The Smithfield Town Council had a busy October meeting, swearing in its new police chief and awarding contracts for new finance software, ditch improvements, greenway repairs and more.
The council began by administering the oath of office to new police chief Robert Keith Powell, who had been interim chief since Mike Scott became town manager.
After welcoming Powell to his new role, the council moved on to awarding contracts for several projects.
The first was for updated financial software that finance director Greg Siler said was sorely needed, calling the current system “antiquated at best.”
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The town will pay $198,141 to purchase the software and then $34,638 a year to maintain it.
The second contract was for drainage ditch improvements on Outlet Center Drive. The ditch will go from grass to concrete at a cost $29,940. Staff said commercial construction along South Equity Drive had created drainage problems. The work might require a temporary road closure.
The council awarded a $50,000 contract for greenway repairs. The banks of the Neuse River Bank have eroded, and that erosion has crept up to the greenway, forcing the town to reinforce and back-fill the river bank.
Councilman Emery Ashley said the greenway repairs were “long overdue” and wanted to know if other parts of the greenway needed work. Staff said the greenway is always subject to failure because of its proximity to the river, adding that additional rain from Hurricane Matthew and other storms could create future repair needs.
Councilman Perry Harris credited the damage to “Mother Nature,” and the council agreed that future damage is inevitable.
The council accepted two $150,000 grants from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. The money will go toward digitally mapping the town’s water and sewer infrastructure, purchasing equipment such as sewer flow meters and evaluating the condition of the town’s infrastructure.
Also on Oct. 4, the council OK’d:
▪ A storage-building sales lot on the south side of N.C. 210.
▪ A commercial dog kennel for Labrador breeding on Little Creek Road near Rock Pillar Road.
The council also got the following updates at the meeting:
▪ Boring is finished and lights for some trees on Market Street have been installed.
▪ An engineer has completed a pavement-condition survey to determine the town’s street-replacement schedule. The council will get that report in November.
▪ Bollards and a “No U-Turn” sign have been installed at Outlet Center Drive at Smithfield Crossings, and no traffic accidents have occurred since.
▪ Rains have pushed back the rebuilding of Venture Drive, but the town hopes to have the work done before the holiday shopping season.
▪ The town has scheduled community meetings by council district. The West Smithfield meeting is 7 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Smithfield Recreation and Aquatics Center. The South Smithfield meeting is 6:30 p.m. Oct. 20 at First Baptist Church. The North Smithfield meeting is 6:30 p.m. Nov. 17 at the SRAC. The East Smithfield meeting was held this summer.
▪ Trick-or-treating in Smithfield will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31.
Abbie Bennett: 910-849-2827; @AbbieRBennett