This past Friday was the last Community Coffee with the Mayor for this year. I can’t thank the Hudson Library enough for hosting these monthly sessions from March through October. I also want to thank all the nonprofit organizations that provided support and refreshments.
They are: the Mountain Retreat and Learning Center, The Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust, the Highlands Biological Station Foundation, the Highlands Historical Society, the Highlands Plateau Audubon Society, the Highlands Literacy Council, the Hudson Library Board of Directors, and the International Friendship Center and Food Pantry.
About 60 people were at this last coffee to learn about the Highlands Fiber Optic Network that is now under construction. I want to thank Matt Shuler, the town GIS and Internet Communications Director and his Altitude staff for putting on a great program.
I suspect we will have Matt, along with representatives from Wide Open Networks, back at a coffee in the spring to update us about the network. Once the network is completed around April, a phased operational effort will begin and continue through the summer.
After developing coffee programs for six years, I can already predict some of the major topics for 2020.
High on the list will be budget priorities. One big budget item will be road paving, so let me state where we are as the year comes to an end. Two projects that will be done in the spring are already funded. Satulah Road will be paved up to where it becomes a private road. That paving is the last phase of the Satulah water tank project. The other paving project will be Split Rail Row. That paving is the last phase of the waterline project on Split Rail. Both the water tank and the waterline are now operational.
People have asked me why the recent paving on Cullasaja Drive was stopped halfway? My response is that we had other pressing paving needs like Hickory Hill and Oak Lane. The worse part of Cullasaja was paved this year for about $250,000. The lower half is the top paving priority for next year.
We will also probably have a coffee next year on healthcare access. The issue of critical care and retention of physicians continues even after the sale of Mission to HCA. On a related topic, I anticipate having a program concerning our emergency respond capabilities. By spring the new fire station should be underway. There will be related issues concerning ambulance service and staffing.
If anyone has a topic for a community coffee, please let me know. I see these sessions as town meetings where ideas and issues can be addressed.
Please remember to vote before, or on Tuesday, November 5. My friends at the polls estimate there will be a turnout of about a third of the registered voters. I hope they are wrong and my prediction of at least 50% is realized. If you are registered but don’t vote, keep that in mind when you become concerned about a problem in town.
- Town of Highlands Mayor Pat Taylor