Waynesville watershed logging works well
Waynesville's decision to implement selective timbering at the town's watershed is working well, Town Manager Marcy Onieal told Mayor Gavin Brown and town aldermen at Tuesday night's regular governing board meeting.
"This has to do with water supply improvements more than anything else. It has nothing to do with logging," she said.
Haywood is unique in that no water flows into the county. It is the headwaters, and historically Waynesville has been visionary about protecting its most valuable resource. As Brown reminded folks at a recent meeting, "Most of the members of the town board that purchased the watershed decades ago were voted out of office at the next election, but their courage positioned us to have good water for future generations."
In other reports to the board, Onieal announced the hiring of the new town clerk. Amie Owens will take over from long-time clerk Phyllis Rogers who retired several months ago. Rogers has been filling in part-time. Owens comes up the street from the Haywood County Courthouse, where she worked for County Manager Marty Stamey and served as deputy clerk to the board of commissioners. Owens is a state-certified clerk and will soon complete work toward a master's degree in Public Administration at Western Carolina University. Her first day on the job at Town Hall will be Feb. 23.
Restructuring in the Public Works Department include current Public Works Director Fred Baker taking over as utilities director. Assistant Public Works Director Robert Hyatt is close to retirement age and has indicated that he may retire at that time, so Onieal has hired a new public works director who is currently on the staff of the city of Asheville. .
"We won't be hiring an assistant town manager right now, so we'll be saving that money for awhile," said Onieal. Former assistant town manager Alison Melnikova recently resigned to become town manager at Laurel Park in Henderson County.
Onieal said that the N.C. Department of Transportation Howell Mill Road project is finally ready to start.
"You can look for work to begin next week," she said.
NCDOT took a portion of town property on Howell Mill Road for that expansion. In return NCDOT has arranged with a private property owner to deed to Waynesville a 50-foot swath along Richland Creek near Dutch Fisher Park in the Hazelwood community.
"We hope this will be an anchor section to the planned pathway through town to Lake Junaluska," she said.
Waynesville's IT Support move to the cloud is on target. When the change is made, Onieal said the transfer from Meridian to VC3 will be quick.
"One day we'll be on Meridian, the next day we'll be on VC3," she said. Onieal commended current IT vendor Meridian for its professionalism in making the transfer as seamless as possible. "Meridian is even lending us equipment to tide us over so we don't have to buy something we won't need after the transition," she said.
Mayor Gavin Brown who serves on the county's economic development commission, gave a brief report on continuing dialogue between the Chamber of Commerce and EDC about merging those two entities. The idea is being facilitated by Southwestern Region A, WNC's council of government servicing all counties west of Buncombe.
Brown told the board about the county's resolve to do something with the old hospital building.
They're ready to move on it, and want to see at least the front part preserved in some way. Nobody wants it torn down," the mayor said. The board of education occupies the front portion now. The old Haywood County hospital anchors the east end of town and was the first county hospital in North Carolina.
Waynesville's mayor and board of aldermen have set Feb. 21 as a tentative date for a retreat to begin planning for the 2014-2015 budget.