Local officials gathered in King on Thursday, July 19, to dine and share updates about projects in their communities. A joint communications upgrade and new businesses were among the topics discussed.
This time King was in charge of the quarterly meeting, which took place at the community building at Recreation Acres. King, Walnut Cove, and county government officials gathered at 6:30 p.m. to eat a meal before discussing various events and projects taking place around the county.
Ernest Lankford, chairman of the Stokes County Board of Commissioners, was first to deliver updates during the meeting. He said the county is hard at work planning for an upgrade of communications equipment to narrow-banding radios, a requirement which is federally mandated but not funded. The county has estimated the upgrade will cost around $2 million, and municipalities will pay the county back for radio purchases.
King Mayor Jack Warren asked if the radios have been ordered yet, and how long it would take once they were ordered. County Manager Rick Morris said the orders have not been placed yet, but once placed it will not take long for the radios to arrive. Emergency service agencies must come in compliance with the new requirements by the first of the year or their equipment will be obsolete and they will face penalties.
The county commissioners voted earlier this month to select Motorola as the company to purchase radios from. Morris said the county may have to choose a more expensive model than the one he originally proposed, but the corresponding mobile units may cost a little less, which could balance things out.
Other county updates:
• Lankford also informed officials that the upgrade to the Danbury water and sewer system would take place over the next few weeks. The upgrade, approved several months ago, will include various system improvements and a new water tank. Water pipes will be cleaned in August using a fairly new system where crushed ice is forced through the pipes to clean them. The ice will then melt away without any further work, Morris explained.
• The county is also currently planning its proposed water and sewer extension to Meadows, the future location for a Forysth Technical Community College campus in Stokes. The county has enlisted the help of Pilot View RC&D to search for grand funding for the multi-million dollar project. Lankford said the project is probably at least a year out.
• Pioneer Health Services plans to hire a few new doctors next year, according to Lankford, and it will install a new CT scanner soon at the hospital. The health company, which took over the hospital in Danbury and facilities in King last year, recently opened a family practice in Walnut Cove. King Council member Dillard Burnette asked when Pioneer planned to open a 24-hour emergency room in King. Lankford said Pioneer has not given the county a date for that, but has noted that it is a “high priority.”
• The county is instituting a centralized collections office on the first floor of the administrative building in Danbury to create a one-stop shop for citizens to pay county-related bills. Property tax bills will go out to public in the next week or so, according to Lankford.
Walnut Cove Mayor Lynn Lewis delivered updates for the town, also noting the successful opening of the health clinic in Walnut Cove. Business activity continues to grow in Walnut Cove. He said a new clothing store has opened up on Main Street, a hair salon has expanded in the former Curves building, and the former Maytag building is now open as an antique shop again.
Other Walnut Cove updates:
• The town is purchasing new computers for its office.
• Initial surveying has been done for a sidewalk extension project in downtown Walnut Cove, and the project will hopefully move forward over the next few months.
• The town’s First to Celebrate the Fourth event was a success, Lewis said, proving to be one of the largest events ever held in the town. It is estimated that more than 2,000 people gathered in town to view the fireworks display on July 3.
Mayor Warren informed everyone that the City of King had received an interest-free loan for its new water plant which would result in significant savings in interest payments. The city has raised water rates over the past few years in anticipation of the project, and Warren hopes the city is mostly through with increases thanks to the loan. Seniors will also begin receiving a discount on their monthly water bills starting this month, Warren noted.
County Commissioner Jimmy Walker asked where the new plant would be built and what would happen to the old one. Warren said the new facility would be built next to the current one, which will stay open until the new facility is completed. It would have taken several million dollars to renovate the current plant, so King decided against it, Warren said.
Other King updates:
• King has seen a small rebound in building projects, with a few permits for homes being issued over the past few months.
• Warren said an investor is doing a feasibility study on the possibility of building upscale apartments in King.
• The city appearance commission is designing a welcome sign for the new interchange in King.
• The popular Town and Country Restaurant re-opened in King last Thursday. Warren said he saw many people stop by the restaurant that day. Tlaquepaque, a Mexican restaurant with chains in Surry County, plans to open a restaurant in King soon.
• Recent city events on Memorial Day and Fourth of July were well attended, Warren noted.
• The Stokes County Agricultural Fair will be held Sept. 10-15 at the American Legion Fairgrounds in King. County Commissioner Leon Inman pointed out that the Stokes Stomp would take place right before that, from Sept. 8-9 in Danbury.
• A shopping night will be held in downtown King on Aug. 4, featuring vendors, open downtown businesses, music, and food.
No one from Danbury was present to give an update at the meeting.