At the time of this posting I will have just returned from Raleigh where I attended the North Carolina League of Municipalities Legislative Dinner. This event is an opportunity for municipal officials to meet with their legislative representatives and discuss the concerns of town and cities. Our delegation, Senator Jim Davis and Representative Kevin Corbin, always attend these events. Let me share with you some of the concerns I shared with them.
First, both Senator Davis and Representative Corbin are very concerned about the issue of trucks on the Gorge Road. They both have been following the recent accident and ongoing problems. I gave them an update on where the effort to totally prohibit tractor trailer trucks from the Gorge Road stands. They both support a strong state response to address this growing problem.
I also gave them an update on our broadband initiative. I informed them that we anticipate a decision in March from the NC Local Government Commission concerning our request to borrow funds to build the network. While we are currently moving ahead, I encouraged our representatives to support legislation that promotes the development of broadband in rural areas and small towns.
Proposed legislation to privatize the state ABC Alcohol system is once again being discussed in Raleigh. Such legislation would eliminate state ABC stores in favor of privately-owned stores. The state would receive taxes from these stores and local ABC boards would be eliminated. While I support improvements in the current system, I do not want to see it eliminated. Profits from the ABC stores directly benefit nonprofits and local governments. ABC profits go to our Highlands recreation department, the general fund, drug and alcohol treatment programs and several other initiatives. This money stays in the community. I worry that a private system would send tax revenue to Raleigh, and little if any would come back to Highlands. I communicated my concerns to our representatives.
While going to Raleigh was a long trip, the Legislative Dinner was an important event.
Tonight is the February meeting of the Highlands Town Board. It begins at 7 p.m. at the Highlands Community Center.
A major item will be a review of bear resistant street cans. The public works committee and staff have researched containers. At the top of the list is a bear proof container with a small opening for lunch, paper and drink materials. The containers with small openings will prevent residents and some merchants from dumping loaded garbage bags in the street containers. These bear proof containers will be an initial step in addressing garbage disposal and bears.
I also want to invite everyone to the monthly Community Coffee With the Mayor tomorrow, Friday, at 11 a.m. at the Hudson Library. The program will be how Highlands can become a BearWise Community. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission has rolled out a new program for communities to adopt for managing the growing bear interactions.
Hope to see everyone at the board meeting and/or the community coffee.
- Town of Highlands Mayor Pat Taylor