Granite Quarry wants polling spot to stay at Town Hall

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 7, 2012

By Mark Wineka
GRANITE QUARRY — Granite Quarry officials think it’s a bad idea to move the town’s polling location from Town Hall to the Legion Building.
The Rowan County Board of Elections is considering the change, and it asked for the Board of Aldermen’s input Monday night.
The possible move failed to receive a ringing endorsement.
Mayor Mary S. Ponds said the Legion’s Building’s location off Park Avenue is too remote, and many residents probably don’t know where the town-owned Legion Building is.
“Here, on the main strip, we’re visible,” Ponds said of the Town Hall’s location on North Salisbury Avenue.
Alderman Jim LaFevers expressed concerns about the traffic flow in and around the Legion facility and the additional burden it might place on voters.
Alderman Eloise Peeler said she wanted the polling spot to stay at Town Hall. She and others were curious as to how the Elections Board even heard about the Legion Building. In the most recent election, the Elections Board consolidated the North and South Granite Quarry precincts into one location — the Town Hall.
Previously, one of the precincts voted at Granite Quarry Elementary School.
The Board of Elections is meeting this morning, and it had asked Town Manager Dan Peters to seek the Board of Aldermen’s opinion on a polling location change Monday night.
Mayor Pro Tem Bill Feather said he also favored the Town Hall location and described it as a residential vs. commercial area of town, with the Legion Building’s being in the residential location.
In another matter Monday night, aldermen returned briefly to the question of travel reimbursement for board members. The board’s expense reimbursement has been a point of ongoing discussion, especially for the mileage costs of Ponds, who serves on many community boards.
The board tabled discussion of travel reimbursement last month. Ponds appointed a committee of Feather and Alderman Brad Kluttz Monday night to look into the question and report to the board with a recommendation.
“We’ll shoot for next month,” Ponds said.
During citizen comments earlier in the meeting, Mike Brinkley spoke at length on the expense reimbursement question.
Brinkley had been a member of the Board of Aldermen from 1991 to 2001 and, he said, “the members, to my knowledge, received no reimbursement for travel, including the mayor.”
“But those mayors did do quite a bit of traveling in an attempt to make this town better by pursuing various opportunities to bring business or industry to Granite Quarry,” Brinkley added.
Brinkley said in the past when board members attended special training out of town, they might receive money for mileage, rooms and meals.
“But only after board approval,” he added. “… Everyone considered the pay that we received sufficient to cover any costs that we may incur during the course of our term on the board. I do not think, and I certainly hope, no member was on the board for the money.”
Brinkley listed the miles Ponds submitted for reimbursement in December 2011. They included trips to Rowan Helping Ministries, Rowan Regional Medical Center (three times), a Carolina Thread Trails meeting in Mooresville, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s graduation, Communities in Schools, Chamber of Commerce and a business ribbon-cutting.
Total mileage for 10 different dates Brinkley listed was 189 miles. At the town’s reimbursement rate of 55.5 cents a mile, Ponds would have received $104.89 for her travel.
In January, Ponds strongly defended her travel expenses because it’s mileage she logs while serving on more than a dozen community boards and committees.
She said she serves in those positions as a representative of the town.
Citizens generally are given 3 minutes to address the board, but Ponds allowed Brinkley to go over his time limit Monday night before finally asking him to stop.
Brinkley claims the board “has had this problem involving the mayor’s reimbursements since at least May 2010, if not longer, and has failed to address the issue for some unknown reason.”
Contact Mark Winekaat 704-797-4263.