Council is impatient with work at station

Published 4:00 pm Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Community Editor

BELHAVEN — The Town Council is growing increasingly impatient with the pace of the renovations being made to the Belhaven fire station.
In a report to the council during its Monday meeting, Belhaven Code Enforcement Officer Marty Overholt said the station’s support beams, or columns, would be primed and painted, causing council members Steven Carawan and Mac Pigott to question the extra work.
The councilmen contended that painting the columns would be superficial and unnecessary, doing nothing more than adding time and cost to the project.
“Why can’t we leave the beams like they are?” Pigott asked.
The council members told Overholt that with renovations to the station almost complete, he and his work crew should focus on getting the project finished.
“I’m looking at getting it done so taxpayers don’t have to keep spending money,” Carawan said.
He suggested that Overholt use bed mold instead of primer on the columns. At this suggestion, Councilman Nelson Guy said he thought Overholt was given the authority to make such decisions without the council stepping in.
“I agree with Steve and Mac,” Mayor Adam O’Neal interjected. “What is the cheapest, quickest way to get out?”
O’Neal asked Jimmy Davis, acting fire chief, for his take on the column dilemma.
“You don’t know how difficult managing a fire department is with everybody going 10 different ways,” Davis said, adding that he too wants the work done in a quick and efficient manner.
O’Neal suggested the someone on the council make a motion to use bed molding instead of primer on the columns. Carawan made the motion, which was approved by a 4-1 margin. Guy made lone dissenting vote.
Overholt said renovations to the station should be complete by the Fourth of July holiday.
In other business, the council changed the curfew on the Belhaven Civic Center from 1:30 a.m. to midnight. Parties at the Civic Center must end by 11 p.m., as to give those who rent the facility enough time to clean it by the midnight curfew, according to the wording of the motion approved by the council.
O’Neal said he wants Belhaven police officers to enforce the curfew by checking on all parties at the Civic Center at 11 p.m.
In January 2009, the council banned alcoholic beverages at the Civic Center. That move was in response to increasing alcohol-related problems, including fights and disorderly conduct.
At Monday’s meeting, Town Clerk Marie Adams said people continue to sneak alcohol into the Civic Center. Police were called to a fight outside the building around 12:30 a.m. Sunday, O’Neal said.
“People are having wild parties,” he said, adding that the Civic Center should be used for wedding receptions and more formal occasions.
“I don’t see it as a party joint,” he said.
The council approved the town’s participation in Beaufort County Emergency Management’s countywide notification system.
The system would give the county the ability to send early warning messages in regard to hurricane activity, with suggested preparations and protective actions, through a reverse 911 system.
The annual cost to the town would be $500, according to Town Manager Guinn Leverett.
The town currently has a telephone-alert system, but the system is voluntary and only about one-third of the town’s residents have signed up for it. Leverett said the county’s system would include about 90 percent to 95 percent of all county residents.
“The county, I would like to say, followed us in pursuing a quick-call system of their own,” O’Neal said, adding that the town’s system would be dropped if and when the county system is enacted.
The council set a budget workshop and public hearing on the town’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2010-2011 for June 14 at 5:30 p.m. at the Civic Center. The workshop will precede the council’s regular meeting set for 7 p.m.