Grants sought to help upgrade equipment

Published 1:03 pm Monday, January 18, 2016

With the City Council’s approval, two of Washington’s public-safety organizations are applying for grants to help them purchase communication-related equipment.

That approval, by a unanimous vote, came during the council’s meeting Monday. The Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS Department is seeking a $52,381 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. If awarded that amount, the city is obligated to provide $2,619 toward the purchase of 22 hand-held radios (at a project cost of $2,500 each), according to a memorandum from Robbie Rose, fire chief, to the mayor and council members. As for the Washington Police Department, it’s seeking a grant up to $25,000 to help upgrade its internal communication system, with its repeater system at 12 years old, according to a memorandum from Stacy Drakeford, the city’s director of police and fire services, to the mayor and council members.

“The city communication system will be transferring from an analog system to a digital system. Last budget year, the council provided for the purchase of new digital mobile and portable VHF radios. There is no local match,” reads the memorandum.

The grant, if awarded, would come from the North Carolina Crime Commission.

In other business, the council awarded Jerry Seighman, a retired patrol officer, his police shield an service weapon. Seighman, who joined the police force May 31, 1987, retired Dec. 15, 2015.

North Carolina law allows such action, which is in past traditions of the Washington Police Department.

Also, the council approved hiring Hood Richardson PA to provide engineering services related to water and sewer service at the new hotel being built next to fire station No. 2. Details of Richardson’s compensation will be spelled out in the contract between his company and the city.

In August 2015, the city was notified it had been awarded a $100,000 grant to provide the publicly owned utilities to the 87-room hotel. The project developer, New Age Properties, is required by the grant conditions to contribute $101,400 toward the project, with the city providing $5,000, which the developer agrees to reimburse the city. The project’s budget is estimated at $206,400, according to a city document.

A grant project ordinance approved by the City Council shows $149,800 allocated for construction, $24,500 appropriated for engineering design, $9,500 allocated for construction administration/observation, $7,600 earmarked for legal fees and $15,000 allocated for contingency.

The N.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority approved that grant in August. The hotel will house 87 rooms, according to the N.C. Department of Commerce. The hotel will be the anchor tenant on a 15-parcel commercial and light industrial property, according to the department.

New Age Properties plans to invest about $6.8 million to build the hotel and create about 20 jobs, according to the department. The estimated cost for sewer lines and street infrastructure that would serve the hotel comes to $424,000, with $100,000 of that cost being paid for by the grant, according to a memorandum from Matt Rauschenbach, the city’s administrative services director and chief financial officer.






About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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