DOBSON — Last night, Gary York, a prominent local businessman and former county commissioner, appeared before the Dobson town board to ask for a spirit of cooperation in a stalled water agreement between the town and the city of Mount Airy.
York spoke to the Mount Airy board on Aug. 3 for the second time in two months in an attempt to be a peacemaker between the two Surry municipalities.
The water dispute between the localities is over 300,000 gallons of water the town said in 2008 it would begin purchasing from Mount Airy when a water line connecting the two municipalities was complete. That line is within 25 feet of completion, and Mount Airy has budgeted the expected $298,000 in revenue in the present fiscal year, but Dobson has indicated it now has no plans to begin buying the water.
Earlier this year, Dobson officials stated they would purchase 50,000 gallons of water a day, even though they have said they really don’t need the water. However, that offer is off the table now as well.
Earlier this month, the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 to seek legal counsel and “investigate litigation” against Dobson for allegedly violating a contract for the water sales that were to begin on July 1.
York said he had been involved in county water projects since 1998 and wants to see the two municipalities try to work together to further economic development.
“I think water will be the driving force of economic development in the county and also for emergency needs for (water) back-up if something should happen. I ran for county commissioner in 1998 thinking I could pull people together. It’s a hard thing to do. When I heard of this project happening — connecting water in Dobson to Mount Airy, to me, is the most positive moment in the history of this county, because it’s never happened before. Everyone chose not to work together. But now the opportunity is here, I’m here as an encourager if you will,” said York.
York asked Mayor Ricky Draughn how far they are from having the line completed. Draughn said the line is about 30 to 40 feet from being connected.
“It’s time to come together to do the most important thing, for me, that’s ever happened in Surry County,” said York. “I don’t think there is anybody as excited about this or more passionate about it as I am for what this can mean for the future of this county.”
“When will you do something?” asked York.
Draughn answered by saying, “We are still working on it and it’s such a big — we are just talking about a whole lot of issues and a whole lot of money here.”
“I encourage you to do this. Never talk about it as an if, talk about it as when,” said York.
Draughn said the board is working on it.
In other business the board:
n Heard from Todd Tucker, president of the Surry County Economic Development Partnership, about the progress he has seen over his first year with the partnership.
n Heard from Adam Kiker, engineer with Hobbs, Upchurch & Associates, P.A. who presented a preliminary engineering report on improvements to the town’s water treatment plant.
Kiker said he developed a comprehensive list of 20 items that were assigned a cost and an importance to replacing those parts. He said items considered critical to the operation of the plant would cost $750,000, over the short term, over the next five to 10 years.
The board agreed to allow Hobbs, Upchurch & Associates to try to find funding sources to replace the parts needed at the plant.
n The board voted to make a budget amendment to the fiscal year 2009-10 budget for $2,000 transfer of funds from administration to the police department.
n Interim Town Manager Paul Hensch informed the board that grant money in the amount of $16,000 was received for the use of the fire department to buy air packs.
n The board voted to table discussion on an ethics policy required by the N.C. General Assembly until the board’s September meeting. Hensch presented the board with a copy of an ethics policy copied from the town of Kernersville. The board agreed it needed more time to look over the policy.
n The board agreed to accept a proposal from Withers & Ravenel, which came in with the lowest bid on a park, recreation, greenway and open space master plan for $12,450. Hensch said the town had already received a grant for $10,000 to help pay to hire the firm.