Granite Quarry hires former commissioner Steve Blount as town planner

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 9, 2017


GRANITE QUARRY — Steve Blount, who served as a Rowan County commissioner for 12 years, is the new planning and zoning administrator for the town of Granite Quarry.

Blount also has been a Rowan County magistrate since 2015 and will continue in that role. For Granite Quarry, he will work part time — two days a week — at $24 an hour. He already has started work.

Granite Quarry Town Manager Phil Conrad also reported Monday night the hiring of Tanya M. Word of Groveport, Ohio, as the new town clerk. She is relocating from Ohio and will start work Aug. 21 at an annual salary of $50,000.

Word has been executive assistant to the city manager of Worthington, Ohio, since April 2006.

Blount, who lives in Spencer, earned a master’s degree in geography-community planning from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2008. His undergraduate degree in business administration came from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1977.

Blount was president of Comfort Contractors from 1990 to 2008 and started with that company in 1977 as an estimator and project manager.

He was on the Rowan County Board of Commissioners from 1994 to 2006, including three years as chairman. From 1990 to 2008, he was the principal in Blount Design, providing design services to owners, contractors and architects for heating and air-conditioning systems.

The last person to hold the planning and zoning administrator’s position in Granite Quarry was Susan Closner. Before Blount was hired, the town had contracted with Benchmark, a planning organization based in Charlotte.

Aldermen agreed Monday night for Benchmark to provide a code enforcement officer for the town at a rate of $65 an hour.

Conrad emphasized the Benchmark code enforcement officer would be used only for specific cases. Some of the enforcement chores the town can do in house, Conrad said.

“We will be very surgical on how we use his services,” Conrad said.

Word takes the place of Town Clerk Barbie Blackwell, who left for another job earlier this year. Word is a member of the Ohio Municipal Clerks Association and the International Institute of Municipal Clerks.

She has a master’s degree in human resources administration from Central Michigan University and a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems from Davenport University.

Before her years with Worthington, she was clerk of council for the city of Groveport and deputy clerk of council for the city of Gahanna, Ohio.

In other business Monday night, the Board of Aldermen approved resurfacing sections of 10 different streets.

The streets to be resurfaced include Maple Street from Railroad Street to the dead end; Sycamore Street from South Main to Juniper; Brookwood Drive from Pinehill Drive to the culvert construction; Frick Street from Yadkin Street to the dead end; Loganberry Lane from DeLara Circle to the cul-de-sac; Martin Street from South Main to the dead end; Brookwood Drive from the culvert construction to North Salisbury Avenue; Crowell Lane from North Salisbury Avenue to Brookwood Drive; Rowan Street for 335 feet from South Main; and Mulberry Lane from Barringer Street to the cul-de-sac.

Carolina Siteworks will do the resurfacing projects, not to exceed $235,000 total. The town will use $83,400 from 2017-18 Powell Bill funds and $86,691 from unused Powell Bill funds from previous years.

The aldermen instructed Conrad to pursue a loan for financing the balance.

“This has been a long time in coming,” Mayor Bill Feather said.

The town has used past years to address a couple of failed culverts, which ended up costing roughly $750,000, Feather said.

Alderman Jim LaFevers said the resurfacing of streets proposed is the largest he has seen during his years on the board.

“We have a lot of catching up to do,” Feather said.

In another street matter, the aldermen approved a resolution seeking discretionary funds from the General Assembly to make improvements on Veronica Lane.

The resolution says Veronica Lane was built as a substandard street as part of a subdivision platted before Oct. 1, 1975. The N.C. Department of Transportation did not take on the full length of Veronica Lane for maintenance, which would include a culvert and pipe.

Town officials say residents on the street “cannot safely access their property,” nor can emergency services respond safely to one of the single-family homes because of the maintenance issues.

An estimate for pipe removal and replacement, asphalt, stone, grading and environmental permitting to correct the problems is roughly $101,000.

Mayor Feather said if the state funds were allocated and the DOT fixed the street, the town would take over its future maintenance as part of its Powell Bill funding.

In other town business, aldermen:

• Approved the $42,465 purchase of a Bobcat skid-steer loader for the town maintenance department. Maintenance Director Jason Hord described for aldermen some of the jobs the multipurpose loader will perform for the town, including street sweeping and snow removal if necessary.

• Approved spending $7,478 on landscaping a troublesome bank at Granite Lake Park. The new landscaping will include four red bush, three dogwoods, 11 Cotton Easter moon creepers, 12 winter jasmine, four butterfly bushes and 11 dwarf crape myrtles.

Other work will include fabric, mulch and labor. Godley Garden Center will do the project.

• Agreed to a list of surplus property for the Granite Quarry-Faith Police Authority. Items to be listed for auction on GovDeals will include a 2011 Ford Crown Victoria, six Kustom Pro radar units and one Kustom Golden Eagle radar unit.

• Passed a resolution asking the General Assembly to earmark discretionary funds for curb and sidewalk improvements on U.S. 52 between M&K Restaurant and Church Street. The General Assembly has discretionary funds to address “pedestrian mobility and safety” as well as “provide for future economic development opportunities for cities and towns,” the resolution says.

Sidewalk improvements in this area are estimated at $82,390.

• Approved a change in the speed limit on U.S. 52 from 45 mph to 35 mph from Depot Street to Antioch Baptist Church.

• Heard from Wes Rhinier, one of six candidates for alderman, who called on the board to cease and reconsider development of proposed athletic fields off Faith Road at least until after the election. Rhinier said there “seems like a lot of shady stuff went down” with the purchase of the property.

He also called for  an “environmental study” on the impact of bees. A homeowner has hives next to the proposed fields. Feather asked Conrad to fashion a response to Rhinier’s concerns.

“There are two sides to that story, and Mr. Rhinier deserves to have the other side,” Feather said.

• Acknowledged a $10,000 gift from the Blanche and Hubert Ritchie Foundation for the Police Department.

• Heard from Garry Mattingly, owner of Slice of Heaven pizza, that his restaurant, Wahoo’s Diner and the Hot Dog Shack are offering full-time law enforcement officers and first responders in town opportunities for free meals once a month in appreciation for their service.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.