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City Council endorses naming bridge for slain federal agent

By Mark Wineka
mwineka@salisburypost.com
Salisbury City Council gave its unanimous endorsement Tuesday to naming the Interstate 85 bridge over East Innes Street for slain federal agent David Wilhelm.
Mayor Susan Kluttz said the council held great respect for people serving in law enforcement and that it was “very appropriate” for a federal bridge on a federal highway to be named for a lost federal agent who was a Salisbury native.
Councilman Bill Burgin, whose son is a police officer, said parents of law enforcement personnel hold their breath every night in hopes that their children are safe.
But people go into law enforcement because it’s their calling, Burgin added, and naming the bridge for Wilhelm is at least one effort the community can make to say thank you.
It also provides an educational opportunity for years to come, Burgin suggested. When children ask their parents about the name of the bridge, they can explain the value of law enforcement officers and how Wilhelm lost his life in trying “to protect us.”Now Salisbury City Council and the Rowan County Board of Commissioners have each passed resolutions in favor of the Wilhelm name for the bridge.
The resolutions are part of the process followed by the N.C. Department of Transportation, which names bridges on federal and state highways in honor of officers who die in the line of duty.Candee Wilhelm, David’s widow, addressed the council Tuesday as she had Monday at the commissioners’ meeting. Terry Osborne, a former teacher of Wilhelm’s at West Rowan High School, also spoke in favor of the resolution during a public comment period.
David Wilhelm, killed March 11, 2005, was the son of Dwight and Betty Wilhelm of Salisbury. He was a decorated Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent and second in command of the Homeland Security office in Atlanta at the time of his death.
Wilhelm was one of four people killed by gunman Brian Nichols. After Nichols shot and killed a judge, court reporter and sheriff’s deputy in an escape during his rape trial at the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta, he later surprised Wilhelm at a north Atlanta home the agent was renovating.
“We want to remember him and are certainly glad to receive the recommendation from our county government and the DOT,” City Manager David Treme said.
In another matter Tuesday, the council approved a resolution connected to the city’s getting into the fiber-optic cable business.
The resolution authorizes the city to negotiate an installment financing contract.
No one spoke at Tuesday’s public hearing before the resolution was approved.
Management Services Director John Sofley said a request for proposals has gone out for construction of a system that would set up a new city utility for telephone, Internet and cable television service.
The city also has solicited bids for a financing package.
Tuesday’s resolution was a necessary step in filing an application to the Local Government Commission.
The resolution says, among other things, that an installment financing contract is preferable to a bond issue for the same purpose.It also states that if the new cable system ended up generating no revenue, a 9.86-cents-per-$100 valuation tax increase would be necessary “to meet the sums that fall under the contract.”

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