WTP inspection report

Here’s the water treatment plant inspection report referenced in remarks Commissioner Brower made last Tuesday night. The report includes a full explanation of what caused our water to turn brown a few months ago, so it’s worth reading for that reason alone. I have removed several web links that were embedded in the text and cleaned up a little grammar to make it easier to read. Bolding is mine.


On Sep 18, 2023, at 10:28 AM, Appelboom, Tim W <tim.appelboomATdeq.nc.gov> wrote:

Mayor Caudle,

Good morning. I met with Jason Helton on September 7, 2023, to inspect the Town of Ramseur’s water treatment plant, raw water intakes, booster stations, storage tanks, interconnects, and associated distribution system. We appreciate Mr. Helton’s time and cooperation with the inspection. I have copied him on this email.

Compliance sampling is currently up to date with all required samples having been taken. The number of operator site visits is consistent with that required. The treatment plant appeared to be operating as expected.

Items needing attention are as follows:

The Stout Street tank will be put back into service soon so that maintenance can be conducted on the Weatherly Tank. Please ensure that an engineer’s certification and a total coliform / E. Coli (TC- / EC-) negative water sample is collected and submitted to the state prior to the Stout tank going back into service.
The lab’s STABLCAL and pH standards were past their expiration dates at the time of the inspection. Mr. Helton said he will order new standards.
One of the valves in the chlorine feed room was dripping at the time of the inspection. Mr. Helton said this will be fixed.

The permanganate tank at the old treatment plant needs to be in an enclosed structure to protect the tank, pumps, and chemicals from the elements.

The track Vac system is currently not working. Mr. Helton has been looking for parts to make repairs. Currently, the water plant is manually cleaning the sedimentation basins quarterly.

Currently, the filters are being run at an average rate of 3.69 gallons per minute per square foot of filter surface area. The maximum filter volume rate allowed for mixed media filters is 4.0 gallons per minute. The maximum rate achieved for the month of July was 5.48 gallons per minute.

During the preparation for this inspection, it was determined that there was one set of plans and specifications (SN: 17-00268) that needed one of the following: an Applicant and/or Engineer’s Certification for final approval, an Authorization to Construct extension, or a project termination (I have attached a copy of your current plans and specifications for your convenience).

The system had a complaint about dark water in the second half of July. This was a combination of high manganese in the raw water coming into the water plant and a faulty valve on the filter to waste line. The leaking valve allowed non-chlorine treated water to enter the filters from the sedimentation basins overnight when the plant was not running (the chlorine is fed on top of the filters when the plant is running to precipitate the manganese so the filters can remove it before being pumped to the Clearwell). This water would then be filtered and pumped into the Clearwell. Once into the Clearwell, the manganese interacted with the chlorine already in the Clearwell to cause dark water. Mr. Helton said that the plant now runs filter to waste at startup each day prior to the plant sending water to the Clearwell to ensure all untreated water is removed from the filters. Currently, the plan is to have the filter media and the filter valves replaced with a completion date of December 2024. This should be a priority for the Town and the water plant as it restricts the production of the water plant and allows a possibility of lower quality water entering the distribution system. Finding the leaking valve and creating a workaround until it can be fixed demonstrates Mr. Helton’s experience and knowledge of the Ramseur water plant.

We discussed the plans for an interconnect with the City of Asheboro. Please remember that the bidding on this project cannot commence without plans and specifications being submitted to the North Carolina Public Water Supply Section Plan Review and final plan approval given.

We also discussed the plan for the Ramseur Water plant to switch from chlorine gas to bleach, and eventually add ammonia to run on chloramines to match the other water plants that will supply water to the mega site. This will also require plans and specifications to be submitted to the North Carolina Public Water Supply Section Plan Review and final plan approval given.

Any testable backflow prevention assemblies owned by the town, both in the water treatment plant (including those on chemical feed pumps) and throughout the distribution system should be tested and maintained according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Also, continue to update and maintain a list of private backflow prevention devices throughout the distribution system.

We thank Mr. Helton for his cooperation during the inspection and for his and his staff’s work in providing quality water to your customers. If you have any questions about the inspection or related issues, please feel free to contact me.


Commissioner Brower amended the meeting agenda Tuesday night so she could sing praises to Mr. Helton for an outstanding inspection. I’ll agree that he’s a competent and creative water treatment plant operator, and like all workers who make an earnest effort on the job, he deserves praise when he gets caught doing the right thing. It’s his job to be accommodating to inspectors when they come calling, but I wouldn’t go around bragging about that report. It certainly didn’t qualify as much more than acceptable, given that we all know how badly the plant was maintained during the time Suez operated it.

The commissioners made an expensive mistake when they budgeted almost $100,000.00 for Mr. Helton’s wages this fiscal year, and we’re all going to pay that bill. It’s too much money for any department head in a place this small, especially when we’re being told we can’t afford a proper town manager and we still aren’t up to date on past-due budget audits. I emailed Ms. Akers about a week ago with a question about how that deficiency affects the town’s ability to win grants from our state or federal governments, but I have not received a response to that query as of this writing.

Salaried department heads in most places get comp time (extra time off), not overtime pay. I see no provision for overtime pay afforded to Chief Presley. Are some department heads treated differently from others? It certainly looks that way from here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not faulting Mr. Helton, nor am I attempting to create any animosity between department heads. I’m just pointing out the facts.

We have one department head with roughly thirty years of experience in his field, law enforcement, being paid a fair salary plus comp time, and another with less experience in his industry, and even less management experience, essentially written a blank check for overtime pay and shown how much is in the bank so he doesn’t overdraw the account.

That’s bad management on the part of the commissioners, and another example of why Ramseur cannot afford to go another year without hiring a properly trained town manager and giving that person the full authority they’ll need to do the job. If that means taking power away from the five elected commissioners, so be it. Every board I’ve seen since I arrived almost ten years ago has misused or abused its authority, playing petty middle-school politics against one another. This board may be the worst of the crop in that sense, and you and I get stuck paying for their poor decisions for years, sometimes decades after they leave office.

The commissioners accuse me of being “divisive and disruptive” for the sake of anarchy or sport or some other equally ridiculous reason, but if they were doing their jobs in a more transparent, equitable, and honest fashion, perhaps no one would feel the need to disrupt them. As for being divisive, if that’s my goal I seem to be failing because I’ve not seen one vote taken since Commissioner Hatchett joined the board that didn’t pass unanimously. They certainly seem to be united in their dislike of me, and that’s perhaps the most disappointing part of all.

With the exception of Commissioner Kearns, I helped every other member of this board to get elected or appointed, and I voted and campaigned for them in two different election cycles. Three of them have never even had a conversation with me longer than thirty seconds, despite my offers to do just that. They don’t know me and they refuse to even try.

They have all passed judgment against me based on hearsay, lies, and rumors spread by people who sometimes aren’t even mature enough to put their real names on their remarks. It’s childish, and I refuse to play their games. All offers to have an adult conversation are now rescinded. I made the effort, and I got my answer, in the form of even more lies, and I can and will prove that when appropriate.

Board Meeting: 19 Sept. 2023

When I started writing this it was ten o’clock on Wednesday morning, September 20th. Last night the Ramseur commissioners held their regular monthly meeting after a short public hearing for a rezoning request. On most days like this, the video of last night’s meeting would already be available on the town’s YouTube account, but today that’s not the case, for reasons I have no way to know.

Instead of being able to watch the video and clarify a few bits I couldn’t hear well or otherwise missed, today I’m going to have to rely on hand-scribbled notes and my memory.

The public hearing had to do with a request to combine two parcels and adjust any zoning differences between them so that the owners, Haney’s Holding Co. LLC, could move forward with what they described during the hearing as a self-storage enterprise.

I’ve included a map showing the parcels in question from the county GIS website. The red line indicates the property they requested be combined with the adjacent property behind it, which fronts US 64. I don’t believe the corner property, at Greenhill Road and US 64, is part of the project. Please accept my apologies if my graphics skills are confusing to anyone.

The rezoning request was later approved during the business meeting.

After the public hearing, the meeting got underway with an invocation and pledge of allegiance, followed by the adoption of the consent agenda. For those unfamiliar, a consent agenda is a collection of reports, invoices, or other items that recur every month or so and most often pass without much discussion. When I received the email containing this month’s meeting agenda and support documents, one item on the consent agenda jumped out at me: a $ 2,000 payment to the Ramseur/Eastern Randolph Chamber of Commerce. The clerk’s notes indicated that the item had been approved by the board at the August 15th meeting, but I didn’t recall any such a decision.

Commissioner Parrish must have anticipated that question because when he amended the agenda to add several last-minute items he explained what this payment was. Last month the board agreed to purchase some holiday lights through a GvoDeals auction, however, by the time bidding was complete the final cost went “well above” the approved budget of $2,000, and because GovDeals will only accept wire transfers from one entity for a purchase, the R/ER Chamber of Commerce paid the full bill; the $2000 was a reimbursement from the town for the amount the board had agreed to spend.

I thank the commissioner for explaining that odd transaction, but a few questions do remain: what was the total cost, and will the Chamber be making an “in-kind” donation to the town for the balance so that all? Until that happens the new Christmas lights exist in a sort of legal no man’s land because two entities (town and chamber) cannot both own them. My wife leads a local non-profit here in the county and works closely with their treasurer to make sure things like that don’t fall through the cracks and cause bigger problems down the road. I’m sure the commissioner intends to see that this is resolved properly in the near future.

Speaking of amendments to the agenda, there were quite a few late additions last night, from several commissioners. Commissioner Parrish added four: the fire department equipment purchase, the holiday lights payment above, the reappointment of an ABC Board member, and an update on preparations for our annual ‘A Day On Main Street’ festival. Commissioner Hatchett added an update on the Ramseur Athletic Association’s efforts to get restarted, and Commissioner Brower added four items as well: a question about zoning issues regarding a fence, an issue regarding violation of the special zoning district known as the “downtown overlay”, remarks praising Public Utilities Director, Jason Helton, and a statement about Commissioner Cranford.

By my count, that’s nine amendments to an agenda that was completed and emailed to board members and other interested parties last Friday afternoon, four full days before the meeting. The addition of the fire department issue was at least announced, via email, the day before the meeting, and the consent agenda item was really part of a discussion regarding the disposal of the decorations that the new lights will replace, so it didn’t actually take up any additional time.

Commissioner Parrish does have a great deal on his plate, so I think we can afford him a little grace for overlooking one or two items from time to time. Commissioner Hatchett has been a board member for four months now, so we’ll attribute her forgetting to add her topic to the agenda to that steep learning curve we’ve been warned about, but Commissioner Brower gets no pass. She spends a significant amount of time in the administrative office every week; almost every day from what I’m told, and she has been a commissioner for almost two years now.

Two of Commissioner Brower’s items were zoning/code enforcement issues. I’m not familiar with the garage alleged to be operating illegally within the downtown overlay, but the fence in question has been up long enough to have green mildew (it’s actually algae) growing on it. Those should have been added to the agenda well before meeting night. As for her praise for Mr. Helton’s work, she could have slipped that comment into the discussion of water and sewer issues already on the agenda, and the inspection she referenced was not what I’d call stellar, but it wasn’t horrible either. Mr. Helton is a very competent and creative water plant operator, but there’s always room for improvement as the inspection report lays out.

As for Commissioner Brower’s comments about Mr. Cranford… that issue was settled last month and I moved on. What was the point of bringing it back up?

Moving on to the public comments section of the meeting, only one citizen had signed up early enough to be listed on the agenda. Mr. Sonnenfeld, who lives over on Elam Avenue somewhere, asked the board to cut him a discount on his sewer bill because he spent the hottest months of the summer watering his new Bermuda grass lawn. You know, since the water goes on the ground it doesn’t return to the sewer plant to be treated. I understood his reasoning but, as several commissioners correctly pointed out, that’s a slippery slope and if we do that favor for one person without anything legal to base it on, before long we’ll be letting everyone slide on water bills, fees, or code violations.

The other public comment was a last-minute sign-up from a lady representing the food pantry. I’m sorry, but I missed her name, and since I can’t review the video yet to listen to her remarks again I’m not even clear on what she said to the board. I missed most of her remarks because I was confused by the back-and-forth between the commissioners and the speaker during the first comment. Public comment rules in every meeting I’ve ever attended limit speakers to three minutes and board members are not supposed to respond to speakers during the comment period. Neither rule was observed last night, for either speaker. In the future, I hope citizens and other parties wishing to have a discussion with the board will be encouraged to ask to be added to the new business portion of the meeting, rather than the limited public comment period to ensure that all citizens are treated and equally.

Since I can’t review the video yet and avoid memory errors I’m sure to make, I think I’ll end this post here, but I would like to point out that I agreed with 90% or more of the decisions voted on last night.

Y’all have a good day.

Addendum: Just before 2:30 this afternoon, after several emails between myself and Ms. Akers, the video miraculously began working. As you can see, there are two copies visible on the screen as of this writing. I sent a tech support ticket to YouTube earlier today, so I don’t know whether they fixed an issue (unlikely, given two copies) or what, but I’m glad it’s working now.

Agenda: 19 September 2023

I’m only aware of one planned amendment to the agenda as published: fire department equipment purchase.

If you cannot attend tonight’s meeting you should be able to watch it live or view the recording later. A link should appear on this YouTube page once the proceedings get underway around 6:30 p.m.

[EDIT] Here’s the link for the video of last night’s meeting. If it won’t play don’t worry, the problem isn’t on your end or mine. Someone needs to click something somewhere to make that public record available to you and me. Eventually, they’ll figure it out.

Should we spend $2M on water meters?

At their August meeting, our board of commissioners discussed a proposal to purchase and install 1,352 “smart” water meters and other hardware, such as radio transmitters, needed to make them function. The topic was listed on the meeting agenda as “AMI Metering”.

Prior to the regular third Tuesday meeting, a special meeting was called to present the subject to the board members. I was unable to attend that particular meeting, but the commissioner in charge of the camera didn’t feel that spending two million dollars of our money was important enough to you and me to bother streaming or recording that special meeting. That makes it harder for all of us to have any say in what gets discussed in those meetings.

A company called USG Water Solutions wants to sell us 1,352 “AMI” water meters. AMI stands for advanced metering infrastructure. You can read more about that technology by clicking here.

All of this cool new technology can be ours for the low, low price of 2.2 million dollars ($1,694,022.50 principle, borrowed at 4.952%, repaid over ten installments of $224,412. 28, equals $2,244,122.80). By now I’m sure the interest rate has probably changed, but you get the picture; $2.2 million dollars, all or nothing.

A representative from USG Water spoke to the commissioners on August 15th, and I hope you’ll watch that segment of the meeting by clicking this link. It’s a little hard to follow at times because every time any commissioner shuffles some papers, opens a water bottle, or unwraps a piece of candy the noise makes it very difficult to understand speakers.

Anyway, for a ten-year commitment to repay more than 2.2 million dollars, we’re going to be just rolling in money from the recaptured water revenue that USG assures us will follow. Here’s a link to the relevant documents, provided to the commissioners before the meeting.

The selling point according to statements made by Mr. Helton and/or Mr. Cauthern, the USG representative, is that roughly 33% of the treated water leaving our treatment plant disappears between there and the customer’s water meter. The town loses out on all that revenue, not to mention the wasted chemicals used to treat it, and I agree, that’s an unacceptable loss, but I’m not convinced it justifies replacing all 1,352 meters on our distribution system at once.

We’ve been dumping treated water from the end of the line down NC-22, south of Faith Christian School, for decades. This is done because there’s not enough usage on that end of the system to keep the water in the pipeline from going stale, a problem that should have been addressed years ago by building a return loop, but that’s an issue for another time. The fact remains: we’re wasting about one million gallons of treated water out of the end of that pipe each year. I wonder if anyone has ever placed a meter on the end of that pipeline and actually measured how much clean, treated water we’re losing down there every year?

At one point during the August 15th discussion, Mr. Helton stated that most of the lost revenue from unbillable “ghost leaks” (my term, not his) is associated with one-inch diameter commercial services. Those account for less than ten percent of the 1,352 meters on the system, approximately 120 according to Mr. Helton’s statement to the board.

Got that? They’re saying we should spend a couple of million dollars replacing everything all at once, to fix a problem that primarily affects less than ten percent of the system. Do I have that right? Watch the video.

After more than a decade of running my own business, I’ve learned to be a little bit skeptical of figures and claims made by sales representatives, and often those were expensive lessons I’d rather not repeat. Being on the hook for expensive equipment that doesn’t deliver is no fun, but if I make a bad decision for my business, only my family and I bear that cost. If this AMI system fails to live up to expectations or starts failing before the loan is paid off, you and I and every other water customer in Ramseur will all be paying for it long after those responsible have left office or moved away.

This is why I had hoped the commissioners would do the right thing and allow me to participate in these and other important decisions between now and December; decisions which may impact our ability to move forward on other critical issues.

Had I been allowed to participate in that discussion I would have asked the USG representative to work up an alternate proposal to replace only the one-inch meters, since according to Mr. Helton, they are the biggest part of the problem. Call it a pilot program if that helps.

If the technology proves to work as advertised and really does save us as much money as is promised, then we might consider buying more meters later. Given the numbers I heard in that meeting, it seems to me that the captured revenue from such a pilot program could easily be reinvested in replacing more meters in a few years. Right now, given the shape we’re in, I can’t see signing off on a ten-year, seven-figure debt without more concrete proof.

What really blew my mind during the meeting was the fact that no one had run this idea past the LGC (Local Government Commission). As I understand it, the LGC has to be consulted before this deal can be sealed because our town has been so far behind on mandatory budget audits. We have to get permission from the LGC to borrow this much money. No one in the office or on the board contacted the LGC before this was presented.

At least two commissioners apparently had every intention of holding a vote and closing the deal that night. That’s bad governance and makes us all look stupid. Watch the video. Commissioner Parrish was ready to spend two million dollars of your money on technology that may or may not live up to expectations. Pushing through big spending deals and making unnecessary changes to how our government works is not the way a town in the shape we’re in should operate.

Water treatment chemical prices continue to skyrocket. Remember that pipe I mentioned south of town? Hundreds of gallons of treated water flow out of that pipe, wasting water, chemicals, and money all day, every day. The AMI system may indeed be able to save us money over the long term but, replacing all of our meters at this time just seems like just more reckless spending to me.

Thankfully the AMI discussion was tabled last month, but if past experience is any indication it will be brought back up again at the September 19 meeting, where it will probably come to a vote, and this board rarely fails to pass anything that comes to a vote.

I’d like to see a few other options on the table before anyone commits us to spending money we might not even have. I’d like to see a few more of you, my neighbors, in that room on meeting nights. I’m guilty too. It’s no fun sitting in that room, biting your tongue, but it’s up to all of us to let those commissioners know that we are paying attention.

You can sign up to make a comment to the board on the night of the meeting. Please, show up and let them know what you think.

What is best for Ramseur?

I don’t know Tim Cranford very well, but we’ve had a few conversations over the years, so I think I have some sense of how he feels about his hometown and the job he wanted to do as a commissioner. He came to the house and spoke with us for a couple of hours back in 2019 when he was running for his seat on the board and the one thing I took from that discussion above all else was how much Tim loves Ramseur. All he wanted to do was whatever was best for Ramseur.

With that in mind, I began thinking about Tim’s empty seat. Our town’s corporate charter stipulates that our town is supposed to be governed by five elected, or appointed, commissioners. I don’t believe Tim Cranford ever expected to be away so long, but just a few weeks ago he was quoted telling a mutual friend he feared he wouldn’t be able to run for office again this year. 

Tim Cranford wants what is best for Ramseur, and I can’t help but believe he’d want to see that seat filled and a full board of five citizens making those important decisions. Since only three people signed up to fill three seats for this November’s election, and two of those three people are already seated – one by appointment – I thought that perhaps the other members of the board might agree that the best thing for Ramseur is to move forward with the full board our founders intended us to have by seating the third of this year’s crop of three candidates. 

At last Tuesday’s meeting, there were many issues on the agenda: a new rec ball league, new vehicles to purchase, changes to the planning board, and a proposal for 1352 new “smart” water meters, among others. I had thoughts on all those topics that might have been useful: ideas that I didn’t hear anyone else suggest and which might have led to different outcomes or moved some items closer to a final vote, but if the four current commissioners don’t want to listen I can’t make them.

I wish there was a possibility that any one of us might lose in a four or five-way election where we actually have to work to gain our seats or some chance to go back to ignoring the trainwreck that is our local government for another few years. I had hoped there would be at least five candidates for you to pick from on November 7th, but that won’t be the case, because only three people bothered to file to run for those three seats. That’s it, you’re stuck with us for the next four years. 

Two of those three people are already seated commissioners; one elected, one appointed. The experts at the UNC School of Government have written about vacancies on municipal boards several times, and some of that is what I handed out to the commissioners last Tuesday night. I realize now that I should have emailed those documents to the board members earlier in the day so they could have read them ahead of time. That was my mistake, and I apologize.

In January 2013, Frayda Bluestein wrote: “A city or county board member may obtain a leave of absence for protracted illness or “other reason satisfactory to the governing body” of the city or county under G.S. 128-40 (counties) or G.S. 128-41 (cities). This appears to be an option that is rarely exercised. It must be initiated by the board member seeking the leave of absence and is approved by the governing body. While on leave the board member does not receive a salary but retains any sick leave to which he or she is entitled. The leave does not extend the term of office. These statutes also authorize the governing board to appoint a temporary replacement who must be qualified to hold the office and who has all of the “authority, duties, perquisites, and emoluments” of the official who is temporarily replaced.”

The commissioners are within their rights, legally and morally, to fill every seat at that desk. I have many constructive ideas that I don’t hear being brought up and I have over three decades of infrastructure and business experience to offer. I’m ready and able to go to work the second three commissioners, or two commissioners and a mayor, are ready to ask.

Public comment to the Board of Commissioners, Tuesday, 15, August 2023.

Good evening, Mayor and Commissioners, it’s good to be with you tonight. 

Our board faces many important decisions in the coming months, but tonight you’re only operating at 80% efficiency; Commissioner Cranford’s seat remains vacant. 

Three people filed to run for the three open seats on the ballot this year, and we are all in this room tonight. The five of us will be Ramseur’s commissioners for at least the next two years.  

Some time ago, Commissioner Cranford submitted a request to be excused for an extended leave of absence having to do with his health. I hope tonight finds Tim in a comfortable place and in better health, and I think we all thank him for his service to the community. 

It is my understanding that the members of this board have been within their rights, at any time since accepting Commissioner Cranford’s request for leave, to appoint an interim commissioner to Mr. Cranford’s vacant seat. 

I stand ready to work. 

Thank you.

For those who don’t know me, my name is Jay Hubbard. 

I’ve spent the last thirty-odd years working around just about every type of construction/roadway/right-of-way construction or maintenance you can imagine: I locate underground utilities for a living. I spent almost twenty years working for the public “811” services and a couple of civil engineering firms. I’ve been self-employed as a private consultant for the last 13 years or so.

I’ve been a citizen of Ramseur for about nine years now, and I’m on the ballot this year to fill one of three open seats on our town’s Board of Commissioners.

To me the most important issue facing Ramseur is the same one I’ve been talking about for almost a decade:  Ramseur needs a town manager!

I’ve been told too many times that Ramseur cannot afford a town manager, but I don’t buy it. I say Ramseur can’t afford NOT to hire a manager

Four years after a hard reset in the town offices and turning over the entire elected board we are still at least a full year behind on mandatory state budget audits, and we have become more reliant on outside professionals, contractors, and consultants over the last four years, not less.

This is not the way.

Since I began watching our local government in 2015, we have seen no less than nineteen (19) people occupy the five seats on our board. Over the years I have watched everything from important long-term goals to minor civil ordinance changes get lost in the shuffle as board members came and went.

For example, an ordinance banning engine braking was adopted by the Board of Commissioners back in mid-2019. That board voted to post signs and fine violators, and then the ordinance was forgotten. Signs were never posted. The ban was unenforceable until I wrote about it earlier this year. Within a month the signs were installed.

Another example is the Highway 49 waterline extension. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a pipeline needed to serve a community just north of town where people have been living with contaminated wells for decades.

It’s a project that should have been completed a decade ago or more. Instead, the project was picked up and dropped and picked up, and dropped, and picked up again in 2019 only to be dropped again in, I think it was 2020?

To me, it’s never been a question of whether the water line should be built. The question is how? How do we get there from here? I want to be part of that discussion.

You’ve heard the saying, too many cooks spoil the broth, right? Well, we’ve had too many cooks in Ramseur’s kitchen for too long.

Think about it. A governing board of five essentially random citizens, acting as managers of all the town departments, changing members every few years? That’s a really inefficient way to run anything, especially anything as complex as a town. This lack of cohesive professional management is the root of most of the political drama Ramseur’s Boards have been infamous for since long before I moved into town. Let’s not go backward even further this year.

Having a town manager will reduce miscommunications and misunderstandings across the board. One employee, responsible to the Board of Commissioners, charged with leading our administrative office and overseeing the management of every department the town operates is the continuity and stability Ramseur so badly needs to prosper and grow sensibly in the coming years.

Having a qualified town manager would allow Ramseur’s Commissioners more oversight and input into policy decisions, not less, and I hope it will ultimately lead to more citizen engagement with the board and its decisions.

These are improvements I think most of us would like to see, and I’m looking forward to being a part of how we get there.

Doing the right thing.

A little over two months ago I told you that I would not be running for a seat on the Ramseur Board of Commissioners this year.  When I wrote that statement I meant it, but someone has to step up and start asking the hard questions, demanding straight answers, and pumping the brakes when commissioners want to do things that are ineffective, inefficient, or downright unethical, and I don’t see anyone doing that.

You’re going to hear a lot of garbage over the next few months, coming from people who either want to replace our mayor and take us backward ten to twenty years. You’re also likely to hear a bunch of nonsense from those who want to maintain the status quo because that somehow benefits them. Rest assured all of it will be just that, garbage.

We’ve watched members of this board spend most of the last few years wasting money – our money – on high-priced consultants and professional services, but we’re still several YEARS behind on budget audits, and not just one audit, several. I think the correct number is three fiscal years, but getting information out of that office is harder than pulling teeth these days, so don’t quote me on that detail.

Unfinished budget audits mean less grant money available for our town, and at this point there’s no excuse for being so far behind. We can’t even fully implement the “Southern” accounting software, which this board began talking about soon after taking office in 2020, because we can’t get an accurate accounting of our finances! This is beyond unacceptable.

No one on the board now wants to discuss moving toward a more permanent and sustainable way of managing our town and its enterprises. I want to have that conversation, and I think many of you do as well. I want to talk about our options for sustaining and growing our water and sewer infrastructure, but I’m not convinced that the town of Ramseur needs to go it alone in that regard, nor do I believe that I have all the answers.

I want to have those discussions and many others that this board seems unwilling or unable to entertain. It’s hard to have adult conversations with people who want to point fingers or hide behind false identities to play games on the Internet, but these discussions need to happen or some of those decisions will be made for us by people who don’t live here.

There’s only one thing for me to do, and that’s to put my name on a ballot. Today I am asking you to give me the opportunity to help fix this. How? By being the kind of commissioner who refuses to jump off cliffs until I know where I’m going to land. Decisions with far-reaching consequences should not get pushed through with less than five minutes of discussion or zero debate.

I believe it’s better to get caught doing the right thing than to go along to get along. That means asking hard questions and demanding good answers before any vote is taken or insisting that issues be tabled for more study and doing your homework. It means voting against the majority, even if you have to stand alone when you know that there are better options or more correct ways of getting things done.

I’m not a good campaigner, and I’m certainly not a politician. I tell people what I really think instead of what they want to hear, and I’ve never been one to sugarcoat the truth. I may even speak in an abrasive manner at times, but I will always tell you what I believe is the truth, and if new information changes my opinion I’m not afraid of being wrong.

About nine years ago I bought a house in the middle of Ramseur, and I will probably live there until the day I die. I have a vested interest in the success of this municipality, and everything to lose if it doesn’t succeed. I would much rather be at home making art, or digging in my garden, or at band practice making music, but since I had a hand in creating this mess four years ago, I feel that I owe you – my neighbors – the opportunity to either accept what I have to offer or tell me to go home.

We often hear candidates for public office talk about their accomplishments in the business world, the number of employees they’ve directed, or the big budgets they’ve managed, and while those people often do have something to offer, I know how to make do with less. I raised two kids and started a business that I’ve been running now for almost thirteen years, on one modest income, so yes, I know a little something about operating on a shoestring, stretching dollars, and getting creative in order to survive.

In Ramseur, where all we ever hear about is how we can’t afford this or that solution, knowing how to make do with less seems like a good skill to bring to the table. So yes, this year I am a candidate for a seat on the board of commissioners because it seems like the right thing to do.

“F**k you, f**k your mama, and f**k your sister.”

The headline above is one I never expected to publish on this website, and I apologize to those whom it may offend, but it’s necessary. They are not my words. They are the exact words that 79-year-old, former Ramseur mayor Hampton “Happy” Spivey shouted at me from the bottom of the front steps of the municipal office after a community information meeting tonight.

Spivey followed me out of the building and waited until I was over 100 feet away before yelling at me, “Hubbard, you don’t know shit.” This is from a man who hasn’t been to a meeting since he resigned in disgrace about a decade ago, so I suspect he doesn’t know “shit” either anymore, especially at almost eighty years old.

I admit it, I yelled something equally nice back at him after that first comment, and that’s when he yelled, “Fuck you, fuck your mama, and fuck your sister!” I don’t have a sister, Mr. Spivey, so screw you right back, asshole!

My response was, “The best thing that ever happened to this town was the day you took a swing in public and got sent home.” Unfortunately, the old geezer couldn’t hear me and asked me to repeat it, so I did, at a volume level I’m pretty sure could be heard across the river.

This was the first time I ever laid eyes on Mr. Spivey in the more than eight years I’ve been a citizen of this town. In fact, you can probably hear my friend, Mr. Cheek, identify him to me in the video. It’s unfortunate that I cut the recorder off as soon as the meeting ended, but there was at least one witness. Sitting in the SUV next to where old Happy was standing when he verbally assaulted me was Mr. Benware, who sits on our planning board. There’s no way he didn’t hear what Spivey was spouting.

Anyway, the video below captured most of the meeting, and I’m sorry the sound quality is no better. If Commissioner Parrish really wanted to inform the public he would have had “his” camera running. It ought to run anytime any public meeting takes place in that room. I still say Ramseur needs to join in or help create a regional water authority, but that would take a little control away from Commissioner Parrish, and we all know that being in control of everything is his top priority.

You know, I really don’t feel up to running for a seat this year, but that old s.o.b. might make me change my mind.