Kannapolis council honors Geathers, discusses recycling
By Hugh Fisher
KANNAPOLIS — Kannapolis City Council began its business Monday by honoring its longest-serving member, who took his seat at the opening gavel for the final time.
At the start of the organizational meeting, Ken Geathers occupied the seat he had held since he was named to the first council in 1984.
In the front row of the audience sat his successor, Ryan Dayvault, 26, with family and friends nearby.
Dayvault was the top vote-getter in the Nov. 8 election, in which sitting members Roger Haas and Tom Kincaid were also re-elected.
Kincaid won his first full term as a council member, having been appointed in 2010 to replace the late Richard Anderson.
After casting his final votes to approve the minutes from recent meetings, Geathers looked on solemnly as Mayor Bob Misenheimer read a proclamation honoring his 27 years of service.
He then presented Geathers with a large display box containing a signed copy of the proclamation and the key to the city.
About 75 spectators, including Geathers’ family, joined the mayor and council members in giving Geathers a standing ovation.
“It’s been a good ride,” Geathers said. “You know, God’s been good to me, I’ve got an outstanding family and we’ve been blessed to live in Kannapolis for 41 years.”
Not only to live there, Geathers said, but to be one of those who helped Kannapolis transition from Cannon Mills’ company town to a fast-growing city of its own.
“I hate losing,” Geathers said. “But you know what, I’m not worried. We’ve got the best city council we’ve ever had.”
“I’ve been on all of them, so I know that,” Geathers added, drawing a few laughs.
He praised his fellow council members, but cautioned them not to “kill the goose that lays the golden eggs” — that is, he said, the people of Kannapolis who pay the taxes and support the city.
Geathers’ final comments were directed to his successor.
“Ryan, I wish you the best,” he said to Dayvault. “The only qualification you need is to love this city.”
At Geathers’ request, the proceedings paused so he could leave the meeting room with his family.
City Clerk Bridgette Bell then called Dayvault, Haas and Kincaid, in turn, to take the oath of office.
And Bell exchanged Geathers’ nameplate on the dais for Dayvault’s, completing the transition.
As its first official act, Councilman Darrell Hinnant nominated Councilman Gene McCombs to serve once more as mayor pro tem.
No other names were put forth, and the vote was unanimous.
The evening’s biggest item of business was a presentation on the city’s curbside recycling program.
Public Works Director Wilmer Melton and Community Outreach Coordinator Renee Goodnight showed a video and some statistics from the first four months of the new program.
Melton said that so far, recycling has saved the city more than $36,000 in landfill fees.
During that same time, the city has banked more than $27,000 from the sale of recyclables.
That money, Melton said, goes into a fund to help defray the costs of operating the program.
Also placed in that fund are the proceeds from a $3.20 monthly fee charged to residents on their water bills.
Hinnant asked whether, if those profits continue, that fee could be reduced.
Melton said it was too soon to tell.
Dayvault asked whether that money might not be used to help educate citizens to increase participation.
Melton had shown figures indicating that as many as 90 percent of people in some parts of the city had been participating in the curbside recycling program.
But some areas of the city are lagging.
The Forest Park community and streets near KIS are hovering near 50 percent participation.
And northern Kannapolis, along Main Street north of Woodrow Wilson Elementary, has hovered around 40 percent.
However, recycling education is now in place at all Kannapolis City schools and in the four Cabarrus County schools in the city limits.
“We want kids at school to be able to recycle exactly as they do at home,” Goodnight said.
“If you go to them young and talk about recycling and why it’s important, it will encourage participation at home,” she said.”
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.
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