Granite Quarry considers upgrading Christmas lights, OKs Scout’s ambitious project

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 7, 2018

GRANITE QUARRY — Christmas came early in many ways during Monday night’s Board of Aldermen meeting.

The board is looking at roughly $15,000 worth of  improvements to its downtown Christmas lights — what most residents recall are snowflakes that line both sides of U.S. 52.

Meanwhile, in a gift that will keep on giving, aldermen committed $1,500 toward the Eagle Scout project of Troop 350’s Noah Wiles, who has an elaborate new landscaping plan for the town American Legion building.

Wiles, who has been working closely with Police Chief Mark Cook, plans to lay an 80-foot walkway at the front of the building, plant greenery, and install five flagpoles and two benches.

The flagpoles will fly the flags of different branches of the military.

In another matter, aldermen continued in their giving ways by approving $1,000 toward the Rowan United Way’s Day of Caring, which will be Sept. 13.

As usual, those town funds will go toward work done that day by volunteers at Granite Quarry Elementary School.

Jackie Harris, resources development and marketing officer for United Way, said projects at the school this year will include building an outdoor classroom and redoing the walking track.

“It’s $1,000 that we will turn into a lot more,” Harris said of how much value Day of Caring projects represent, thanks to donations of materials and the volunteer labor and expertise.

On the Christmas lights, Maintenance Director Jason Hord provided aldermen with cost estimates for adding Christmas fixtures and changing out all the bulbs from incandescent to LEDs on existing snowflakes.

Hord proposed four new lights at the town square (considered U.S. 52 and Bank Street) that would be candles with holly leaves. He also recommended adding six new snowflakes with 12 face-plate kits for installation.

The cost of a new meter, necessary wiring and installation would be $5,980. Add in the cost of 10 new fixtures, and the total would be $11,232.

But Hord also suggested the town go totally to LED lights on its Christmas fixtures. That would add another $4,500.

Hord emphasized that the aldermen needed to make a decision pretty quickly — a 20 percent discount from the supplier lasts only until Aug. 15.

For all of the aldermen’s meeting Monday, a snowflake was plugged in and on display. Hord had outfitted the top part of it with three different shades of white LED bulbs that are available.

“I think we should go for it,” he said, adding the LEDs would represent a 90 percent cost savings over time in electricity. But he cautioned, “You’re not going to get all your money back in one year.”

Alderman John Linker said Rockwell noticed a 60 percent reduction in the electricity needed to display Christmas lights last year by going to LED bulbs.

Alderman Kim Cress said if the town mixed some new LED bulbs with existing ones, it would look terrible, and Alderman Jim Costantino agreed that “a piecemeal thing won’t look good.”

“We need to do this,” Costantino said. “We just need to figure out how to fund it.”

Cress and Mayor Bill Feather advised some caution, citing years past when Christmas lights were offered at a 50 percent discount just after Christmas. “I think we need to be very cautious of where we pull this money out,” Cress said.

In the end, the aldermen approved Hord’s recommendations, but they will seek input from the downtown revitalization team in the next few days.

Wiles, the Scout going for his Eagle, has laid out a project that Cook says will cost as much as $3,000. Wiles already had some financial commitments from businesses and civic clubs before addressing aldermen Monday night.

Taylor Clay Products is providing the 1,800 brick pavers needed at a highly discounted price. Vulcan Materials and Godley’s Garden Center also are helping out.

“It’s certainly a worthwhile project,” Linker said.

Cress asked that the board members be invited to Wiles’ Eagle ceremony, and he thought the project should include some kind of plaque noting the contribution from Wiles and Troop 350.

It so happens that Wiles’ great-uncle Tex Lyerly installed the current flagpole — which will remain — and lighting at the Legion building.

Wiles and his troop plan to tackle construction Aug. 18 and 25.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.