St. Pauls Magistrate Shirley McMillan, left, reads the oath of office Thursday evening during a swearing-in ceremony for police Officer Jennifer Mathna, while her husband, Zachary Mathna, holds the Bible and their 1-year-old son Collin. The ceremony took place during a regular town Board of Commissioners meeting.
ST. PAULS — Commissioners heard mostly good news during a Thursday night board meeting, including that two projects are closer to realization.
The town has secured permission to access land from 20 of 29 landowners along the route of the Gumbo Branch Drainage project, which aims to clear ditches and improve the flow of excess water from areas inside the town to the basin, Town Administrator Rodney Johnson said. The owners’ permission clears the way for workers to access their land to clean out ditches along the project’s route.
“We have all the critical ones,” Johnson said of land access necessary for the project. “It’ll be better to have as many as we can have.”
The project still is in preliminary phases.
Mayor Pro Tem Evans Jackson also gave updates to the drainage project along Elizabeth Street.
The town and its attorney Tim Smith, of Yarborough, Winters & Neville, is working to get permission to use the $330,000 in Golden LEAF money to fund the project.
“Before, Golden LEAF (funds) had to be used after the CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) grant,” Jackson said.
Elizabeth Street resident Steve Glover expressed frustration with the project’s slow progress.
“That’s not going to take us halfway down the street,” Glover said of the funding.
“But if we go ahead and get the Golden LEAF money, we can get started on it,” Jackson said.
Also discussed Thursday was the option to refinance the $189,974 loan taken out to build the St. Pauls Fire Department. The loan originally was financed for 40 years at 4.5% interest, which puts the final loan cost at $270,000.
“We can get much better a rate than that so, that’s what this is about,” Jackson said. “We’re not trying to borrow any money to build anything else. I want to make that clear.”
Commissioner John Gudauskas Jr., a certified public accountant, presented a financing option for 10 years at 3.2 % interest. Lumbee Guaranty Bank could offer a financing plan that puts the loan’s total cost at $189,974, which would save the town $80,026. The payments would be $1,559.79 a month and $18,717 a year.
Gudauskas said he was waiting for First Bank to offer another option to shorten the time left on the loan.
No action was taken on a refinancing plan.
Also during the meeting, Jackson presented a proclamation honoring the service of deceased St. Pauls resident Patrick Gavin Tadina, the longest continuously serving Ranger in the Vietnam War. Tadina, who died May 29, also served in Operation Desert Freedom, Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield.
He was the recipient of two Silver Stars; four Bronze Stars; three Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry; four Army Commendation medals, including two for valor; and three Purple Hearts.
Tadina’s wife, Karen Tadina, and daughter, Alamea Tadina, accepted the framed proclamation with gratitude.
“I really appreciate them doing it, it means a lot to the whole family for him to be recognized like that,” Karen Tadina said.
In a separate ceremony, Jennifer Mathna was administered the oath of office as a St. Pauls Police Department officer.
Commissioners also finalized a letter to be sent to sanitation customers stating the cost to use blue recycling bins as a result of the town canceling its recycling program. Residents must pay an extra $5 a month per blue bin to continue using them for the disposal of household garbage. The town will begin collecting the bins on Aug. 17 if residents do not wish to continue using them.
Neil Yarborough, of Yarborough, Winters & Neville, said goodbye Thursday, the last night of his service to the town.
He has served as the town’s attorney one day shy of 30 years, Yarborough said.
“I’ve enjoyed representing the town,” he said. “… It is my hope and belief that the firm will continue to represent the town.”
Mayor Elbert Gibson spoke of his gratitude for Yarborough’s service.
“He’s been a blessing to this town. He’s done a lot for us and he’s always been available,” Gibson said.
Reach Jessica Horne at 910-416-5165 or via email at [email protected]