Belhaven council OKs plan

Published 4:33 am Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Staff Writer

BELHAVEN — The Belhaven Town Council’s meeting was more about progression Monday night as Mayor Adam W. O’Neal and fellow town councilmen approved a language access plan they said was in the best interest of the town.
The Wooten Co. notified the council that a language access plan would need to be adopted by the town in order to be eligible to receive funds through the Community Development Block Grant program, CDBG-R and the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
According to representatives of The Wooten Co., the plan is good for two years, at which time it will be reassessed. The plan is necessary to avoid discrimination on the grounds of national origin, it was reported at the meeting.
“This is a requirement of the grants that we have received,” O’Neal said. “Particularly the funds we have received through CDBG, CDBG-R and NSP. It just states a requirement that the federal government asked the town to accept its assistance.”
Commissioner McKee “Mac” Pigott, Jr., said he was not happy with the decision at all.
“It’s a federal mandate and the federal government is taking our tax dollars and dictating to us how we can and how we cannot get those dollars,” Pigott said.
The repercussions if the town voted to not agree with the decision would be that the town would not be able to get the grant.
According to the LAP policy, the purpose of the plan is to ensure compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and other applicable federal and state laws and their implementing regulations with respect to people with limited English proficiency.
However, in order to avoid discrimination on the grounds of national origin, all programs or activities administered by Belhaven must take adequate steps to ensure that their policies and procedures do not deny or have the effect of denying those with limited English proficiency with equal access to benefits and services for which such people qualify.
The policy went into effect on Sept. 30, 2010.
“I’m just going to say this, but if I picked my family up and moved to Mexico City, I’m sure that these same things would be allowed for my family in Mexico City,” Pigott said. “I think this is ridiculous. It’s a federal mandate that I’m not real happy with. And in order to make the town more progressive … we have no choice, right?”
According to LAP, the agency will take appropriate steps to inform all applicants, recipients, community organizations and other interested people, including those whose primary language is something other than English.
Pigott made a motion to accept the LAP. Councilman Howard D. Moore seconded the motion and the motion was carried.
Other actions carried and approved were the closing of Main Street for a portion of the afternoon for the Belhaven Christmas parade on Dec. 11, as festivities begin at 2 p.m.
Shelley Carawan, who is on the Board of Directors for the Belhaven Community Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber is in the process of planning the fifth-annual Belhaven Christmas Parade of Lights.
“We are kicking off the afternoon with family fun at the chamber,” she said. “We will be having Santa, crafts, music, outdoor activities and food.”
Carawan added that the activities and parade are tentatively planned for Saturday, Dec. 11 with festivities beginning at 2 p.m. and the parade beginning at 4 p.m.
Carawan requested permission from the council to host the annual parade. However, in order to meet the goals of the parade, they would need a portion of Main Street closed off to traffic.
“We are planning to have the parade line up on Railroad Street,” she said. “The parade will turn left onto Main Street and continue and end at Tooley Street.”
Carawan also requested use of town property near the caboose located on the chamber grounds, as well as requesting increased police presence for the safety of patrons attending the event.
“We are hoping for this day to be a safe and successful event, bringing together residents of Belhaven and other surrounding areas,” she said. “We appreciate all that the town does to support the chamber and assisting in our success.”
“If I picked my family up and moved to Mexico City, I’m sure that these same things would be allowed for my family in Mexico City.” McKee “Mac” Pigott, Jr., Belhaven councilman