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Powerline zaps Granite Quarry street work

By Mark Wineka
mwineka@salisburypost.com
GRANITE QUARRY — The relocation of a power line has led to major delays in construction of the Brookwood Drive culvert.
The project’s contractor has pulled off the job until a Duke Energy-approved design is in place and additional easements from at least two property owners are secured.
Already under construction, the project will be held up for several weeks, possibly months.
Mayor Pro Tem Bill Feather peppered project manager Jeff Moody with questions Monday night about how communications broke down among the engineering firm, contractor and Duke Energy.
He said the town should not have started without the power line issues being resolved, and he laid much of the blame with Moody’s engineering firm and poor communication.
Feather said the delay is unfair to the contractor and residents dealing with the construction.
“It just seems to me this is being poorly managed,” Feather said.
Duke Energy is required by OSHA to have a design for moving the power line. Randy Welch explained how Duke must know what specific clearances are required for equipment such as cranes or backhoes.
The information is important for safety reasons.
From the beginning of the project, Moody said, engineers knew Duke would need this information but until a contract was awarded, they didn’t know who the contractor would be and what equipment would be used.
After work started, Moody said his firm asked the contractor to supply the information so it could be forwarded to Duke Energy, but it didn’t happen until last Friday.
Meanwhile, the contractor has stopped work until Duke’s design is ready.
Welch said Duke will try to do its design work over the next several weeks, but other variables could add to the delay.
The property easements have to be negotiated. Plus, cable and telephone lines also will have to be relocated on the poles.
Feather asked what the additional costs will be of relocating the power line. Moody said roughly $5,000. Feather said he was disappointed this was the second culvert project in which the town was hit by additional costs after the projects started.
Moody, who works for Alley, Williams, Carmen and King of Kannapolis, was called into the project last week and has been communicating with the contractor and Duke Energy since then.
“I’m starting the oversight on this project,” he said. “I’m trying to be as responsive as possible.”
He said the engineers will make sure property owners continued to have access, and an inspector will monitor the construction area after rains.
Mayor Mary Ponds thanked the residents for their patience and apologized for the inconvenience. “I want us to do whatever needs to be done and do it correctly,” she said.
In another matter, Town Manager Dan Peters gave aldermen sobering news on revenue projections and how they compare to 2008.
Property tax revenues will be down from 2008 by $105,200; sales tax, $116,351; investment earnings, $49,999; and franchise taxes, $17,978.
The total loss in revenues over three years is projected at $289,528, which translates to 14 cents per $100 valuation on the property tax rate.
Peters noted that the town has made many cuts in expenses over that period, so the effect on the tax rate would not be that severe, but “we’re in a situation, as we all know.”
“We’re looking at every penny,” Peters said in preparing a budget for 2011-12.


In other action:
The Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen also considered these matters Monday night:
• To save money on its power bill, the board decided that Granite Lake Park and Civic Park will be open from sun up to sundown. Meanwhile, lights for the ball field and tennis courts at Civic Park will only be available until 9 p.m.
As of now, lights are available from 6-10 p.m., and they often are left on, even though no one is playing tennis or using the ballfield.
Town Manager Dan Peters said the lights at Granite Lake Park cost $500 a month, while the tennis courts and ball field each cost $17 an hour.
• The board approved the placement of three park signs that advise of a state law requiring bikers under the age of 16 to wear helmets. Cost for the three signs will be $90 total. The recommendation came from the Parks, Events and Recreation Commission.
• The board approved an agreement with the N.C. Department of Transportation for gates and signal lights on Kerns and Church streets, as part of the town’s earlier commitment to close the Lyerly Street crossing.
The DOT will waive the town’s 10 percent share of the installation costs on the two streets, and Granite Quarry will only have to pay half of the annual maintenance charges, meaning $3,000 a year total.
• Fire Chief David Morris introduced two new firefighters, Emaleigh Herring and Greg Philpott.
• Granite Quarry will be host April 16 for a firemen’s muster at Civic Park (West Peeler and North Oak streets). So far seven departments are confirmed, with more entries expected.
• The board approved a resolution to sell 14 surplus items, including two Crown Victoria cars and a Chevrolet truck, on the website GovDeals.
• The town will sponsor its annual Easter Egg Hunt April 17 at Civic Park. The hunt begins at 2 p.m.
• The “Plants in the Park” event will be held from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. April 30 at Granite Lake Park. The public will be able to purchase plants, flowers and birdhouses from high school agricultural and shop classes and local clubs.
• The Nathan Brown House 5K Run will be held April 30, and South Main Street (Old 80) is expected to be closed from 8-10 a.m. between U.S. 52 and Bank Street.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

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