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Mayor's Report for September 2001

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By Michael Herman

As the summer draws to a close and children are preparing to return to school, the town and its services continue. It has been an unusually busy August for the Town Council as budget matters have dominated many actions to this point. We have resolved most of the pressing financial issues and may now move onto some other long-term projects including redistricting, town center redevelopment, economic expansion, completion of road projects by the fall.

Here are a few highlights from the month:

Public Works Department Modified Schedule

August has been the hottest month this year. As a result, the town has created a flexible schedule policy to accommodate employees at Public Works. On Code Orange or Code Red days, employees will be starting work an hour earlier and leaving by 3:00 p.m. (one hour early), the hottest time of the day. The effective date of the Executive Order was August 8, 2001. I put this Executive Order in place to address heat exhaustion concerns and to protect our valued employees. As a result, our trash trucks will be rolling an hour earlier on Monday and Thursday on high heat index days. Please put trash out to the curb accordingly.

Neighborhood Watch Revisited

A few years ago the town had a thriving neighborhood watch program with active citizen patrols and active coordination with our police department. As with many similar programs nationwide, as crime begins to fall, so does citizen interest in participation. Recent trends nationally have shown a small increase in crime after many years of decline. We are pleased that our Police Department has done well to stem the increased crime in the region. However, certain types of crimes are on the increase, including burglaries and car theft. While these crimes are being solved with arrests in many instances, it is better to prevent them in the first place.

At the police/citizen forum on August 7, it was clear there is a renewed interest in neighborhood watch patrolling. I am eager to see greater participation throughout the town. Not only do you help take a bite out of crime, you also get to know your community and your neighbors, and you also get exercise in the process. All these benefits and it costs you only the time you spend patrolling. As a result, we have scheduled a kick-off meeting to get new participants in the program and welcome more experienced patrol watchers to come back into the program. Please attend the meeting on Thursday, September 20 at 7:00 p.m. at the town hall.

Community Legacy Grant Application/ Town Center Redevelopment

The town has filed an application for a $340,000 grant under the State Community Legacy program. If approved, the money will be used for the town center revitalization and for a short-term staff assistant working on economic development, principally for business attraction in the town center area. On August 6, town administrator Patrick Prangley and I met with state officials to answer any questions concerning the application and to do a visual inspection of the vacant town center properties. Final word on the grant will not come until mid-September at the earliest, but the State was impressed that we have made great efforts to bring this project to fruition in the near future.

In addition, the request from redevelopers for redevelopment plans has been sent to several firms interested in performing the conversion from vacancy to commercial district. We have also advertised in several publications to attract others interested in redeveloping the parcels. Preliminary plans are due in the town office by September 14, 2001. The mayor and council will then assess the various proposals with an eye toward entering into a contract in October.

Long-Term Resident Helen Milburn Passes Away

It is with great sadness that a long-standing resident, Helen Milburn, died on July 24. The Milburn family moved into town in 1939 on the ash-covered street called Ashland Avenue (later renamed Somerset Road). The Milburn children, Helen, Walter and Carolyn attended Riverdale Elementary School when Ms. McCall (later Mrs. Anglin) was principal. Looking at the early photos of this time period, it is hard to recognize the barren Somerset Road that now has lush vegetation after some 60 years of growth. Mr. Milburn passed away in April 2000 at the age of 92. When Mrs. Milburn passed in July, she was 89. During her life Mrs. Milburn worked during World War II at the Riverdale ERCO facility helping in the war effort. She was later a nurse's aide at Leland Memorial Hospital for many years. She was an avid homemaker, gardener, bowler and devoted mother, grandmother and great grandmother, and served as the matriarch to an extensive family. A piece of history passes with her and her late husband. She will be missed.

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