I returned to Highlands Sunday night after visiting with family members. We did three days of fishing on the San Juan River in New Mexico. My travels always make me appreciate living in Highlands.
The San Juan is a great trout river and the surrounding landscape is dramatic and beautiful. The people were very warm and welcoming. One of my nephews from LaLa Land asked me if we had trout fishing in Western Carolina. I responded that we have over 3,000 miles of trout streams that are probably the best in the country. I can’t wait for him to visit Highlands and see what this plateau has to offer.
Yes, other regions have great attractions and may be it’s a mayoral exaggeration, but I still believe we have the best place to live and to visit. The big question will be how this community continues to maintain a tremendous quality of life and also welcomes visitors that share a similar interest in quality experiences. I know many Highlands citizens share similar thoughts. Bringing more and more people here for day trips and short-term party events may not be in our long-term best interest.
With the changes in the Highlands Chamber of Commerce and the upcoming election, I suspect this issue will be a topic of intense discussion. The town also needs to move quickly in developing a new comprehensive plan in 2020. I believe the best way to achieve goal is to bring in a professional consulting organization that can guide our planning board through the process.
Tomorrow (Aug. 22), is the August Highlands Town Board meeting at the Highlands Conference Center beginning at 7 p.m.
I am asking the board to support a resolution for cameras on the Gorge Road. These cameras would be radar activated and photograph trucks that willfully disregard warning signs and continue on the Gorge Road. Special, local legislation will be needed for these cameras. The resolution is the initial step.
The architectural agreement for designing the new fire department will also be reviewed. The fire department and town staff are moving this process forward without delay.
The board will hear a report from the Public Works Committee concerning solid waste management, especially as it relates to the bear issues. I anticipate the board approving a plan that will require the use of toters. Residents would have about a year to make this conversion.
The staff will request the transfer of additional town reserve funds to the North Carolina Capital Management Trust Fund. The town carries large reserve balances during the year that could be placed in this fully protected fund. Our town manager and finance director transferred funds from the scholarship and similar funds to this state fund around last January. Since then town has netted about $80,000 in interest. Additional town funds could be placed in the NC Management Trust Fund and earn a return for taxpayers. The good news is the town can withdraw money within a day from this trust fund without penalties.
- Town of Highlands Mayor Pat Taylor