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BAILEY — The town of Bailey once again has a full Board of Commissioners after appointing Ervin Powell to a vacant seat during Monday’s monthly meeting.
Powell has been a longtime meeting attendee. He will be sworn in and begin work next month and replaces former Commissioner Jerry Bissette, who resigned in January after several absences from both standing and special meetings.
Powell will sit in for the remainder of Bissette’s term, which expires in November. It’s unknown whether Powell will run for the seat in this year’s municipal election.
After the board unanimously approved Powell’s appointment, Mayor Thomas Richards assigned him as the streets and trees commissioner and reassigned Commissioner Dwan Finch to head up water and sewer, the post Bissette previously held.
Commissioners approved two nominal rate increases for sewer and recycling.
The sewer rates will increase from $52.15 per 5,000 gallons to $58.15 following a February presentation from the Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments, which said the town would need to increase its current sewer fee rate by $6 per 5,000 gallons in order to be eligible to apply for a $2 million community development grant during the March funding cycle.
The increase would heighten the town’s chances of receiving 100 percent funding, as the state requires the rate to be at least $58 per 5,000 gallons to be considered.
Finch said most sewer customers did not use 5,000 gallons per month and would likely see an increase of $2 to $3.
Following a presentation from Pat Luce of Waste Industries, who said the price to process recycling following a Chinese ban on American recycled material has skyrocketed and caused the industry to operate at a loss, the board approved an increase of $0.37 per household recycling container.
Steven Boraski, Bailey’s new police chief, was sworn in Friday and went straight to work. Boraski addressed the board and residents in attendance, offering praise to Gerald Coggin, who served as interim chief and will remain on the force as a part-time officer, and his vision for the growth and development of the town’s police department including increased officer visibility and quarterly open houses.
Boraski will begin work on a full-time basis beginning March 30.
Reid Thomas of the State Historic Preservation Office gave an overview of the work the agency has done for small towns like Bailey across the state and how it could help not only in the proposed initiative to restore the dilapidated downtown hardware store, but roughly 30 other commercial properties in the area that qualify as historic buildings based on the agency’s “windshield survey.”
“You’ve got a great community with great history, and a lot of effort has been done here so far,” Thomas said.
Thomas promised he would come back at a later date with a full presentation on heritage preservation and a proposal to restore and revitalize Bailey’s downtown.
Casey Strickland, 20, who grew up in Bailey and works in Wilson as a hairstylist, said after Thomas’ remarks that she wants to see the town thrive.
“I’ve watched this town go down. I’ve never seen this town thriving since I’ve been here, able to contribute back to it. If we can get something in here that can allow that to happen, then that’s what needs to happen,” Strickland said. “I don’t want my kids to come here and inherit the thing that I have inherited.”
Strickland said she hoped to one day own a salon in Bailey but was not sure it would be successful in the town’s current state.
Richards said he believes Bailey is moving in the right direction after announcing its selection for the N.C. Downtown Strong Initiative. The program, a part of the N.C. Main Street and the Rural Planning Center, will provide downtown revitalization expertise to 24 incorporated rural communities.
In other business, the board approved a reduction in pay for Coggin from $18 per hour to $14 per hour, and a pay increase for Officer Cane to $14 per hour.
The board also appointed Lisa Matthews and Tyler Brock as alternates to the town planning board. Matthews will serve as the Bailey resident alternate and Brock as the extraterritorial jurisdiction alternate.