Category Archives: MUNICIPALITIES
WATER CUSTOMERS ALONG PORTIONS OF JANIERO ROAD AND ADJACENT ROADS
The Pamlico County Water Department is issuing a notice of planned water outages for Tuesday, February, 28 2017. Water will be disconnected related to Department of Transportation repairs to the road system. Consumers along the following roads will be affected: Carolina Way, Clubhouse Rd., Cribb Ln., Edmonds Rd., Edna Ct., Elbert Lee Rd., Hardison Lee Farm Rd., Janiero Rd . (2511-4003), Josie Way, Joyce Ct., Martin Rd., Meadow Ln., Morningside Dr., Neuse Village Rd., Roland Rd., Salter Dr., Shine Dr., Southern Way, Sunrise Haven Rd., Sunshine Dr., Whitehall Rd., and any other roads that adjoin Janiero Rd.
Outages could begin as early as 7:00 a.m. and continue throughout the day.
Residents in these areas are encouraged to store or purchase water for use during the outage. If you have any questions, you may contact the water department at (252) 745-5453.
Following the outages, a system pressure advisory will be issued.
Nod goes to Baskervill – decision by county’s highest board could come in Feb. 6 meeting
Paul Delamar January 22, 2017
Pamlico County Board of Commissioners
Bayboro, NC 28571
January 22, 2017
I am writing regarding the recent resignation of Commissioner Kenny Heath from Township 5 Precinct. It is my understanding the appointment of a replacement is the decision of the Pamlico County Board of Commissioners, in consultation with the Executive Committee of the appropriate political party (NC GS 153-27).
Over the last few weeks prior to and following the resignation of Commissioner Heath, the Pamlico County GOP Executive Committee has discussed several potential candidates as a replacement. We are fortunate in that three members of the Executive Committee live in Township 5 and have a good knowledge of qualified candidates.
The Pamlico County GOP Executive Committee is recommending Mrs. Missy Baskervill, of 384 Beards Creek Drive in Arapahoe, as the replacement for the open seat on the Pamlico County Board of Commissioners. This recommendation was a unanimous decision by the Committee with one abstention due to a potential conflict of interest.
We have met with Mrs. Baskervill and she is willing and honored to serve the Arapahoe Precinct if appointed to the position by the Board of Commissioners. She also indicated her desire to continue serving as Chairman for the Pamlico County Board of Equalization and Review if the Board so desires.
The Executive Committee firmly supports this recommendation and believes Mrs. Baskervill is an ideal candidate based on her experience and knowledge of the many complex issues in Pamlico County. She previously served on the Board of Commissioners during the late 1990’s and served as Chairman of the Pamlico County Board of Equalization and Review in 2015-2016. In the past, Missy served on the Pamlico County Land Use Planning Committee and served for many years as the Pamlico County CRAC alternate and/or primary appointee. She also served, in the 1990’s, by Gubernatorial appointment, on a stakeholder’s committee charged with formulation of North Carolina’s “riparian rights” laws.
Missy’s family purchased property here in the late 1970’s and she along with members of her family relocated here in 1980 to develop a large Marina in Minnesott Beach, (Minnesott Beach Yacht Basin, sold in 2004 and now known as Wayfarer’s Cove). She has operated a real estate business in Pamlico County since 1988 and continues to work in the real estate industry. She has lived in the Township 5 Precinct for approximately 34 years.
We respectfully submit the name of Mrs. Baskervill as a replacement candidate for the open seat representing the Arapahoe Precinct and look forward to the Board’s decision.
Chairman, Pamlico County Republican Party
Only GOP face on board for many years
BAYBORO – Time marches on could have been the theme for Monday night’s meeting of the Pamlico County Board of Commissioners:
• Mele, a conservative Republican retires after almost two decades of service, as she accepts a plaque from fellow board member Pat Prescott.
• Young men, in a rite of passage, tackling a Boy Scouts’ assignment.
• Kathryn Tyndall, accepting a Resolution of Appreciation from board chairman Paul Delamar, as she steps down from her current post as tax assessor after 28 years in a variety of county jobs.
• Sarah Davis taking the Oath of Office to replace Tyndall, while her husband (and Pamlico County Sheriff) Chris Davis holds the Bible.
• Re-elected County Commissioners Pat Prescott and Kenny Heath, sworn in along with Candy Bohmert, a Republican who assumes Mele’s seat on the seven-member board.
Small bombs, strategically placed, could wreak havoc for years!
By Gordon Allison, Jr. | News Analyst
Part 2 in a series
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA — In April of 2013, snipers pumped some 100 shots into 17 high power transformers at a substation here. The attack took less than 20 minutes. Some 52,000 gallons of high dielectric transformer oil were spilled. What we don’t know is whether the snipers were practicing for a terrorist event or just causing harm and mayhem.
Three years later there remains a $250,000 unclaimed reward leading to the capture of the perpetrators. Those of us too young to remember the days of World War II, may not know that army troops were placed on guard at power substations to protect the transformers, voltage regulators and switching systems that saboteurs could destroy.
Depending on the response times of the grid control systems, it may be possible for terrorists to use a few bombs to knock out the grid for anywhere from a few months up to three or four years. A decade ago a mere tree branch falling on a critical power line in the Cleveland area knocked out power for much of the Northeast.
A smart terrorist attack would be like tree limbs on STEROIDS!!
Since most power utilities have gone to smart metering on homes and businesses to determine how much power has been used for accurate billing, customers using the Internet have access to their power usage information. There is great concern that these utility power systems can be hacked so terrorists or foreign governments might obtain control of the U.S. power grid.
George Westinghouse with Nicola Tesla’s engineering (Alternating Current “AC” power) won out over General Electric and Thomas Edison (Direct Current “DC” power) as the basis for the electric power system utilized today because AC power can be transported over long distances with relatively low loss. The advantage of AC is that it can be generated at any output voltage, and a transformer will change the generated voltage to a higher voltage to send the power over long distances economically.
One difference between AC and DC voltage is that the AC current only flows on the surface of the wire while DC current flows throughout the wire. The higher the frequency of the AC voltage the less it penetrates the wire’s surface. When the transmission line voltage is high, you will likely see a pair of conductors for each of the three phases instead of the more normal one wire. This is because the magnetic field of each of the conductors forces the electricity to penetrate the wire more deeply than normal. Therefore the wires can carry more current since the resistance has been reduced. Some places where large amounts of power have to be transmitted over long distances, transmission lines will carry DC power instead of AC. This uses all the wire to carry the power, not just the surface of the wire. DC systems can be found in the Dakotas and running from the Corvallis, OR area to the Los Angeles, CA area.
Transformers have a core of a specialty iron. A primary and a secondary winding are connected by the magnetic field generated in the iron core. Often the primary is wound with copper wire and the secondary is wound with aluminum wire. This saves money over transformers of all copper wire. Just about all power transformers are placed in tanks with special oil that conducts heat from the transformer iron core to the fins or case of the unit. For very high capacity transformers, large fans are installed with the fins to provide extra cooling. Smaller transformers have convective cooling to move the flow of oil from the top of the transformer into the cooling fin and flowing downward in the fin to reach the bottom of the iron core. Loss of the cooling oil can allow the core to heat up and melt the copper wiring in the transformer winding(s). Overloading the transformer can cause a similar overheating problem.
Also it takes less iron in the power transformers to pass a certain power level with 60 Hz power versus 50 Hz power that is used mostly in Europe. The weight problem of power transformers is solved in aircraft by using 400 Hz electric power. These 400 Hz transformers are quite a bit smaller and lighter in weight than the 60 Hz ones for a given power level.
Once AC power is generated, it has to be moved to where the customers are located. And since electrical power obeys Ohm’s law (power is equal to volts times amps), resistance increases as the wire length increases. Ideally, the transmission wires would be best if they had no resistance; then all the power generated would be delivered to the customers. To deliver the 1,500 watts to run a toaster or a blow dryer, a 120 volt AC (VAC) household circuit has to deliver 12.5 amps to the electrical outlet the device is plugged into. If either of these devices were plugged into European power sources which run 230 VAC typically, the same 1,500 watt devices would each draw only 6.5 amps. Of course, these devices would have to be dual-voltage rated to avoid destruction when operating on 230 VAC. But it is for this same reason that transmission lines which deliver the power from the power plant to the distribution point operate at extremely high voltages. Higher voltages mean lower currents for a given amount of power. Lower currents mean smaller wire, which saves money and power line losses are reduced too.
In the Grantsboro area, Duke Energy delivers Tideland EMC’s power on 230,000 volt wires. Dominion Power delivers power to Tideland on 115,000 volt and 34,500 volt wires. Some transmission lines have voltages as high as 765,000 volts. Transmission line voltages are generated by taking the voltage of the power source and running it into a step-up transformer. When the power is delivered to the local distribution system, step-down transformers in substations drop the voltage to 24,900 volts or 14,400 volts.
The power lines on the tops of the poles bring the 12,500 volts into your neighborhood. There you will see steel tanks mounted to the poles which drop the power line voltage to 120/240 volts which runs into your home via the power meter on your house. The outlets in your home have 120 volts on them. Big, single socket outlets have 240 volts for things such as stoves/ovens and clothes dryers. If you have a shop, you may have 240 volts there to run large air compressors. Central air conditioners use 240 volts for the compressor/condenser unit and the heat strips in the air handler when additional heating is required by heat pump systems on very cold winter days. Some neighborhoods have the local distribution power run underground to the green square boxes on the lawn. From these step-down transformers, the underground service entrance cables distribute power to one or more homes without the use of overhead power lines. The electric meter on your home reports your power usage to Tideland EMC via data signals sent over the power line that brings AC power into your home.
Since electric power is generated in real time, therefore it must be measured in real time also. Some of this metering and control signaling (known in the power business as SCADA – Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) is sent along on the power lines themselves. Other times the data is relayed via fibre optic, cellular and microwave radio systems. Most power utilities have gone to smart meters on your home and businesses. This is how the power utility knows how much power you have used and can bill you for it accurately. Since you can set up an account with Tideland EMC as a customer using the internet, you have access to your power usage information. Tideland allows you to log onto their website, set up an account and get information on your power usage. They can warn you if your power usage increases abruptly so you won’t be surprised by a huge power bill.
POWER SYSTEM PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
Why does your lighting blink before the power comes back on or goes off for minutes or hours at a time. This is the result of a device called a recloser. You can think of a recloser as a smart circuit breaker. These devices open the AC power connection temporarily should a tree branch fall on the lines, for example. This action serves three purposes. First, it shuts off the power to protect the wires from melting when a short is present. Secondly, the recloser resets the power to “on” without having to send out a line crew to return power on the circuit. This action keeps the short circuit from overheating other transformers closer to the power source (upstream) which could cause them to fail. Thirdly, the power being disconnected stops the tree branch from getting hot and bursting into flame. This is why you can do Tideland and your neighbors a great service by monitoring your trees in the vicinity of your home where the power lines run. One Sunday afternoon, some wind caused a pine tree in my front yard to break and fall on my power entrance wires. Since the branch didn’t disconnect from the tree, as the tree swayed back and forth, the branch rubbed on the wires. Eventually, the branch could wear through the insulation and cause a short. I called Tideland about 3 PM and a crew arrived to remove the branch about 6 PM. You can’t beat that for service on a Sunday afternoon.
The recloser activates and breaks the power momentarily and turns the power back on. If the tree branch hit the power lines and kept on falling to the ground, then power is restored. Life is good. If the fallen branch needs a little help from the wind to clear the power lines, then the recloser gives another power “hit” and resets. Should the branch continue to short the power lines, then the recloser shuts off power for several seconds. If the line doesn’t clear this time, it repeats the process. However, if the short hasn’t cleared, the recloser goes into what is called the lockout mode. Then the power is off until the linemen find the problem, fix it, and then reset the recloser.
SYSTEM-WIDE POTENTIAL PROBLEMS
You have no doubt heard people say the grid needs upgrading, replacement, or overhauling. Upgrading means several things. One is that the growth of electricity demand requires larger wires to carry more current (Amperes) and new equipment to control the routing of power over the grid. Power transformers are key components in generating the power, transmitting the power and distributing the power. They can last for decades without needing replacement or repair. Some transformers may get a scratch on the exterior coating and with a wet climate, the steel tanks will rust. Experience tells us that at some point the power company will have to replace it. Distribution transformers have common input voltages and 120/240 volt outputs. Twenty-five kilowatts is a common size for these transformers. However, most of the large transformers at the generation site and the beginning of the distribution system are pretty much custom made. And custom means the lead time from placement of the order until it is delivered can range from one to two YEARS. As power demands grow, transformers can reach capacity and need replacement with larger capacity transformers.
In a previous article dealing with a phenomenon known as Electro-Magnetic Pulse, or EMP, there was a reference to the Carrington Event around the first of September in 1859. This event was traced to a Coronal Mass Eruption “CME” (sunspot) that sent a stream of charged particles to Earth from the surface of the Sun. As you may recall that event lasted for several days and disrupted telegraph transmissions. A similar event today striking Earth straight on would cause the iron cores of the transformers to saturate. This means the transformers would stop passing the electric power to the grid and from the grid to your home or business. If the power were not shut off quickly enough, the power from the generation source could burn out the transformers.
When the grid cannot support demands on it to deliver AC power, then the voltage is reduced to limit the power available to only the amount of power the system can produce. One utility may need 100 MW of extra power, but no other utility or group of utilities can supply that amount. Something has to give, and it is the line voltage. Brown-outs occur around 95 VAC instead of the normal 120 VAC. The problem is that motors used in compressors (air conditioners, refrigerators, freezers, heat pumps, etc.) draw more current when the voltage is decreased. More current means the windings get hot, the wires’ insulation breaks down, a short occurs, and the motor dies. Some equipment has protection against brown-out conditions. However, EMP might just destroy the protection circuit(s).
My next installment in tbis series deals with so called green energy — why it isn’t and who gets stuck for the power bill.
County Compass Exclusive
By Gordon Allison, Jr. | News Analyst
Part 1 in a series
The Grid is also known as the AC power grid, which is a system of three basic components providing 120/240 Volts AC to your home and offices, or 277/480 Volts AC to factories and heavy industry.
This week, we’ll look at the components (power source, transmission, and distribution) to see how they interact in order to transport electric power. Next week, among other things, we’ll see why we use Alternating Current (think George Westinghouse) rather than Direct Current (think Thomas Edison).
The Grid (actually five of them) allows power to be bought and sold among electric utility companies. Peak electrical loads can be handled by utility companies, with any excess available for sale to another utility that has a need. Interconnects between the grids allow power purchases from utilities geographically removed from the area where power is needed.
Beginning at the source, there are thermal/steam generating power plants, solar farms, and wind turbines. Other possible sources can be tides, biomass, dams, and geothermal. Each power source has its pros and cons. This is what engineers call “Trade-offs.” In other words: “There is no free lunch!” Steam/thermal power plants include nuclear, coal-fired, natural gas-fired, and diesel. Up until recently, over 50 percent of U.S. electricity came from coal-fired steam boilers.
The Clean Power Plan (CPP) edict by the EPA to change to natural gas penalized the electric producers that invested billions of dollars to add scrubbers to the smoke stacks for making them EPA compliant by reducing fly ash. Boilers produce steam energy needed to spin the turbines, which rotate the generators to produce electricity. There is still carbon dioxide coming out, but particulate matter (fly ash) is reduced. Accordingly, the electricity users, you and I, had to pay for those improvements which are unnecessary when natural gas is used. Natural gas is taking over ever larger percentages for producing the primary supply of electricity generation in the US since the smoke stack emissions are mandated by the EPA to be “less.”
In today’s world, the single most used energy source is natural gas for generating electrical power in the US. We will talk about the CPP later on.
Also, railroad trains carrying coal to the power plants will be unnecessary, but we will have to build more high pressure gas pipelines to move natural gas from the oil fields to the power plants. Remember the “Keystone” Pipe line that Obama and the environmentalists opposed a couple years ago? Now there is a mandate to have high pressure natural gas pipelines! How come the environmentalists haven’t jumped on the gas pipelines the way they did on Keystone? Is that crazy or what? Does anyone smell payoff? Then again natural gas costs more per therm than coal-fired energy. Ergo, your electricity just got more expensive. Good paying coal mining jobs are being lost too. And those jobs are not being exported to China or anywhere else! This is all a part of the trade-off. Is anyone asking if the trade-offs are acceptable?
Some places on the east coast have power plants located at the mouths of the coal mines. Dominion Power Company built one long ago at Mt. Storm, WVA. These facilities cut back on the numbers of trains hauling coal to the power plants. Mine-mouth electric generation plants allow the delivery of power over transmission lines instead of having more power plants in urban areas. Those mine-mouth power plants will be closed down and new gas fired ones will be built in areas where high pressure gas lines are available. Remember back in 2010 when a buried 30-inch diameter high pressure pipeline exploded in San Bruno, CA, killing 15 people? The cause was loss of monitoring and control, plus pipeline failure. Just imagine what a terrorist can do with these new explosive pipeline toys!
Nuclear power plants use atoms to boil water or liquify metallic sodium, or heat helium gas, which transfers the heat in the reactor to a heat exchanger for boiling deionized, purified water to feed the steam turbines. Then the low temperature, low pressure steam goes to one of the big cooling towers to convert the steam back to water and the water returns to the heat exchanger again. One power company decided to use buildings in downtown Denver, CO to cool the water as the waste heat warmed the buildings there. The waste heat came from coal-fired boilers located in Denver, not nuclear reactors. This is called a “win-win” in engineering parlance as the buildings got relatively cheaper heat and the power company could get another stream of income without paying more for energy, thus saving the electric utility customers money.
Tideland EMC gets power from North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation (NCEMC) that represents 26 member-owned utilities here in North Carolina. NCEMC also owns approximately 61% of unit one of the Catawba Nuclear Plant in South Carolina. Tideland EMC gets power for its customers south of the Pamlico River from Duke Power (Grantsboro District) and customers on the north side of the Pamlico River get power from Dominion Power in Virginia (Pantego, Englehard, and Ocracoke Districts).
Looking at renewable energy sources, solar and wind power are not economical; yet the NC legislature passed a law requiring utilities to purchase 6% of their electric needs from renewables. This percentage increases to 10% in 2018. As reported by John Woodward in a December 2015 issue of the Beaufort Observer, two professors from NC State made the case for “hidden” costs of renewable energy. Some percentage of the renewable energy generated must have other sources to back it up on cloudy days and windless ones. Therefore, when solar or wind power is purchased, additional non-renewable power has to be made available. This raises the cost of your electricity. Oh, by the way, your tax dollars are given to the renewable energy owners as an incentive to build solar and wind facilities since they are not cost competitive with coal, gas and nuclear power. The US Government even made “loans” to companies such as Solandra to make cheap solar voltaic panels. When those companies promptly folded, taxpayers were left holding a $500 million empty bag.
Another cost overlooked by renewable energy cheerleaders is the fact that power generators are not run at their most efficient points when alternative sources of power come on line. Back in my high school days, I toured a coal-fired power plant owned by Virginia Electric and Power Company (VEPCO), now known as Dominion Power. The coal-fired generators were tested on a regular basis for efficiency. The generators in this particular plant ran with efficiencies of 89% to 93% – bigger generators have higher efficiencies. If the generators run less efficiently, the cost per kWh of electricity increases, and this additional cost is passed on to the customers.
Electric power is pretty much a no-inventory business. When you turn on a light, the power system has to generate that power instantly. The possible exception is something like hydro-electric power. As long as there is water in the reservoir, power comes on-line by dumping more water through the turbine. Dominion Power in Virginia has its version of hydro power at Smith Mountain Lake. At night, the turbines pump water out of a river and into the lake/reservoir using excess capacity. During the day when power is needed, water is released into the river to generate power. No, it is not 100% efficient, but it helps cover daytime peak loads.
In the 1970s, the Salt River Project in Phoenix, Arizona needed more electric capacity. One option was a solar boiler system since the primary load in Phoenix was air conditioning in the summer. A lot of homes were dual energy – using gas heat and electricity for lights and air conditioning. A solar boiler system would have done the job as it puts out the most power when the summer temperatures are the hottest. However, the sun stopped producing enough power at sunset, and the high temperatures lasted until later in the evening, which made the nuclear option the better choice. Also, getting a nuclear permit to build a power plant back then was easier than in today’s environment. A nuclear plant was built on the west side of Phoenix.
Two heliostat (solar boiler) power plants have been built in California. The original one was erected in the Barstow, CA area and the newer one is west of the gambling town of Laughlin, NV in Ivanpah, CA. The power system works on the principle of a field of about 300 mirrors (heliostats) surrounding a central tower about 165 feet tall. The mirrors are controlled by a computer, so each mirror receives sunlight and directs it onto the black boiler at the top of the tower. The mirrors track the sun as it moves across the sky each day. Water is boiled and superheated to over 1,000 degrees F. The high pressure, high temperature steam then drives the turbine to generate electric power. The new Ivanpah plant has a storage system that uses eutectic salts. These salts, when heated, change phase from solid to liquid. This allows the steam power plant to continue full output for an additional two hours after the sun goes down. The steam heats the eutectic salts to store heat and return water to the boiler on the tower. When the sun goes down or behind a cloud, water is heated by the liquid salts to make steam to drive the turbine. As heat is removed from the liquid salts, they re-solidify.
To get some appreciation for the technology involved in power generation with solar or wind power sources, the power output can vary or stop all together – at any time. To keep power flowing in your home to run your blow dryer, for example, the instant it turns on, your power company has to supply that additional electricity immediately. And when you are finished with the blow dryer, the power company has to stop making that amount of electricity – immediately. That is no mean feat!
So what actually happens is the power frequency of 60 Hz goes down when the load is put on line and the frequency goes up a little when the load comes off. How did the power frequency come to be 60 Hz? When the Edison (incandescent) light bulb was run on 60 Hz, most humans could not discern there was a flicker in the light output. There is a noticeable flicker with 50 Hz power systems. On the Tideland system, I have recorded a low frequency of 59.8 Hz.
Next time, we’ll look at the transformer, the heart of the power system, as it connects the pieces of the grid puzzle together. You’ll also see how the AC power is delivered to your home and what things might occur to interrupt the flow of power in the system.
BAYBORO – Credit veteran elected official, Carl Ollison, for thwarting a sneaky, last minute attempt to raise property taxes in Pamlico County. Though he did most of the heavy lifting Monday night, Ollison needed votes from three of his colleagues – Ann Holton, Pat Prescott, and Kenny Heath — to derail a 2.5 cent increase in the ad valorem tax rate proposed by Republican County Commissioner Christine Mele.
But, let’s not give Heath too many accolades! In a lively debate on Mele’s motion, Heath signaled that he, too, was in a tax-increasing mood.
“A two-cent increase is what I had in mind,” suggested Heath, “but I can’t go along with the two and a half cents that Christine wants!”
Mele’s motion, seconded by Paul Delamar III, came quickly — exactly one nanosecond after a required public hearing on next year’s budget had been gaveled closed.
Ollison objected to the timing.
“I don’t think it’s right to spring it (tax increase) on the public at the last minute,” said Ollison.
Ann Holton agreed.
“I didn’t know about this until two or three minutes ago,” said Holton. “Why weren’t we discussing this three weeks ago?”
And, Pat Prescott, also suggested her opposition:
“I was not thinking about one (tax increase) quite that large,” she said. .
Observers familiar with Pamlico County politics saw the ploy as a classic example of back room deals, exemplifying conduct and tactics that the electorate despises from politicians and elected officials.
Mele, set to retire from her seat in November, has been a stalwart fiscal conservative for most of her years on the Pamlico County Commission. However, during several budget workshops over the past two months leading up to Monday night, she warned using savings to balance the county budget is not a prudent thing to do.
“We take on an awesome responsibility as county commissioners, “ she said. “With this budget, we are kicking the can down the road. I think that is irresponsible.”
Delamar hinted Mele’s proposal could have been better timed.
“I decided to support this in the last two hours,” he said. “There are cuts in the budget that can be made, but not $1.3 million in cuts.”
Ed Riggs Jr., the board’s newest member, also sided with Mele.
“If we don’t do it now (raise taxes), we’re probably going to need to do it next year – only at a bigger rate,” said Riggs.
The final vote was 4 to 3: Ollison, Holton, Prescott, and Heath voted no, killing the measure over the yes votes of Mele, Delamar, and Riggs.
But, here is where Ollison deftly played the right card, and he did it quickly.
“I move that we adopt the budget as submitted by our county manager,” said Ollison, winning a second from Ann Holton.
A short time later — with an almost perceptible shrug of shoulders – the entire board voted in lock step to unanimously approve the budget with no tax increase.
Ollison’s decisive parliamentary procedure effectively nixed a looming motion – where Heath would have had a majority supporting his two-cent tax increase. And, after a vote to approve the budget, attorney Jimmie Hicks advised the board to steer clear of any immediate tax increase discussions.
‘I’ve never seen anything like this happen before,” said Hicks. “The budget is one thing, but changing the tax rate after approving the budget is another.”
After the meeting, Ollison said “I knew none of the commissioners would vote against the budget that we have been working on for so long.”
So give Ollison an accolade or two the next time you seem him. Better yet, you can find his cell number on Page A-13 of this newspaper — on the Ollison Construction business card.
One benchmark tops among small counties
BAYBORO – Monday night, Pamlico County’s seven commissioners were almost crowing as accountant Chris Burton of New Bear-based CPA firm of Carr, Riggs, & Ingram offered his synopsis of the required annual audit.
With an “unassigned fund balance of $7.3 million,” which is accountant speak for county savings that can be used for any purpose, Burton said the figure is equivalent to 45 percent of the county’s typical annual expenses.
“That’s really strong,” said a smiling Burton, who added: “And that figure is up from last year when it was 33 percent.”
Direct from Page 4 of the 100-plus page document are the actual bullet points:
At the end of the current fiscal year, unassigned fund balance for the General Funds was $7,383.527, or 45.21% of total general fund expenditures of $16,332,156 for the fiscal year.
Pamlico County’s total debt decreased by $574,790, or 3.58% during the current fiscal year. The key factor in the decrease was the repayment of debt principal.
Tax collection rate was 95.89 percent for FY 2014-2015. This represents a slight increase from last year, but still remains the third highest collection rate since FY 1981-82.
Although there’s no way to predict the future, don’t look for your elected officials to refund any of your property taxes – despite the county government’s abundant savings account.
County Commissioner Paul Delamar III recalled dire financial times in late 2011, following a spike in Hurricane Irene related expenses. He said the county’s reserves came in mighty handy!
“Back then, there was a point when we it looked like we might have trouble meeting payroll,” recalled Delamar. “We eventually received reimbursements from FEMA, but those always come several fiscal years after a hurricane. That’s why we need a decent size fund balance.”
ORIENTAL – The mood was festive and upbeat Tuesday night as the Town Hall brimmed with well-wishers for new mayor Sally Belangia and new town commissioner Allen Price.
The town has now seen three different mayors in less than six months.
Belangia grew up in Oriental and has been the local face of First Citizens Bank for decades. She encountered no opposition in the November election and takes over from Warren Johnson, a well-regarded former town commissioner, who agreed in July of this year to serve the unexpired mayoral term of embattled local attorney Bill Sage.
Earlier this year, Sage caught plenty of flak in the community after being disciplined for improper conduct by the North Carolina State Bar, triggering revocation of his license to practice law in the state. Sage, and his wife Dee no longer reside in Oriental.
Price – a newcomer to Oriental politics – surprised many when he emerged as the top vote getter among seven candidates who vied for the town’s five board seats. Four incumbents – Charlie Overcash, David White, Barb Venturi, and Sandy Winfrey – were re-elected.
In this small waterfront community, almost everyone lives close to something. Price, however, can lay claim to one distinction. His Broad Street home is just a stone’s throw from the Oriental Town Hall.
Herbicide for roadways ‘safe,’ says DOT
Thank you for contacting the NC Department of Transportation regarding roadside vegetation in Pamlico County. NCDOT utilizes industry-approved techniques to control the undergrowth of small trees, bushes and grass along the roadsides. Mowing is the primary tool used by the Department to control this type of vegetation. However, when vegetation becomes too dense to mow or when mowing does not keep safety sight lines open, we utilize herbicides specifically formulated to control the limbs and stems to which it is applied. The herbicides are approved for use by the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and we regularly monitor post application impacts.
Good roadside vegetation management improves the area designated as the “safety or clear recovery zone” by moving the vegetation away from the road and allowing daylight to facilitate melting of snow and ice. The Federal Highway Administration encourages the establishment and maintenance of “Clear Zones” as they can increase the likelihood that a vehicle running off the road results in a safe recovery rather than a crash.
Of the two methods, spraying is the most cost effective approach to managing the safety recovery zone and ensuring safe sight distances. We realize this treatment results in discoloration, which you are currently observing, but usage is environmentally safe and fiscally responsible. The impact is temporary and will diminish with the first frost.
Please find the responses to the questions that were submitted.
1. What is the chemical that was sprayed?
Compadre (drift control)
2. How much was sprayed (in gallons)?
2,093.5 gallons of Krenite
907.6 gallons of Triclopyr 3
114.1 gallons of surfactant
15.3 gallons of Compadre Drift Control
3. Why was it sprayed?
There are two choices to control brush: mechanical and herbicidal.
Mechanical control methods have not provided long-term control of vegetation, so a professional decision was made to utilize herbicide control methods.
The herbicide method will provide sufficient vegetation management for four to five years. Additional control measures will not have to occur until this time period is complete.
4. Who authorized the spraying?
NCDOT Division personnel followed an integrated roadside vegetation management approach to determine the course of treatment.
5. Was there a review process used to make the decision to spray?
Yes. The Department reviews the benefits of each vegetation control method and then evaluates public safety, environmental impacts, and cost to determine the best control method to use.
6. Who was involved in that review process to spray (if there was one)?
NCDOT Division Management
NCDOT Division Roadside Environmental Engineer
NCDOT Central Roadside Unit.
7. Was there any concern for the environmental effects of the spraying?
Products used in this application are approved by the EPA, which evaluates them using over 120 different biological, toxicological and environmental tests before releasing them for industry use. If a product fails any of these tests, it is not approved for use or labeling. In addition, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services must approve products before they can be sold in our state.
The Department applied the herbicide products in accordance with the herbicide usage labels.
8. Was a cost benefit analysis conducted?
The Department evaluated the cost associated with mechanical vs herbicide management options in the control of vegetation along the highways of North Carolina. Mechanical methods will provide effective control for one to two years while herbicide methods will provide control for four to five years.
In order to provide a safe travel way for North Carolina citizens for the best cost benefit, the use of herbicides proved to be an economical and efficient means to control the vegetation.
9. What are the potentially detrimental effects on algae, fish, shrimp, crabs, and oysters?
There were no in-water applications; therefore, this application will have no adverse effects upon aquatic organisms. If in-water application were necessary, the Department would use the appropriate herbicide product labeled for aquatic usage.
10. Were these potentially detrimental effects considered in the decision to spray?
11. Are the parties responsible for the spraying liable for defoliation that occurred on private property?
The Department of Transportation is tasked with maintaining a safe and reliable transportation system. The control of vegetation has proven that if left unmanaged the vegetation will result in unsafe conditions for the traveling public. It is not the intent of the Department to engage in any maintenance activity that will result in damage to adjacent property owners and thus takes all precautions to avoid any damage that would devalue adjacent property.
Submitted by Brian Rick, Public Information Officer
District 2 & 3, N.C. Department of Transportation
Sewer, drainage work underway on low-lying area
Editor’s note: At the request of this newspaper, Chris Venters, superintendent of Bay River Metropolitan Sewerage District, submitted this analysis of the Thursday, Aug. 27, sewer spill in the Town of Oriental.
By Chris Venters, Superintendent
Bay River Metropolitan Sewerage District
ORIENTAL — On August 27, 2015, the Town of Oriental wastewater system, owned and operated by Bay River MSD, had a sewage spill of approximately 15,000 gallons, which eventually went into the Neuse River and Whittaker Creek. This spill was caused by excessive rainfall of over six inches that fell in a short amount of time causing the Town of Oriental’s storm water system to overflow and flood certain areas of the town. This flooding caused areas of the wastewater collection system to become completely submerged, allowing the storm water to enter the sewer system through the top of Number 4 Lift Station, manhole covers, and residential cleanouts.
These areas are not designed to be underwater.
The Neuse River also became elevated, which further caused flooding in the low-lying areas and failure of the Oriental storm water system. That part of the sewer system located in Oriental is designed to handle the flows of domestic wastewater within the town, as well as some capacity for ground water infiltration and inflow (surface drainage), and does so on a daily basis without incident.
It could be concluded that this spill was solely cause by an act of nature (excessive rainfall) and a storm water system unable to cope with the excessive flows. One might ask, what is the remedy for the storm water problems that are somewhat frequent to Oriental? I think that the previous interim Town Manager Wyatt Cutler, said it best: “Either raise the Town or lower the Neuse River.”
Storm water problems are shared by many low lying coastal towns in the area, and it is usually not within the financial ability for these small towns to build new storm water systems, which — under the ever changing guidelines imposed by the NC Division of Environmental Management — would be cost prohibitive.
Bay River MSD realized that the chances of frequent flooding would continue to be a problem in the Oriental area. After Hurricane Irene, we started to isolate the worst problem areas and began to engineer solutions that might greatly reduce the sewer spills caused be excessive storm water. Although it has taken a few years to get the proper permits and funding to rehabilitate and upgrade the Oriental sewer system, so that it will not be so susceptible to flooding, this goal has finally been accomplished.
Bay River MSD is presently working on a $1.2 million upgrade on the sewer system in Oriental that will include the elevation of two lift stations by over four feet as well as replacing and increasing the elevation of over 70 manholes susceptible to flooding during heavy rains. Although it may be impractical to raise the town, we can raise areas of the sewer system to keep storm water from coming in. This construction has begun and Phase 1 of the two Phase project should be completed in the next few months. Phase II should start soon after and these repairs should be completed in early 2016. Both phases were funded by the Division of Environmental Management. The agency made a grant of 50 percent, while lending the balance to Bay River MSD for 20 years at 0 percent interest. This allowed Bay River to make these improvements with little or no expense to our customers. After both Phases are complete we hope these types of spills will be greatly reduced.