JECDB hears good news

Friday, August 17, 2012

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

Chapel Hill will have its own library soon.

This news was part of Town Administrator Mike Hatten's report to the Joint Economic and Community Development Board meeting Tuesday.

"The community's going to do it on its own," Hatten said. "We tried doing it through the county commission, but it didn't happen."

"Will you have the library and a museum in the same building?" asked Dave Kennedy, JECDB chairman.

"We have the Senior Citizens, the Community Center, and the library in one building," Hatten answered. "A museum would be a good addition, but we're running out of space."

He reported the Community Center is rented out quite often at $150 a time and, in fact, rentals brought in five or six thousand dollars last year.

"We never thought of it being a revenue source," Hatten exclaimed.

"We're solid," said Chapel Hill Mayor Carl Cooper, adding to the report. "Mike Hatten does a great job. We're helping people who can't help themselves and we're not increasing any taxes."

The JECDB's September meeting will be a lunch in Chapel Hill, so members can admire that town's progress at first hand.

One of the small towns reporting to the JECDB doesn't even have a functioning community center. In his report, Alderman Corey Smith noted Petersburg is the only Lincoln County town without such a center.

"We're behind everybody else," Smith admitted, but "we're seeing a lot of progress," especially in improving the town's appearance. The post office building has been painted inside and out, including a mural of a Pony Express rider on the outside wall. This was done by a jail trustee from Lincoln County, and Smith said getting the trustees to do the painting saved the town about $15,000. The next project is a new roof for the city fire hall.

Petersburg "has finally caught up to the 20th century," Smith said, explaining that the control for filling the reservoir has been automated, and the board has voted to purchase some radio-read water meters to save time and effort for the meter reader.

Smith himself is firmly established in the 21st century, and the group was shown his YouTube video on core aeration that promotes his business, The Yard Boy.

"That's a good example," said JECDB executive director Mike Wiles. "We could do that on the tourism level."

Cornersville Mayor Amos Davis reported his town is also making progress.

"It's beginning to pick up," Davis said of the economy, noting, "Revenue has been a little stronger." This has allowed the town to pave some streets, re-pave several others, and begin work on an addition to the fire hall that will house city vehicles and equipment.

Eric Michael, president of the Chamber of Commerce, also reported to the JECDB.

"Our finances are in better shape," Michael said. "But they're far from where we need them to be."

He said the Chamber was looking at reorganizing its board structure, and was also trying to start an ambassador program for volunteers to help at events and at the Chamber office.

"The Chamber's not where we want it to be," agreed Kennedy. "Let's get a stronger Chamber."

To round out the hopeful tone of the meeting, Wiles reported Marshall County sales tax collections for the last two months surpassed the monthly average for the best year on record (2007-2008).