 5 to 0 to approve a budget transfer of $850 from the town's fund balance to the Special Events Committee to purchase additional luminaries for the holiday display in the park. Buying the luminaries now will lock in the current pricing, according to Anders.


COMMUNITY UPDATES


Conservation Easement Committee. Vice Chair Ron Simpson reported the committee has scheduled an informational meeting for May 11, 4-6 p.m. at Town Hall to inform the public about the town's efforts to preserve property and historic structures by offering grants to enter conservation easements.


Special Events Committee. Chair Patti Dmuchowski reported the committee has begun selling engraved brick pavers for the Veterans Honor Green.


Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. Co-chair John Garrett reported the town has hired a park custodian to work from 4-9 p.m. to help with Oak Ridge Youth Association activities.


Finance Committee. The proposed budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 "looks good," Chair John Jenkins reported.


Anders said he is still waiting for commercial tax reassessment information from the Guilford County Tax Department. The town needs that information to determine how much Oak Ridge's property tax rate could be reduced to generate a revenue-neutral budget next fiscal year.


"I think it's important to look at that," said Sullivan, recommending a tax rate reduction.


Water Advisory Board. Sullivan reported that state regulators have approved Oak Ridge as a municipal water provider, meaning the town can operate and maintain a water system for residents. As a newly elected council member, Sullivan serves as the council's liaison to the board.


Historic Preservation Commission. Vice Chair Caroline Ruch reported the Historic Heritage Grants Committee received applications to fund improvements at the Donnell stone house on N.C. 150 and Maple Glade on Oak Ridge Military Academy's campus.


Planning and Zoning Board. Vice Chair Nancy Stoudemire said the Treasure Trees Committee plans to mark historic trees on town property as part of efforts to identify more valuable trees in Oak Ridge.


Mountains-to-Sea Trail Committee. Co-chair Anne Steele reported installation is progressing on the Linville Road informational kiosk at the trailhead for the Headwaters Trail.


Oak Ridge Youth Association. Randy Collins, ORYA's community relations director, reported some baseball teams are playing as late as 9 p.m. due to the increased number of teams this spring. Kinneman invited Collins to attend the April 27 meeting of the council's athletics subcommittee to discuss possible ways to resolve the late play.


Oak Ridge Elementary School. Principal Penny Loschin reported students have been gathering Crayons, coloring books, games, socks and other items to send to children in Ukraine.


COUNCIL COMMENTS


Sullivan praised town staff and volunteer committees and said he plans to catch up quickly on town business.


Pittman, Kinneman and McClellan thanked residents who expressed interest in replacing Doug Nodine on the council. They also reiterated their appreciation for Nodine's years of service to Oak Ridge.


Kinneman urged residents to get owners' permission before putting up campaign signs on their property. He added that committee meetings are open to the public and invited residents to attend.


Schneider thanked donors to the Veterans Honor Green.


"We have so many vets in our community and so many vets in our life," she said.


With no further comments, the meeting was adjourned about 8:35 p.m.







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