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West Innes Street bridge: Close, but no cigar yet

SALISBURY — Realists out there, don’t expect the West Innes Street bridge near Catawba College to be open until after Labor Day.
City Engineer Wendy Brindle gave Salisbury City Council an update Tuesday on the bridge replacement over Grants Creek, which has detoured West Innes (U.S. 601) traffic for months.
A N.C. Department of Transportation representative told Brindle that if weather cooperates, the bridge could be open by Aug. 28. But a more realistic date, according to the DOT, is Sept. 5.
North Hills Christian School, maybe the school most affected by the bridge closure, has its first day of school Aug. 13. Rowan-Salisbury Schools go back into session Aug. 25.
Mayor Paul Woodson said he recently has fielded several complaints about the bridge replacement project’s taking too long.
Elsewhere in the city, it looks as though a 1902 house damaged by fire five years ago will be coming down.
Council approved Tuesday an order for demolition of a house at 1030 S. Fulton St. The large, two-story structure sits at the corner of South Fulton and Elm streets.
A Feb. 22, 2009, fire did not leave a situation beyond repair. The fire marshal’s office judged $10,000 in damage at a time when the property had a value of $50,000.
In the end, Code Services Division Manager Chris Branham said, the Plainsboro, N.J., owner has not done anything to fix the structure and bring it up to habitable standards.
The house went through an inspection by the city Sept. 28, 2012, and a required hearing with findings of fact Nov. 16, 2012, without any repairs to the property since then.
The house lies within the Fulton Heights Historic District, and the Salisbury Historic Preservation Commission delayed any move toward demolition with a 90-day stay starting Nov. 14, 2013.
The 90 days has expired.
Branham said the current assessed value of the property is $37,706. He showed council members slides of the house’s fire damage, water damage and how trash has accumulated on site. Windows also are broken out.
Neighboring properties are kept up nicely, Branham said.
The vote for proceeding with demolition was 5-0.
Branham judges the contractor cost for demolition will be about $5,000, with an asbestos inspection fee of $350.
In another matter Tuesday, council approved a resolution in support of designating Faith Road from Jake Alexander Boulevard to N.C. 152 as the “Rep. W. Eugene McCombs Memorial Highway.”
Charlie Walters, who served with McCombs when they were on the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, appeared before council and asked members for their consideration of the request.
Walters said he had the privilege of sitting next to McCombs for 10 years as a county commissioner, and he never had a doubt one time that McCombs wasn’t representing the best interests of Rowan County.
Walters said McCombs served during a progressive time in the county that included, for example, the creation of Dan Nicholas Park.
McCombs’ public service covered 38 years. He was a mayor and alderman in Faith, a county commissioner and two-term state House representative before his death in 2004. For 10 out of 12 years as county commissioner, he served as the board’s chairman.
Councilman Pete Kennedy said he worked with McCombs wife, Jean, for many years at East Rowan High School.
Councilwoman Karen Alexander recalled her days of calling on McCombs in Raleigh during legislative sessions when she was serving on a state architectural association’s board.
“She (Jean) would see you if he couldn’t,” Alexander said.
Rockwell, Faith and Rowan County will be asked to consider similar resolutions as part of a request to the N.C. Department of Transportation for the highway designation.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, council recognized the nine students who participated in the city’s Summer Youth Employment Program, whose funds came from the Community Development Block Grant.
The summer employees worked in parks and recreation, public information, the customer service center, finance, telecommunications, administration and human resources, transit and planning.
The fifth-year program had 40 applicants to fill jobs over six weeks. Council held a reception for the students and their families prior to Tuesday’s meeting.
Participants this summer included Ronnie Rollings, Rosalina Blakeney, Deasha Jones, NyAsia Harris, Dante Gaston, Diamond Wooten, Lluliana Guerrero Delgado, Sierra Charles and Sarah Tran.
In other business Tuesday, council:
• Approved the voluntary, satellite annexation of the Rowan County Fairgrounds, which encompasses 25 acres. By agreement, the annexation is retroactive to June 30.
• Approved a permit to allow four pool tables at Firewater, located at 122 Avalon Drive.
• Approved a permit allowing two pool tables at LaCabana, located at 2168 Statesville Blvd.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

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