East Spencer creates policy allowing street to be named for former alderman Tony Hillian

Published 6:30 pm Tuesday, February 8, 2022

By Natalie Anderson

EAST SPENCER — Town officials adopted a policy this week that will allow residents to petition for a street or building to be named in honor of the late alderman Tony Hillian.

Hillian died at the age of 47 on Jan. 14. He was well-known in East Spencer for his service on the town’s board and for championing “the 28039,” a reference to the town’s zip code. He was re-elected to a second term in November after edging out a win for the third and final seat by just one vote ahead of Albert Smith, an incumbent at the time who was also seeking re-election.

Hillian worked part-time at Noble & Kelsey Funeral Home,  Salisbury Parks and Recreation Department and the International Sports Academy. He also coached North Rowan High’s girls basketball team for four years.

Town Administrator Michael Douglas said his January death prompted questions about whether a street or road can be named in someone’s honor. Since the town didn’t have a written policy, Douglas created one in line with North Carolina Department of Transportation requirements.

Mayor Barbara Mallett said there aren’t yet any particular streets or roads being considered for Hillian.

In the new policy, a petitioner must have at least 75% of support among the residents who live on the street being petitioned. That request must be approved by the East Spencer Planning Board before coming to the town board for approval. The town is responsible for alerting the county, local postal offices and everyone who resides on the street. The town must hold a public hearing for the request, with 30 days provided for public comment.

Any public street or building within the town’s limits and extra territorial jurisdiction is applicable, except for streets maintained by NCDOT, which must be approved by that department.

The policy includes provisions for historic precedents and tradition, stating that existing streets, parks and buildings should not be renamed unless a major renovation of the facility warrants it. The policy could apply to those who have provided significant funding for a renovation or construction project, those recognized for their civic contributions and as a gift, trade or bargain of real property.

Also at East Spencer’s meeting this week:

• The town granted $1,975 to resident Vernetta Hosch on the 600 block of Shaver Street to connect the sewer line on her property with the main line on Shaver Street. Hosch and Douglas said her home anchors an illegal sewer line that goes through a creek and into someone else’s property where it connects to the main sewer line on Shaver Street. A buildup of dirt and debris weighing on the line is causing backups, and Salisbury-Rowan Utilities won’t service the line since it’s illegal, Douglas said. The money Hosch will receive comes from the $23,000 set aside from the town’s federal American Rescue Plan funding for local home rehabilitation projects.

• The town approved a budget amendment to increase employee compensation for all departments in the next three years using $447,000 of revenue from excess property and equipment sales. For the 2021-22 budget, a total of $5,000 is granted to administration, $17,000 for police, $17,000 for public works and $55,000 for code enforcement. The remaining $353,037 will go into the fund balance, which is partially a savings account for the town. Douglas said the numbers represent a 10-12% increase across all departments per year.

• East Spencer Fire Chief Shawn McBride said the department is anticipating a slew of grants to help with equipment purchases. One includes $10,000 in COVID-19 relief funding from the state. Additionally, a FEMA grant is expected to help the town purchase a new cascade system and commercial washer and dryer. The grant has a 5% match, so the town will pay $3,000. The department also received a backup generator from a North Carolina Forestry Service grant free of charge that’s already in place. McBride also said the department is waiting to take ownership of a 2022 F-250 truck that will replace an outdated Ford Expedition. The cost of that vehicle is $54,000, with half reimbursed by the state.

• East Spencer Police Chief John Fewell said the department expects to have in service its four new vehicles, including a Dodge Durango and three Dodge Chargers. Town board member Curtis Cowan asked about female officer recruitment, and Fewell said he’s only had two applicants since he began last year. The department currently has one vacancy with one potential candidate.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com or call her at 704-797-4246.

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