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Granite considers closing rail crossing

By Mark Wineka
mwineka@salisburypost.com
GRANITE QUARRY ó The Board of Aldermen took a first step Monday night toward closing the rail crossing on Lyerly Street ó a move that should lead to safety improvements at the Bank and Depot street crossings.
In another matter, the board chose Mary Ponds to be the town’s mayor for two more years. She has been mayor for the past 10 years.
Town Manager Dan Peters recommended working with the state Rail Division of the N.C. Department of Transportation in closing the Lyerly Street rail crossing.
If the town agrees to the closing, Peters said, the state will provide drop arms and signals for the Depot and Bank street crossings and also assist with right-of-way purchasing in grading Bank Street.
The grade at Bank Street, which is sort of like the hump on a camel’s back, is notorious for causing problems for large trucks and tractor-trailers.
Peters said a tractor-trailer a week gets caught on the rails at that crossing. A better at-grade crossing on Bank Street also would help the Fire Department’s equipment make it across.
“I think it’s good for our town to do it from a safety standpoint,” Peters said.
Aldermen will conduct a public hearing on closing the Lyerly Street crossing at their meeting Feb. 1.
Peters said the improvements at both the Depot and Bank Street crossings probably couldn’t be completed until 2011. A resolution approved by the board Monday night allows the Rail Division to start the process.
District Court Judge Marshall Bickett was on hand Monday night to swear in Alderwoman Eloise Peeler and Alderman Brad Kluttz to new four-year terms after their election victories in November. Peeler and Kluttz were unopposed in the November municipal election.Every two years, the five-member board appoints a mayor and mayor pro tem from among themselves.
Alderman Jake Fisher rocked the boat briefly Monday night when he nominated Bill Feather for the mayor’s position, but his motion failed to draw a second.
Peeler then nominated Ponds for mayor, with a second from Kluttz. The ensuing vote on Ponds’ nomination was a 2-2 tie, with Fisher and Feather voting against it.
As mayor, Ponds votes in case of a tie, and she voted for herself, ensuring another two-year term.
The board voted 3-1 to reappoint Feather as mayor pro tem. The lone vote against was Feather’s own.
Bickett also administered the oaths of office for mayor and mayor pro tem to Ponds and Feather, respectively. Ponds said after the proceeding the board will continue to work together as a team, and she expressed gratitude to the members for their efforts.
In other more routine reappointments, the board chose Chip Short as town attorney, Becky Shives as town clerk and Peters as town manager.
It also named Feather as the town’s representative on the Cabarrus-Rowan Metropolitan Planning Organization, a transportation advisory group working in conjunction with the DOT.
Feather will serve as the MPO’s chairman in 2010. “I think it will be a good year for us,” he said.
Peters and Planning Director Susan Closner will serve on the group’s technical committee.

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