Deena C. Bouknight – Contributing Writer
With a mix of the familiar mirth and seriousness that the Town of Franklin has come to recognize, Bob Scott presided over his last Town Council meeting as mayor. After eight years at the post, he will step down and retire in General Douglas MacArthur fashion, commenting, “like MacArthur, who said, ‘Old soldiers never die, They simply fade away.’” At the close of the Nov. 1 Town Council meeting, the mayor was presented with a service recognition certificate by his “good friend” Jack Horton, vice mayor.
“I’ve never known a finer group of people than those who work for this town. And the media has always been fair and balanced,” said Scott.
Horton, who ran unopposed for mayor in the Nov. 2 Municipal election will assume the duties of mayor at the next council meeting.
Also receiving a service recognition certificate was Council Member Dinah Mashburn as she also vacates her seat on the Town Council. She took over the seat for her husband, Billy, who was appointed in 1992 to fill the unexpired seat of the late Mac Whitaker. Billy Mashburn was first sworn in on Aug. 3, 1992. He then ran for reelection and won in 1993, 1997, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2013, according to his wife.
“He was on the ballot for reelection in 2017 and won that after his passing,” Mashburn explained later. “He passed away on Nov. 1, 2017, prior to election day on Nov. 7, 2017, but won his seat for reelection after his death. At that time, six candidates were running for three seats. He came in third out of the six It became the duty of the Town Council to appoint someone to fill his seat, and I was appointed to fill the vacancy. Billy won a seat for four years, but anytime someone is appointed, their unexpired term comes up again at the next regularly scheduled election. I served two years through the appointment and I ran unopposed at the next town election in 2019.”
Through tears at accepting the service recognition certificate, Dinah Mashburn said, “It has been an honor for me to have served these past four years for the Town of Franklin. I stepped up to serve on behalf of Billy and his dedicated service to the citizens of Franklin. There were times that I voted as he would; there were times I knew he wouldn’t have agreed with my vote, but I always voted with the best interest of the citizens of Franklin and Macon County in mind.”
Mashburn listed her reasons for stepping down as having already fulfilled her obligation to serve and noting that she never intended to make serving in town government as a career.
“There are great people running this time for election,” she added. “Whoever is elected will have the best interests of Franklin in mind and also for Macon County. I combine the town and county because even though the two are separate in their elections, we are all citizens of this great area. I won’t say that I will not run again for public office, but for now I step down with a grateful heart for the time I have been allowed to serve.”
Regarding business issues at the Nov. 1 meeting, Nathanael Moore, director/engineer for Town of Franklin Public Works began the Town Council meeting recognizing two Public Works’ employees, Kyle Pocquette and Bobby Clubb, with a Town of Franklin Water Treatment Plant Award.
Conveyed Moore, “The N.C. Division of Water Resources has honored 64 water treatment plants for surpassing federal and state drinking water standards in 2020. The division’s Public Water Supply Section awarded the facilities the prestigious N.C. Area Wide Optimization Award, which is part of a state effort to enhance the performance of existing surface water treatment facilities. Awards are given each year to water systems that demonstrate outstanding turbidity removal, a key test of drinking water quality. Turbidity is a measure of the cloudiness or haziness of water caused by individual particles that can interfere with disinfection and provide a medium for microbial growth. Microbes are microscopic particles that occur naturally but can include harmful bacteria and viruses. While all drinking water systems must meet strict state and federal drinking water standards, these systems met performance goals that are significantly more stringent than state and federal standards. In 2020, nearly 2.5 million North Carolina residents were served by these award-winning plants.”
Nicole Hairston, Town of Franklin contact with the Division of Water Resources and an Environmental Specialist 2 for Public Water Supply, explained that the awards are part of the Area Wide Optimization Program to recognize “people who work really hard at their jobs.” She said, “When it’s raining really hard outside or there is a hurricane coming this way, they don’t go home. They stay right there at their jobs. The Active Flow System in Franklin helps when we have so much rain, but [Public Works] employees still have to be there – and they don’t usually get recognized, so this award is important. They are important because we all need clean drinking water.”
Justin Setser brought up the rezoning of 2.59 acres on Georgia Road from C2 to C3. No one spoke in opposition during public comment so the motion was passed.
In public session, Franklin resident Wanda Tallent brought to light safety issues on Womack and Tallent streets when residents and delivery personnel attempt to back out of the driveways.
“Womack Street has become a pass-through,” said Tallent, “with people driving too fast coming over the hills. I propose a three-way stop sign where Tallent Street and Womack Street intersect.”
She explained that although there is already one stop sign at this intersection, the three-way stop signs will provide time for traffic to slow and cars to back out of driveways without threat of being hit. Mayor Scott assured Tallent that the matter would be evaluated further and the Department of Transportation would be contacted.
Project Engineer 1 Anders Ike with JE Dunn Construction, the firm responsible for the building of the new hospital, provided an update.
“The hospital is on schedule and we have completed the exterior walls and all the roughing in …” Ike, who is also representing JE Dunn regarding the construction of Franklin’s skate park, updated the town in that regard.
“We have met to further plan for the park and we are establishing the nonprofit to get things set with all the trade partners who will be involved in the project,” he said. “Fundraising will be next and we welcome any groups or individuals who want to stand behind this project. We want to see this come to fruition.”
After Ike spoke, Town Manager Amie Owens presented two design work proposals for the skate park, one priced at $14,995 and another priced at $28,000. She pointed out that since $15,000 is the approximate amount allocated by the Town of Franklin, she suggested a motion to approve the firm, Pillar Design Studios, that proposed the $14,995 design plans. The motion was approved.
Owens also presented to the council her request for a portion of the monies provided to the Town of Franklin through the America Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), established last year due to the pandemic. She informed the council that she would like for Town of Franklin employees to receive bonuses to be paid out of the allotment as a thank you for their hard work and dedication during this past year-plus.
“The total that the Town of Franklin received from ARPA funds is $1.3 million. There are 55 full-time employees and seven regular part-time employees who are eligible for a premium pay allotment. Full-time employees are eligible for 40 hours of vacation time. With the allocation of approximately $73,000, there will be $1.2 million remaining for use with ARPA eligible projects.”
She asked that the funds “be put into effect immediately to show workers and citizens that the Town appreciates them.”
Commented Horton, “It seems a reasonable approach. We need to use some of this money to compensate employees.” He put Owens’ request to a motion and it was approved.
The rest of the ARPA funds will be used for Town infrastructure projects.
Upcoming on the Town’s calendar is the Veteran’s Day parade Thursday, Nov. 11, at 10:30 p.m.; Winter Wonderland, Saturday, Nov. 27, beginning at 5 p.m., with the Christmas Tree lighting at 7 p.m.; and the Christmas parade on Sunday, Nov. 28, at 3 p.m. The next Town Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 6 at 6 p.m.