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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of February 3, 2009

This newsletter is about the Hickory City Council meeting that I attended this past week. City council meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of each Month in the Council Chambers of the Julian Whitener building.

At the bottom right of this page under main information links is a Hickory's Local Government link. If you click on that link, it takes you to our city’s website, at the bottom of the page you will see the future dates for meetings scheduled for this year.

At the top of the page, if you click on the “Documents” link, you will find historic Agenda and Minutes links. Agendas show what is on the docket for the meeting of that date. The Minutes is an actual summary of the proceedings of the meeting of that date.

Here is a summary of the agenda of the 2/3/2009 meeting. There were a couple of important items that were discussed at this meeting and the details are listed further below.

Invocation by Rev. Pat Pearce, Retired from First Baptist Church

Several Boy Scout groups attended tonights meeting from the Church of God, St. Aloyisius, St. Lukes, Church of Ascension. The Hound is happy to see this kind of participation and believes that the city is served well when youth are brought into the fold at a young age. The future of our city may well have been in attendance tonight. I only wish that we would see this along with other civic organizations more often. Maybe the city should promote this idea?

Consent Agenda:
A. Call for Special Meeting – Council-Staff Planning Meeting to be Held at the Catholic Conference Center on 2/24/ 2009 and 2/25/2009 at 3pm

B. Call for Public Hearing – Voluntary Contiguous Annexation of the Property of amp Creek Home Builders Located at 1938 Wallace Dairy Road and Two Vacant Tracts to the East (Authorize Public Hearing for 2/17/2009)

C. Approve Future Annexation Agreement From Roman & Victoria Procop for Property Located in Hickory Woods at 2615 36th Avenue Court, NE - requested to be connected to the City of Hickory’s water and sewer system without being annexed into the City limits and agree to be annexed in the future when the City finds it economically feasible.

D. Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 12 - To budget $6,579 of Parks and Recreation Department donations in the Parks and Recreation Special Events and Supplies line items - Donations are for the annual Easter Egg Hunt and for Track and Field supplies. To budget an $18,265 donation to the Patrick Beaver Memorial Library from the Lyerly Foundation Trust to help pay for the second self-check system, library brochures, senior outreach audio visual materials and replacement of dvd/cd security cases.

To transfer a total of $21,000 of Contingency
. $18,000 is needed for the purchase and installation of new T-8 lighting throughout the Public Services facility. $3,000 is needed for a 2-year extended roofing warranty package for the main offices and shop areas rooflines at the Public Services facility. Transfer $880 from the Engineering Department to the Stormwater Fund - provides the balance of funds needed to pay Jewell Engineering Consultants ($1,985.71).

E. Grant Project Ordinance Amendment No. 6 - To decrease the Federal revenue-2008 Entitlement Block Grant by $19 and decrease the Community Development housing rehab expenditure line item by $19. The $19 decrease in revenues and expenditures will bring the City’s computer system software back in line with the Housing and Urban Development IDIS grant software.

New Business - Public Hearings:
Resolution and Order for Petition Filed by Attorney Steve Austin on Behalf of Timothy D. and Teresa P. Lail to Close a Portion of Riverside Drive Extension That Intersects With Lakeshore Lane - On 12/4/2008, a representative submitted a petition to close a portion of Riverside Drive Extension that intersects with Lakeshore Lane. This portion of right-of-way is no longer necessary for public use and appears that its closing is not contrary to public interest. It is recommended that the City retain a 25’ easement for any existing water and sewer utilities. Chuck Hansen addressed this issue. He stated that they property is outside of the city limits, but inside of the city's ETJ (Extended Territorial Jurisdiction). Unanimously Approved

New Business - Departmental Reports: Assistant to the City Manager Mike Bennett addressed the council in 5 specific areas and some comments on each.

1) Economic Growth and Transportation
- Operation No Vacancy is an initiative set up to encourage entities to use vacant buildings. 2 Brownfield Grants that have been awarded to the city are under the review of a advisory group that is looking at 8 priority sites including the old Piedmont Wagon Building. Mr. Bennett addressed development at Fairgrove Business Park. He also addressed the redeveloped website. As far as transportation he addressed McDonald Parkway and 13th ave SE. He also addressed the issues involving the Clement Blvd project.

2) Natural Environment and Quality of Life - Striving to protect the quality and environment of Lake Hickory through the NorthEast Wastewater and Sewer project along with the Cripple Creek project. Code Enforcement fully moved to the Police Department and the staff has received full training on policies and procedures.

3) Operational Excellence - continue to reengineer service delivery, such as with radio meter readers to check water usage. Will cut down on labor hours. The city is also using compressed natural gas vehicles for some transportation needs, such as with the meter readers.

4) Vision and Leadership - 22 member Catawba River Coalition based on the interbasin water transfer and application issue.

5)Communication and Marketing - The new interactive website has received good reviews and cut down on phone calls to the city. City uses website, along with City Snippets, and Communication releases to broaden its communication with the Public. Working on an update of the city services guide. Over 3,000 hits to the new website, which constitutes over 30% more usage of the website.

Council Questions: Ms. Hoyle asked about the decreased calls and Mr. Bennett said he believed that it could possibly be due to the Frequently Asked Questions section of the website. Mrs. Fox asked about colored brochures that have been released that discuss successes of the Hickory development. The Mayor asked about burying of lines. Chuck Hanson addressed what lines were feasible to bury and which were not. (Paraphrasing) He said the Embarq lines are feasible, but the Duke power lines are not at this time.

The Hound Knew
that this was going to be a mundane meeting going in, but it still had some interesting points in this presentation. I believe that this interactive website will be vital to Hickory's development moving forward into the city's future.

We have to get this city moving towards a younger demographic. That doesn't mean that we are going to set the codgers out to graze in the pastures, but we cannot afford to let them hold us back. The future is ours and we will either grab ahold of it or we will see the risk averse older generation run over us and run this community into the ground. They could make it impossible to modernize this city, if we aren't more aggressive about demanding modernization.

Look at this website and all that it can do to make government more accessible, streamlined, efficient, and cost effective. Times change and we must embrace it. We cannot yield to those who are afraid of that change. We cannot run this city by the least common denominator. We must lift people up, not pull people down.


Anon2 said...

Hickory will remain, at best, as it is, until the citizens themselves become actively involved not just in the governmental process but in the "neighborly" process that makes a community. More attendance by the public...the everyday needed at the city council meetings, school board meetings, any city related meetings for that matter that are open to public attendance. You don't have to be a board member...just be an interested citizen. You don't even have to speak unless you do have something to share...your presence does speak. If you want to be really involved, there are boards and committees made up of citizens who work to guide everything from development to the library, to public services, to recreation, and if they do not hear from people outside their immediate presence, they can only do what they think is best. The city of Hickory has many citizen-guided committees - all you have to do is apply for a position on one. From what I've seen the same 8 to 10 people are rotated through terms on these boards (kind of like church!). Fresh faces with new thoughts are needed in EVERY area. Your blog is appreciated...your attendance is appreciated at the council meetings. I know you've attended the recent park planning meetings. Do you go alone (and this isn't really directed straight at you hound)? Invite a friend, neighbor, adversary to go with you. Do you meet friends there? Ask each friend you meet to bring a friend. Sure we need better government. We need fresh ideas. We need jobs. We need to work on the negatives, but we also need to find the positives and build them up stronger. We need to buck up and stop saying "I've worked all day, I don't wanna go to any meetings." Utilize the city's suggestion avenues if you have an idea, even if you think it's a small one. All of the council members, city staff, etc have email...let them know what you're thinking. Looking for light minded tv this weekend I came across the end of Legally Blonde 2. In the end Reese Witherspoon, as Elle Woods, gives a speech that has people wondering where she's headed...she's talking about how she managed to get a highly coveted appointment at a certain prestigious hair salon and then proceeded to sit by and watch as they basically destroyed her hair, doing things she knew to be wrong but remaining silent. Her point being of course that you cannot just sit silent while something you know isn't right is being done right in front of you. Blogging is a start, reading another's blog is a start...but in the end people have to get personally, really, in the flesh involved. Again, we have to fix the negatives, but also find the positives and build on them. We need to redefine "community" and remember that our community is not just the people who live in our subdivided neighborhood. And yes, all of this applies to me also!

James Thomas Shell said...

Anon2, That is an awesome post!!!

Yes, I talk to people all of the time and ask them to participate. I actually have people that think negatively of what I am doing. They assume that I am just trying to be an anarchist. I can assure you that I am not.

People always ask me about the issues and sometimes I can be a little profane in my passion for the subjects. Sometimes it blows those people out of the water, but don't ask me if you don't want to hear what I believe to be the truth.

I have convictions and I believe in what I believe in. I look into whatever is on my mind and try to resolve the issues to logical conclusion. I tell people not to take what I say as the gospel. Go do some research yourself. I'll point you in the right direction and/or answer your questions to the best of my ability and I won't give you Cliff Clavin answers.

I do this because I love this city. I don't understand why people aren't more involved, especially during these times. I ask people to become involved and some say they will, but when it comes time for the rubber to meet the road, they fail to take that first step.

I think that much of the ambivalence is due to this rat race system of consumption and debt that has people so far in debt that they are frazzled trying to make ends meet, so they don't want something else to worry about. I also think some of it has to do with drug and alcohol abuse and the lack of priorities that those vices place upon people's lives. People just want to get home from work to get that drink or smoke that joint. The highest priority of most of the young people in this community is where they are going out to party tonight. There is no striving towards higher ideals and our society is suffering the consequences.

To me, the ones of us that do participate have a higher obligation to act in the best interests of the community as a whole. We should not pigeon-hole every issue to represent our own personal interests. We should do what is best for the vitality, growth, and future of this community. If we aren't representing those three things, then we aren't helping, we are hindering this community.

Anon2 said...

I suspect a lot of people are like me. I have to MAKE myself go to these things when I do go. I get up at 5:45am, shower, get kids up and off to school, me to work, kids to various activities nearly every night of the week and dangit on Tuesdays I KNOW such and such committee meets, but that's my ONLY night to just go home and do nothing. I read the news, I read blogs, I roll my eyes and say "WHY are they doing that?"....and then I yell out "is everyone's homework finished? anybody have anything needing signing?" We often forget that participation can take other forms. There just is no easy answer and no answer that involves little to no participation. You were right when you said "To me, the ones of us that do participate have a higher obligation to act in the best interests of the community as a whole. We should not pigeon-hole every issue to represent our own personal interests. We should do what is best for the vitality, growth, and future of this community. If we aren't representing those three things, then we aren't helping, we are hindering this community." The thing is, this takes us right back to the 'church mindset' know...the same members show up year after year for "spring cleaning day", "Christmas decoration day", "Bible school preparation"...then others in the congregation sit around and grumble about how they'd do things differently. Then there are the ones who would like to help too, but they don't because they figure the ones who are always there will view them as intruders. Wouldn't an easy answer be nice? I also dare to think that some of the folks who view your thoughts and ideas with a scowl do so simply because you remind them they aren't as involved as they should be.

ant. a. said...

I'm with you anon2. I want to go to these meeting but cannot seem to get there. But you're both right. It's too important to neglect or to keep to oneself. My newest New Years' Resolution is to start attending the City Council meetings with the hound and tell all my friends to get there to. Let's hope it goes better than losing twenty pounds.

James Thomas Shell said...

You losing 20 pounds. That would be like a helium balloon. You would be lighter than air - bwahahahaha!!! And I hope you will come to some meetings with Harry and I. Next one is Feb 17.