Potholes plague town, say Bayboro residents

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Vanessa Cole and her husband Joseph

David Roberson

BAYBORO – An irate crowd of approximately 35 citizens packed the Town Hall Tuesday night. Vanessa Cole, her husband Joseph, and David Roberson, each of whom are town residents, led the discussion, which was directed at Mayor Keith Cowell, and town council members J.E. Hardison, Kelvin Credle, Roosevelt Stokes, and Vennie Himbry.

“The town’s drainage, ditches, and roadways are our concern,” said Vanessa, “and where do we go from here? We have pictures and I also have video.”

Roberson and others lamented that recent asphalt patches are far from adequate solutions for Bayboro’s decaying infrastructure – still reeling from Hurricane Florence in September 2018.


“This is not going to last but about a month,” pleaded Vanessa, as she held up a photo of a patch job.

Roberson, who lives at 209 Fourth Street, said his street is the same one used for heavy fire trucks of the busy Triangle Volunteer Fire Department.

“Everywhere heavy trucks like that end up parking, there is going to be a pothole,” said Roberson. Again referring to photos, Roberson added “You can see where the potholes are,” he explained, “and they are already giving way. When we got the FEMA money, where did it go?”

The Coles were adamant that elected officials must do a better job of addressing town needs.

“I wish I would know when the last time it was paved,” said Vanessa, referring to Elm Street where she has a home. “We’re failing our people,” she added, “some of our streets are trash dumps. That’s why we are coming together in 2020 to make things better.”

Cowell, the town’s veteran mayor, acknowledged the problem, but responded that town finances – and state monies known as Powell Bill funds – are inadequate to bring every city-maintained street up to an expected standard.

“What it costs to do (pave) one street is immense,” said Cowell.

Town clerk Joan Leary, who handles most of the town finances, added: “We get about $15,000 twice a year in Powell Bill money – that’s about $30,000 annually, but one street to pave is $75,000 or better.”

Councilman J.E. Hardison pointed out that Bayboro, as the county seat of Bayboro, is home to a preponderance of government-owned property and buildings that pay zero ad valorem taxes.

“We’ve got the Courthouse, the school, the prison, and the county administration building – none of them pay taxes – but our streets are supposed to accommodate everybody who comes into town,” said Hardison.

Cowell also explained that some of the town’s most heavily traveled streets are built, maintained, and owned by the state of North Carolina. “For those,” he said, “you will need to talk to our local representatives on the Board of Transportation, and to our state legislators – Sen. Norman Sanderson and others. The more they hear from y’all, the more they will do for you.”

Politely but firmly, Cole, her husband Joseph, and others pledged to continue their efforts.

“This is not an attack,” she said. “It is a plea for help. We want to get the ball rolling and push to improve our neighborhoods. I just feel like our community has been left out.”

Later, after most of the crowd had departed, Councilman Kelvin Credle put the town’s plight in perspective.

“A lot of our streets that our citizens are talking about haven’t gotten any attention for years and years,”
he said.