BY JOHN H. WALKER
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
For the first time since 1995, someone other than Donald Morris is mayor of the Town of Tarboro.
Former Ward 3 council member and town utilities director Rick Page, who was the first to announce his intentions to run for the office when Morris announced he would not seek reelection earlier in the year, was sworn in by Clerk of Court Carol Allen White before a packed council chambers Monday night.
Also sworn in were new council members Othar Woodard (Ward 1), Steve Burnette (Ward 3) and John Jenkins (Ward 5), along with returning member Taro Knight (Ward 7).
Later, by a 5-3 vote, Knight was elected mayor pro tem, the position he previously held on the council.
Outgoing council members Gerrelene Walker (Ward 1) and Candis Owens (Ward 5), who were defeated in their respective bids for reelection, were recognized for this service to the community. Page was also recognized for his council service and then surprised Morris by reading an official resolution of recognition of his service.
Despite the half-hour of festivities at the start of the meeting, the council sliced through a relatively lengthy agenda with the precision of a surgeon, dispensing of three public hearings and 10 action items in less than 90 minutes.
• Held a public hearing and approved a zoning map amendment requested by Billy Trevathan to rezone 2.5 acres of land along U.S. 64 from AR-20 (General Residential District) to B-3 (General Commercial District).
• Held a public hearing and approved a UDO Text Amendment to change the length allowed between billboards from 1,000 feet to 500 feet. Also requested by Trevathan, any new billboards on Trevathan’s property would have to first be approved by NCDOT.
• Held a public hearing and approved an application for a certificate of convenience and necessity for Checker Cab Co. for 2014, which includes an addition al cab – from four to five. Police Chief Damon Williams reported that three of the five vehicles have passed inspection and the other two are being worked on to allow them to pass,
The daughter of owner Blanche Lee Jenkins told council the company would lose money if it were required to remain open 24/7, but that she and her mother would look at ways to offer additional services, including the possibility of scheduling early morning or evening or night pick-ups ahead of time.
• Gave unanimous consent to the Tarboro Association of Saltwater Sportsmen (TASS) to install steps along the steep, western slope of the boat ramp at Riverfront Park. The steps will meet all town, state and federal codes, be completely paid for by TASS and would be given to the town once work is complete and the finished product approved.
The steps will be located on the bare hillside, opposite the steps and ramp currently in-place.
• Approved budget amendments for three items, including $10,000 to accommodate a grant from Electricities to allow for the certification of the 100-acre Tarboro Commerce Center; $36,229to pay 50 percent of the tax increase incurred by Superior Essex following investments and improvements made at the Anaconda Road facility. This annual payment, which will occur over a 10-year period, is part of the incentive package over Superior Essex.
• Adopted a resolution directing the town attorney to petition Superior Court for an order directing Phillip Clement, owner of condemned property at 508 Albemarle, to comply with an order to start demolition of the process or have the town do it and attach charges for the work.
At the November meeting, Clement appeared before council and assured members that demolition was ready to start and that it would soon get under way, which it has not.
• Reappointed May Ann Shindle to a six-year term on the Edgecombe County Memorial Library Board/
• Reappointed Fire Chief Frankie Winslow to a two-year term on the Fireman’s Relief Fund Board.
• Delayed action on appointments to the Historic District Commission (two vacancies) and the Citizens Advisory Recreation Committee (two vacancies) until the Jan. 13 meeting.