Ramseur Wasn’t Built In A Day
Hello. It’s been a minute since I had anything to report. We had an election and pretty much elected a new government for ourselves. We also hired a new town clerk, Gwen French. I hope by now that everyone in town has made her feel welcome. Her skills have been sorely needed and her efforts are indeed much appreciated.
You might have noticed that I’ve only been posting the videos of the monthly Board of Commissioners meetings since the election. Some have suggested that I’m giving the new mayor and commissioners less scrutiny or going easier on them than I did the last administration.
Rest assured that any act of deception or corruption by anyone in our local government will never go unmentioned in this space. The new board has publicly committed to working together, as transparently as possible, with as much citizen involvement as we’ll give them. All have continued to voluntarily send me copies of their email communications since being sworn in last December.
That’s not to say there hasn’t been anything to report. There’s been no shortage of controversy or citizen concerns during the recent transition in our governing body. I could have written about how the former mayor reset the mayor’s cellphone and computer on his way out the door, wiping out years of contacts and correspondence that the mayor, no matter who occupies that chair, needs in order to best represent our town.
I could have demanded to know why the former mayor was seen removing files from his office the day after the election. I could have demanded to know about documents that several citizens reported seeing now former Commissioner Cheek shredding in the days following the election, but that would be hearsay, because I didn’t personally see nor did I have the time or energy to pursue either story.
I could have written about how the fire truck the previous board voted to purchase, with at least $16,000 to be financed, was instead paid for in full out of funds “on hand”, creating a potential budget shortfall, and adding to the general chaos that appears to have been the last four months of the previous administration. Commissioner Parrish is now working to obtain the loan needed to prevent that shortfall.
I could tell you bits and pieces of lots of things I’ve seen, heard, read, or been told over the past few months, but of all these things I only know part of the story, and anything more I could say would be speculation, and that’s not what this work is about.
I can tell you that Commissioner McIntosh has hired a company to bring in a bucket truck next week to take down the Christmas decorations downtown that Suez should have removed, one way or another, weeks ago. I’ve seen the emails about that. As far as I know all the board members and the mayor are copying me on all their non-confidential emails.
At the pre-agenda meeting the board held last Monday, January 20, it was suggested and several commissioners stated that they had already been considering adding several new citizen advisory boards to support each department. Since I’ve spent most of my adult life in utilities and infrastructure, specifically underground utility damage prevention and mapping, public works or water/sewer is my ballpark, and I plan to volunteer to serve on that advisory committee.
Getting back to the “mess” the new administration has inherited, the email re-printed below offers one very specific example of why the change most of us voted for last November was so badly needed.
From: Jim McIntosh <email@example.com>
Sent: Friday, January 24, 2020 1:12 PM
To: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com;
firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: 811 regs
My name is Jim McIntosh, I was the Public Works Director for the Town of
Ramseur for 25 years retiring in early 2015 , could you please send us
what we need to do to meet the new 811 regulations so we as a Town can
better understand. Thanks Town of Ramseur PO Box 545 Ramseur NC 27316 Sent
from my iPhone
to: Jim McIntosh <email@example.com>,
cc: Lesley Brouillard <firstname.lastname@example.org>
date: Jan 24, 2020, 2:30 PM
I emailed Morganne Kirkman the initial new member package December 3,
2015; whom I believe is no longer there.
I resent the new member package, after not receiving a response July 6,
I was set to train a [person called] Frosty in September 2016 on our polygon program so he
could draw in the underground lines manually.
I trained a Mark Grose on our member polygon program March 27, 2017, after
a Bobbie Hatley referred me to him since there was no shapefile of the
I received written confirmation from Grant Cheek that Mark Grose would be
the primary database contact April 6. 2017 and emailed Mark his log in
credentials for the database.
I sent a follow up email to Mark Grose April 17, 2017 to see if he needed
assistance drawing the underground lines into the database. And again
4-25-2017, 5-31-2017, 8/14/2017, and on 9-11-2017 which he then responded
the underground lines would be drawn in that week.
I followed up with Mark Grose, by email, January 9, 2018 to see if
further assistance or supplemental training was needed to draw the
underground lines in. And again 4-9-2018, 6-18-2018, 5-16-2019.
On June 11, 2019, I emailed Grant Cheek to see if he would like to go
through the training for member polygons so he could, then, draw in the
underground lines. And again 8-9-2019.
I need to know who the database contact is as that will be my primary
contact person for anything having to do with NC811.
I currently have a Bobbie Hatley as the main and secondary database
contacts. I have a Grant Cheek as the primary database contact.
At this time, I need to make any corrections to the contacts in the
database and, if there have been changes, train the database contact on
the member polygons program so the underground database can be completed.
Dana Stamey – NC811
336-854-8597 option 8
Why is this important? Bear with me as we wade into the weeds on a subject I actually know a lot about.
The maps discussed above are how NC811 knows to notify the Town of Ramseur when anyone intends to dig a hole or a trench near one of our water or sewer pipes. The Town of Ramseur then sends out an employee to mark the location of those utilities in an effort to prevent unnecessary breakages. If the maps aren’t kept up to date, pipes are not marked. If the pipes are not marked taxpayers foot the bill for damage to unmarked utilities.
I have worked in the industry that provides utility operators with line marking services for most of the past thirty years. In that time there have been vast improvements in the accuracy of the maps to determine which utility operators need to be notified when an excavator calls in a request for marks. Thirty years ago the maps were broken down into U.S.G.S. map grids and/or townships.
Over the years the grid system was refined into smaller “gridlets” before evolving into the system of polygons used today to define map areas. More accurate maps mean fewer unnecessary notifications and less wasted time, resources, and, in this case, taxpayer dollars. The pennies add up fast.
In 2015, when NC811 first contacted the Town of Ramseur about the state mandate to join the one-call notification system, I happened to be running for office against our now former, long-serving mayor. When the subject came up in a Board of Commissioners meeting I was asked to help explain the changes in the law and what they would mean for the Town of Ramseur, I don’t think more than one person on the board had a clue what I was talking about. Maybe I don’t explain it well.
See ya at the next meeting on February 3.