The municipal election early voting is underway at the Highlands Recreation Center. Election Day is Tuesday, November 5. I hope we have a tremendous turnout for this election that will determine the representation for three commissioner positions.
There has been a movement in the NC Legislature to change the municipal elections to even years to coincide with county, state, and national elections. The rationale for this switch has been to counter a record of low voter turnouts for odd year municipal elections. I hope this will not be the case for Highlands this year. We have about 900 voters, and I hope everyone votes.
I want to keep neutral in the races since I am not up for election this year. Nevertheless, I feel the need to respond to one issue that is afloat. People are asking me if town water is acceptable. I respond that it is excellent and is under constant monitoring. Our water plant is a certified NC water laboratory, and our licensed operators test and continually monitor all water produced by the system. The state also monitors our testing by the hour. The state does quarterly tests of town water samples. By law the test results are published in the newspaper.
Tomorrow, is the October town board meeting. I will give a report of a meeting with NCDOT officials who came to Highlands last week to see firsthand several state and town road issues. Since most of our roads in Highlands, as well as across the state, are built, maintained and operated as state roads, NCDOT has to be our partners in almost any road project in town.
I came away from the meeting again realizing state roads and highways pose real challenges in the Western Carolina mountains. Construction costs are higher than in the flatlands. Maintenance on narrow mountain right of ways is constant. Roads in the mountains are dangerous just because of the terrain with steep grades and severe curves.
My report will include information about several ideas and proposed projects. The NCDOT engineers looked at the Arnold Road/US 64 intersection, as well as that complicated intersection on NC 28/South and Satulah Streets. The group also looked at the intersection on US 64 and Little Bear Pen. We went to Big Bear Pen to review the constant erosion problem that the unpaved road poses, as well as several unpaved state roads in town.
I wish I could report tomorrow that all our road issues can be resolved immediately, but that’s not the case. State funding, priorities, and other issues make road initiatives longterm efforts.
Speaking of paving roads, the town road paving projects for this year should be coming to completion this week. Cullasaja Road was paved last week. It required more asphalt applications than initial estimates due to the need to level some severely eroded areas. Our Town Engineer, Lamar Nix, was very pleased with the result and believes the road will be serviceable for many years to come.
See you tomorrow.
- Town of Highlands Mayor Pat Taylor