Holden Beach has first commissioners meeting in new town hall

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

The 54 people who attended the first Holden Beach commissioners meeting in the new town hall Tuesday night heard architect Jim Stewart report the building is finished except for placing a few signs and the dedication plaque, which weighs 40 pounds.

Commissioner Gary Staley asked if construction came in at the $3.2 million originally budgeted, and Stewart said he hasn’t completed the final bill but that it’s “pretty much on budget.”

The architect said he hoped all Holden Beach property owners are proud of the building.

The police department is also in town hall, on the left side of the building.

Police chief Wally Layne said, “We are absolutely loving the new facility.”

Pointing out it’s nothing like the other police headquarters in his six years as Holden Beach police chief, Layne said, “It’s not been a tough transition.”

Town staff and police officers moved into the facility in early April.

Commissioner Ken Keyser said there’s an emergency call button on the outside of the building, at the end of the ramp to the police department.

Layne said, “Should you need us after hours, you can call us at 842-6707 (which will go directly to the officers on duty even if they’re in their patrol cars), call 911, or push the red, emergency call button.”

Mayor Alan Holden asked the audience to give a hand to all the people who worked on the new town hall and made it happen.

Beach renourishment

The current beach renourishment is more than halfway complete, reported Fran Way of Applied Technology and Management.

“Hopefully, we’ll finish the East reach this week, and then we’ll begin on the West reach,” he said.

Two-thirds of the sand is going to the East reach.

Way said he knew all the sand trucks hauling sand onto the beach in recent weeks have been an inconvenience but noted, “We are constrained to putting sand on the beach in a winter environment. We were limited to a tight window.”

He said all the permits were in place in March. The town received seven bids.

“The lowest bidder did not have enough compatible sand volume, and the second-lowest bidder had an insufficient borrow area,” Way said. “So Wayne’s Backhoe was the lowest qualified bidder.”

Way said Holden Beach has been active in beach renourishment, putting 1 million cubic yards of sand on the beach since 2001.

In other news Tuesday night, commissioners:

•Approved the Blockade Runner paving project, with an estimated $108,000 split between Powell Bill funds and assessments.

•Approved paying about $7,500 from BPart funds for concerts this summer as requested by Barbara Lowell of the Greater Holden Beach Merchants Association. Because of this calendar year, there will be 16 concerts instead of 15, she said. The concerts are already lined up.

•Approved letting Ken Weston sell popcorn at island festivals and concerts this year with the money earmarked for beautification of the stage area at the new Holden Beach Pavilion. The money will be turned over to the Public Area Improvement Committee.

•Heard town manager David Hewett report the canal dredging is finished except for the final survey in Heritage Harbor’s three canals. He doesn’t anticipate any problems there.

•Approved a resolution against Senate Bill 1004 and House Bill 1252.

“This makes it hard for small town like Holden Beach” to offer broadband services, Holden said. “We would like to offer service on Holden Beach in the same range as the big cities.”

Also, Hewett said he would attend a conference in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in May on how to tap into stimulus money for broadband services.

•Approved a standard contract again with Martin Starnes and Associates for the 2008-2009 audit year. Mayor Pro Tem Sandy Miller asked if bids were put out to other CPA firms. Hewett said Starnes and Associates worked diligently with the town as it recently converted to its new financial software, and the company offered the same price as last year. He said he would definitely like to use the same company for at least one more year.

•Approved writing a letter to legislators endorsing terminal groins.

“Ocean Isle Beach is very aggressive in the pursuit of terminal groins in Shallotte Inlet,” Holden said. “These terminal groins will allow water to pass over them and capture sand on the back side. We need one here.”

•Heard Holden report that Miller, Sheila Young and he just attended a meeting in Wilmington on the Eastern Channel Project.

“We hope grant monies will make that project happen,” Holden said.

The project would get stagnant water out between Varnamtown and the ocean and also be a source of sand for Holden Beach renourishment. The island could get 90,000 more cubic yards of sand next winter “hopefully at no cost” to island residents, the mayor said.

•Heard Cliff Wagner pitch that the town should buy GIS (geographic information services) from his company. He said they offer hot spot analysis, such as cross-indexing street lights and crime; help save lives with disaster response, such as locating people in a flooded area; and track how much sand is lost off the beach.

•Approved a tax release, reducing one resident’s taxes, who won his appeal, by $610 a year.

•Approved an elder abuse awareness resolution.

•Encouraged citizens to honor the governor’s proclamation of April 18-May 2 as Litter Sweep time in North Carolina.

•Heard Hewett announce Channel 8, the local government’s television channel, should be running again next week. A $25 fan was the culprit in keeping the news off the air, he said.

•Heard Hewett report the little house at the 800 block is public works director Chris Clemmons’ answer to draw cool air into access panels.

•Heard Layne remind drivers the speed limit has changed from 45 mph to 35 mph from the Holden Beach supermarket to the west end of the island, and police will be writing speeding tickets.

•Went into executive session to discuss legal matters involving Joseph vs. the Town of Holden Beach and the EOC building construction.

•Heard Holden announce the Holden Beach Chapel was19 people short of having 1,100 people at last Sunday’s Easter service.