The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

Community

January 9, 2014

Princeville fire hydrant repair to begin soon

PRINCEVILLE — PRINCEVILLE — The covers on the faulty hydrants in Princeville could start to come off very soon.

Mike Mathews, Edgecombe County director of water and sewer, said the Local Government Commission (LGC) has contacted the lowest bidder for the job. Mathews said he did not have an exact timeline when the replacement will began or how long the project will last. He said the contractor could replace one to two hydrants a day "depending on the amount of damage of the hydrants."

"This is the best news that I can hope for, for the town and its citizens, said Princeville Mayor Pro-Tem Ann Howell. "I'm in a state of rejoicing."

Twenty five of the town's 80 hydrants have been in dire need of repairs for several years. However, after a fire to a historic landmark in the city in July, citizens raised grave concerns about the faulty hydrants. Some of the hydrants are near some of the town's most important structures — St. Luke Church of Christ Disciples of Christ, Princeville Museum and Princeville Elementary School.

The LGC, who took over the town's fiances in July 2012, ordered Edgecombe County to repair the hydrant near the school while it seeks funds to repair the others. At the request of LGC, Edgecombe took over the maintenance of the town's water and sewer system in 2012. In addition to repairing the school hydrant, the county also bills and collects for the town's water and sewer and maintains its water and sewer lines.

"It saddened my heart to know that the hydrant at the school was not working," Howell said. "I was most satisfied when Edgecombe stepped up and replaced the hydrant by the school."

Howell has been at the forefront of the issue. She has been one of the most vocal commissioners about the hydrants. Edgecombe County Emergency Manager Butch Beach has said the hydrants are reasons to speculate on the possibility of property loss due to fire.  One of the reasons is a mutual aid agreement between all of Edgecombe County's volunteer fire departments. When a structure fire is reported, at least three departments respond. Beach said that should be enough to battle a structure blaze. However, he didn't downplay the importance of repairing the town's faulty fire hydrants.

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