Stallings 2011 In Review

Union County Pulse

I’ve made it a practice throughout my term to highlight significant decisions made by council each year with an end of year review. Headline news events for Stallings in 2011 included becoming debt free, park improvements, approval for the start of Monroe Parkway and Chief  Michael Dummett’s accomplishments with police services. Council agreed to pay off the mortgage on town hall in the amount of $793,653, saving approximately $107,000 in future interest payments. Phase I park improvements were completed just before Christmas and a test run of the splash pad brought a number of excited park supporters out to see it work. A new band shell, arbors, picnic shelters and bathroom facilities were also added. Bids for the Phase 2 improvements are currently under way and council may consider accelerating the schedule for completion of Phase 2 in 2012.

A lawsuit brought by three environmental groups delayed the sale of the bonds and the start of construction on the Monroe Bypass. However, after the judge’s decision in November, the turnpike authority is moving full steam ahead. Right of way acquisition is in process and construction is expected to start in late spring.

Michael Dummett completed his first year as police chief for Stallings. The chief has an MBA as well as a BA degree in criminal justice and wasted no time putting new CALEA standards (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies) in place, developing a town wide community policing model, eliminating Tasers to reduce the town’s liability, as well as implementing a number of cost-saving measures in the department. He has improved the rate of solving crime from 8 to 9 percent to 54.9 percent, well above the national average of 30 percent. Perhaps most importantly, he has established a culture of accountability, responsiveness, and transparency that has been embraced by the Stallings community.

The Citizen Survey, a first for Stallings, was mailed to every home to allow confidential input from residents. The return rate of 22.7 percent was exceptional and a reassuring indicator that our citizens are engaged and interested in town business. Citizens ranked street/intersection improvements, economic development, and sports/pool facilities as top priorities and offered candid feedback on a number of issues that will give council guidance as we plan for the future. We also negotiated a new garbage contract with GBUSA to include bi-weekly yard waste and broader recycling at a significantly lower cost than the previous service. The town played a critical role in the closure of the biomedical waste incinerator on our border by lobbying for early implementation of new EPA limits on harmful air pollutants. The EPA Superfund cleanup of National Petroleum on Gribble Road, an abandoned antifreeze recycling plant, was another environmental success completed last February.

While there were many accomplishments in 2011, discussions about a possible sports facility, a final plan for the Stallings Road Streetscape and Downtown Master Plan, adoption of the Capital Improvement Plan and the Unified Development Ordinance will carry over into 2012. The CIP and the UDO are nearly complete, but we will continue to work with Union County on infrastructure improvements and with NC Department of Transportation on the road improvements necessary to move the streetscape and master plan forward. Council welcomed two new members after the fall election, Shawna Steele and Fred Weber, to replace retiring members Renee Hartis and Thelma Privette. Council will hold its annual planning conference Feb. 17 and 18 to formulate the goals and plan for the next year and beyond.

I look forward to additional opportunities to serve in 2012 and appreciate your continued support as we work together to build a better Stallings.

Lynda Paxton

Mayor of Stallings

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