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Congressman Greg Murphy visited Columbia Nov. 5

Political “divisiveness is sucking all the energy out of Washington, D.C.” Congressman Greg Murphy (R-NC3) told a Columbia audience on Nov. 5.

Dr. Murphy, who gave the assessment less than two months after arriving in the nation’s capital, spoke to a group of local officials and residents in the Columbia Theater as part of a week-long swing through the 17-county Third Congressional District.

The Greenville surgeon spent four years in the state legislature before winning the seat left vacant by the death of Walter Jones last February.

The Congressman announced that he will have three offices in the district open five days a week: Greenville, Jacksonville, and Edenton.

Dr. Murphy said he sees himself and his staff as liaison between the people in the district and the federal government, adding that his early visit here is to enable him to “put a face with a name” when communicating with local residents.

Tyrrell County manager David Clegg explained how the proposed closure of Tyrrell Prison Work Farm here will negatively affect the county’s economy. He said over half Tyrrell’s land is owned by federal and state government, which do not pay property taxes.

Tommy Everett, chairman of the county board of commissioners, explained that frequent flooding and poorly functioning septic tanks are threats to the health of many residents. He voiced the need for  countywide water and sewer systems.

[Utilities such as water and sewer services, known as public enterprises, are required by state law to support themselves by user fees and charges for services. Property taxes cannot be used to augment their budgets. In low-wealth counties, therefore, huge sums in federal and state grants are necessary to construct such systems and thus lower the endebtedness to a level the system users can afford to pay.]

Columbia town manager Rhett White expressed gratitude for a recent $750,000 neighborhood revitalization federal grant, and he added inadequate surface water drainage to the list of local woes.

Dr. Murphy reminded that the people of Holland have functioned below sea level for centuries. “We need to be proactive and not bury our heads in the sand” when it comes to solving problems facing the community, he said.

Everett added that replacement of the Alligator River bridge on U.S. 64 is a priority need, reminding the Congressman that the bridge is an integral part of the federally maintained Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

The meeting lasted just over a half hour and about 30 people attended, including all the county commissioners, Mayor James Cahoon and two aldermen, and school superintendent Oliver Holley.