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Spencer aldermen not opposed to toll road

By Steve Huffman
Salisbury Post
SPENCER ó Members of the Spencer Board of Aldermen emphasized Tuesday that they’re not opposed to a toll road if that’s what it takes to get new bridges built over the Yadkin River.
Mayor Jody Everhart raised the issue, saying he’d heard from several people that rumors are being spread that Spencer is opposed a toll road to pay for the Interstate 85 bridge project.
Everhart said the rumors apparently stem from a resolution the board passed in December supporting a “fast track” widening of Interstate 85 and development of land along the highway north of Spencer.
“People have been saying that Spencer doesn’t want a toll road,” Everhart said. “That’s not what the resolution says. I just wanted as mayor to clarify that we’re not against the toll if that’s what it takes to make us safer.
“We need new bridges.”
Several other board members weighed in on the matter and aldermen eventually approved a motion reaffirming their commitment to the “fast-track” widening.
Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Morris said plenty of misinformation was circulating questioning whether Spencer was committed to completing the bridge replacement project.
Morris suggested that groups whose members are opposed to any new road construction might be leading those rumor mills. He said groups opposed to road construction generally work to have the money go instead to mass transit projects.
“If we don’t stake out our position, they’ll continue to spread this misinformation,” Morris said.
Alderman Scott Benfield said the bridges over the Yadkin need to be replaced to handle eight lanes of traffic as quickly as possible.
“It’s only going to get more expensive,” he said.
Alderman Nick Bishop suggested a unique way of funding the new bridges, noting, “If it takes a tin can and asking people to throw dimes out,” that’s what needed to be done.
Alderman Ken Womble, a volunteer with the Miller’s Ferry Fire Department, noted that he and fellow firefighters often respond to emergency calls along the interstate down to the Yadkin River.
“The sooner it’s finished, the more lives we’re going to save,” he said of new bridges.
In other matters handled at Tuesday’s meeting, board members:
– Voted to give $200 to the Rowan County Fire & Rescue Association, whose honor guard participates at funerals and memorial services.
Fire Chief Jay Baker had asked for a $100 donation to the association, but board members voted $200 in honor of Justin Monroe and Victor Isler, local firefighters killed in a blaze last Friday.
Monroek, 19, was a volunteer with the Spencer Fire Department.
“You’ll be real proud of the honor guard in the next few days,” Baker promised, referring to Thursday’s funerals for Monroe and Isler.
Prior to addressing the request for the contribution, Baker spoke to board members about what had taken place at the town’s fire department since last week’s deaths.
Baker said his firefighters were “totally out of service for 24 hours” through Saturday morning, but the department was staffed by volunteers and a truck from the Monroe Fire Department. He noted the significance of the name of the department whose volunteers filled in while the Spencer firefighters were incapacitated.
“These families have been hurt,” Baker said of the loved ones of Monroe and Isler. “We’ve gotten condolences from around the world. It’s a tribute to two fallen heroes that they deserve.”
– Heard from Police Chief Robert Bennett who made his monthly presentation aboard a Segway, a personal transportation device. Bennett rode the Segway into the meeting room, then exited on it.
He said a $3,000 check from SunTrust Bank to help pay for the device was delivered last week.
– Approved a program whereby outstanding students from North Rowan Elementary, Middle and High schools will be honored each month with board recognition.
– Changed from five to four the number of members needed to make for a quorum of the Historic Preservation Commission. The decrease brings the commission in line with other town boards.
– Approved a request from Duke Energy to back a resolution supporting the expansion of the Buck Steam Plant.
– Approved the installation of three monitoring wells near the 100 block of Fourth Street. The wells are part of the N.C. Department of Natural Resources Dry Cleaning Solvent Act.
– Approved making the intersection of Ninth and Rowan streets a four-way stop.
– Approved a resolution asking members of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education to explore ways that North Rowan High School might continue playing in a 2A athletic conference.
The N.C. High School Athletic Association has assigned North Rowan to a distant 1A conference after enrollment at the school has been reduced.
Last week, the NCHSAA ruled against an appeal from supporters of North who were asking that the school be allowed to continue “playing up” in the Central Carolina 2A Conference.
Contact Steve Huffman at 704-797-4222 or shuffman@salisburypost.com.

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