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Wilson Fire/Rescue Services Earns Class 1 Rating
Wilson Fire/Rescue Services recently learned its inspection rating has improved to the highest level achievable, making the department one of the safest in North Carolina. Mike Causey, North Carolina Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal, made the announcement during the June 21 Wilson City Council meeting.
WF/RS recently completed a routine inspection conducted by the Department of Insurance Office of the Fire Marshal. The inspection evaluates staffing levels, equipment, maintenance of equipment, communication capabilities, and availability of a water source. Upon completion of the inspection, a rating of 1 was given to WF/RS, the highest level available.
“I’d like to congratulation Chief Alston for the department’s performance and for the hard work of all the department members,” said Commissioner Causey. “The citizens of Wilson should rest easy knowing they have a fine group of firefighters protecting them and their property in case of an emergency.”
Commissioner Causey praised the department’s accomplishments during the City Council presentation. He noted that only 12 of the 1,532 fire departments in North Carolina have earned a Class 1 rating.
The North Carolina Response Rating System ranges from 1 to 10, with 1 indicating the safest departments.
“I am extremely proud of our department for this achievement,” said WF/RS Chief Albert Alston. “Wilson is the first department east of the Triangle to earn a Class 1 rating, which is a tremendous accomplishment for fire service in eastern North Carolina. Our department earned the rating through a consistent focus on training, maintaining and preserving our equipment, and the strong contributions of our Water Resources Department. We are grateful to the City Council and the City’s administration for their steadfast support of WF/RS.”
During the presentation, Deputy City Manager Harry Tyson also recognized Water Resources Director Barry Parks for his department’s contribution toward the Class 1 rating. An important component of the inspection is availability of a water source for all areas within the service territory.
The new rating is effective on September 1, 2018. The department’s previous rating was a Class 2.
The most noticeable impact for Wilson residents and businesses involves insurance rates. Homeowners will not likely see a noticeable change in insurance rates, since a Class 2 rating also ensures lower rates based on fire service capabilities. Commercial and industrial customers should see a decrease in insurance costs due to the upgrade.
City Manager Grant Goings to Lead Statewide Association
Wilson City Manager Grant Goings was recently elected President of the North Carolina City and County Management Association. Goings will serve a one-year term leading the state association dedicated to developing and supporting competent, ethical-driven, professional leadership for local governments across the state.
“The North Carolina City and County Management Association has meant so much to me throughout my career,” said Goings. “We are one of the largest organizations of this type in the country, and North Carolina is known nationally for good local government. It is a high honor to be selected by my peers from across the state to lead our organization, and I am grateful for the opportunity.”
Goings has served as Wilson City Manager since 2005 and has 25 years of experience in the profession. He is a graduate of Appalachian State University and served as president of the ASU Local Government Alumni Association, Chairman of the Board for ElectriCities of NC, and many local boards including two terms as President of the United Way of Wilson County. Prior to serving as President of NCCCMA, he completed three years on the Executive Committee, serving as Secretary/Treasurer, Second Vice President and First Vice President.
Goings is the fifth Wilson City Manager to lead NCCCMA since its creation in the 1930s. F.T. Green, Jack Manard, Bruce Boyette and Ed Wyatt, all former Wilson City Managers, also led the organization at one time.
Greenlight Service in Pinetops News
The City of Wilson has received an offer to purchase the fiber plant within the Town of Pinetops. National Network Holdings, Inc. has offered a purchase price of $280,000. Under the terms of the agreement, Greenlight would retain ownership of all fiber assets from Wilson to the Pinetops point of delivery.
The City will now enter an upset bid process for the Pinetops fiber plant, as described in the City Council resolution adopted on June 21.
“North Carolina leaders have long advocated for rural broadband access achieved through public-private partnerships,” said Will Aycock, Greenlight General Manager. “We are pleased to be a party to providing a rural community the broadband access needed in today’s economy while executing the direction of our state’s leaders.”
As part of legislation passed by the North Carolina General Assembly in June 2017, Greenlight could continue service in Pinetops until a private provider chose to enter the market by building its own network and notifying Greenlight. Per the legislation, Greenlight has 30 days after notification to cease service. On June 13, 2018 we were notified by Suddenlink that fiber to the home service was now available in Pinetops, meaning Greenlight must cease service by July 12.
City Offices Close July 4
City of Wilson offices, including the customer service business office and recreation centers, will be closed Wednesday, July 4, for Independence Day.
Wilson Transit will also not run Wednesday.
The holiday will not affect scheduled trash and recycling pickups. However, there will be no special pickups on Wednesday. Any questions about environmental services may be answered at 399-2485.
Anyone wanting to pay a bill have three options Wednesday:
- Doing so online atWilsonNC.org;
- Using the automated system at 252-399-2200; or
- Leaving payments in the dropbox at the customer service center on Nash Street.
Customer service may be reached during business hours at 252-399-2200.
All emergency services will operate on normal schedules.
Anyone wanting to see fireworks locally can view a show at Wilson’s Fleming Stadium, following the Tobs’ baseball game. The game versus the Fayetteville SwampDogs starts at 6:15 p.m. Tickets information is available at wilsontobs.com or by calling 291-8627.
There also will be fireworks at the Wilson County Fairgrounds. East Nash Volunteer Fire Department is sponsoring the July 4th BBQ Cookoff, Fundraiser and Festival from 2-10 p.m. at the fairgrounds. Area firefighters will be competing for the best barbecue, plus there will be rides, games, music, fire equipment displays, the EastCare helicopter and more, followed by fireworks after dark.
Wilson Police Chief Named PAL Law Enforcement Officer of the Year
Wilson Police Department Chief of Police Thomas P. Hopkins’ efforts to build stronger relationships between his officers and the community have resulted in him being selected as the National PAL Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.
The award was announced during the organization’s recent national conference in Miami, Fla.
“I would like to give honor and thanks to God for blessing the PAL program,” said Chief Hopkins during his acceptance. “I also thank National PAL President Jeff Hood and the National PAL Board of Directors for providing me with this high honor. Our Wilson Police Department PAL Board of Directors, the personnel of the Wilson Police Department, and the many community partners share this recognition for their dedication and commitment to PAL programs.”
Chief Hopkins’s passion for our community and reaching youth has transformed Wilson’s PAL program from one football camp each summer to a year-round program with more than 30 annual programs and events. Approximately 700-800 youth are influenced through all the camps, programs, and activities that Wilson PD PAL conducts annually
Chief Hopkins said he sees no better way to reach out to young people, develop relationships in the community, and support those in need than through PAL.
Several years ago, Chief Hopkins began to discuss ways to grow and to make sure no child ever had to pay to participate in PAL. After careful and prayerful consideration, Chief Hopkins led the PAL program to become a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with its own board of directors and operations. This change went into effect in 2015 with Chief Hopkins serving as executive director. After making the operational improvements, PAL experienced exponential growth.
Chief Hopkins has also led an effort to focus on longer lasting relationships with youth. He has implemented five continuously running youth mentoring programs: Boys 2 Men, Saving Our Sons, Girlz-N-Progress, Smart Girls, and one for teen mothers, S.T.R.O.N.G. Moms.
In addition to these mentoring programs, Chief Hopkins is heavily devoted to the Wilson Police Explorers program.
Chief Hopkins has also increased officer involvement in Wilson schools. Officers regularly participate in coaching, elementary reading programs, mentorship, and other programs within the schools. These efforts help build relationships with the youth and strengthen the Wilson community as a whole.
At the direction of Chief Hopkins, PAL has become the face of the department’s Community Oriented Policing philosophy. Currently these programs are available at no cost to Wilson youth: Football Camp, Cheerleading Camp, Softball Camp, Baseball Camp, two Basketball Camps, Wrestling Camp, USA Wrestling sanctioned Wrestling Club, Softball Camp, PAL Fish with a Cop event, Soccer Camp, Volleyball Camp, Tennis Camp, Field Hockey Camp, Culinary Camp, SWAT Ultimate Challenge Camp, Hiking Camp, Youth Academy, and a Dodge Ball Showdown. Every camp includes at least one full daily meal, also at no cost to attendees.
The PAL program also operates a food pantry, and a “Meals that Heal” program to feed those in need.
City Council reviews proposed 2018-19 budget
The Wilson City Council began its annual budget discussions Wednesday night with the presentation of City Manager Grant Goings’ proposed budget. The spending plan is for the fiscal year that begins July 1 and ends June 30, 2019.
The City’s proposed annual budget includes a modest tax rate increase of two cents per $100 of taxable valuation to cover increased starting salaries for police officers. Last November, City Council approved a 15 percent increase in starting salaries for Police Officer I, Police Officer II and Senior Police Officer positions to address growing vacancies in the department.
The proposed budget totals $242 million, an increase of three percent from the current budget, and is based on a property tax rate of 57.5 cents per $100 valuation. No additional debt is recommended in the budget.
In the budget presentation, Goings also recapped significant accomplishments in the current fiscal year, including re-accreditation of the Wilson Police Department at the highest level ever achieved, the announcement of Wilson Energy electric rate parity, growing investment in downtown, expanded resurfacing of streets, and Wilson’s recent economic development success.
“We are seeing significant momentum in Wilson with positive developments across all departments,” said Goings. “The objective of this budget it to keep that momentum going.”
Police Department Salary Adjustment
Goings highlighted the impacts of the police department starting salary adjustment last fall, noting that the applicant pool has increased 118 percent and vacancies have decreased 77 percent.
“We were faced with a significant problem with police officer vacancies rising and applicant interest in the department falling,” said Goings. “We realized our starting salaries had slipped to below the average for our peer group, yet our standards remained high. We needed to take action to reverse the trend before it affected the community.”
“Your actions have produced the desired results,” Goings told City Council members.
Electric Rates Now Lowest in the Region
He also highlighted the recent history of Wilson Energy electric rates and announced that the City’s electric rates are now slightly lower than all regional providers, including Duke Energy Progress.
“Through the City’s revised wholesale power contracts, we have been able to reduce electric rates by 25 percent in the past three years, resulting in an average savings of $336 for residential customers,” said Goings. “Collectively, the Wilson community has saved $31 million since September 2015. This is the first time we have publically announced Wilson Energy has reached electric rate parity.”
Goings also highlighted increased investment and interest in downtown properties. Street resurfacing has accelerated since the adoption of the vehicle registration fee two years ago. With the increased revenue, the City can now resurface nearly 10 miles of streets each year, which will make a significant impact with each additional year of increased activity.
He also stressed the contributions of Wilson Economic Development Council and investments the City Council has made in infrastructure, including building new corporate parks, upgrades in the electric and natural gas system, and a strong wastewater and water system. In this fiscal year, nearly 600 new jobs and $175 million in investment have been added.
Other highlights of the budget include:
- A $1 monthly increase in the water base rate and a $1 monthly increase in the sewer base rate.
- A $0.30 monthly increase in the stormwater fee to support infrastructure improvements, as recommended by the citizen-led Stormwater Committee.
- No raises for city employees before the results of the annual audit are presented in October. This has become the City’s standard practice in recent years – to check the City’s financial status before committing to any raises. Raises have also been merit-based in recent years with no across-the-board guarantees.
Wilson’s peer group includes Kinston, Goldsboro, Rocky Mount and Greenville. The group has an average tax rate of 63.25 cents per $100 valuation.
The City Council will hold a budget work session during its morning meeting on Thursday, June 7, beginning at 8:30 a.m. in Council Chambers.
The public hearing on the budget will be Thursday, June 21, beginning at 7 p.m. at City Hall. State law requires the City Council to adopt the 2018-19 budget before July 1.2018.
Scam targets Wilson Energy customers
City officials are warning residents about a telephone scam that is targeting Wilson Energy customers and demanding immediate payment for fraudulent charges.
The city’s customer service office and the Wilson Police Department have both received calls today about the scam. Reportedly, Wilson Energy customers are receiving phones messages to call a tollfree number. When you call the number, the systems identifies it as Wilson Utilities and asks the caller to hold for an “agent.” That person is asking the callers to purchase a pre-paid cash card.
This is not how the City of Wilson operates. All contact about past-due bills or cutoff notices are sent by mail. We never call customers about their accounts.
If you receive a call, hang up. If calls persist, contact our customer service center, 252-399-2200, so that we might assist.
City Communicators Win Two State Awards
The City of Wilson was honored earlier this month for its efforts to keep citizens aware during flooding last year.
The city’s communications department won a first-place award for crisis communications and a second-place award for photography in the 11th North Carolina City & County Communicators (NC3C) Excellence in Communications Awards.
The ceremony was held during NC3C’s conference in New Bern from April 18-20. Overall, 23 North Carolina governments won awards in the NC3C competition.
The city was recognized for its communications efforts after 8 inches of rain fell unexpectedly in a two-day period in April 2017. The flooding caused damage to city properties, including the city’s raw water pumping station at Wiggins Mill. Also, several roads were closed for days during to standing water. N.C. Department of Transportation was diverting U.S. 264 traffic through Wilson due to sections of the highway being closed.
The city was recognized for its communications efforts after 8 inches of rain fell unexpectedly in a two-day period in April 2017. The flooding caused serious damage to city properties, including a major threat to the city’s raw water pumping station at Wiggins Mill. Also, several roads were closed for days during to standing water. N.C. Department of Transportation was diverting U.S. 264 traffic through Wilson due to sections of the highway being closed.
The city used the website, Channel 8 and social media to keep citizens appraised of current conditions. A video that featured Water Resources Director Barry Parks reached nearly 40,000 people.
The department also won a second-place award in photography for the Toisnot Apartments fire training exercise in spring 2017.
“Our organization is full of city and county government communicators who are excellent at what they do. They are innovative, creative, passionate, and dedicated, and that shows in their work,” said NC3C President Catherine Lazorko. “It was an honor to preside over the program, viewing these exciting demonstrations of work to communicate the stories of the jurisdictions they serve.”
North Carolina City & County Communicators was formed in March 2007 to encourage professional development and networking among local governmental communications professionals. For more information about NC3C, visit the website, www.nc3c.com.
Wilson’s new Innovation Hub will create unique co-working and support opportunity for region’s entrepreneurs
The City of Wilson will soon construct the Wilson Innovation Hub, a unique co-working space to encourage start-ups and foster entrepreneurship in Wilson. The Hub will offer programming and support to encourage Wilson’s innovation economy.
The Innovation Hub construction will be funded in part by a $1.1 million grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation from its Community-Based Grantsmaking Initiative. The City of Wilson will contribute up to $1.6 million toward the project, which will be partially offset by revenue generated by the facility. Once complete, the Innovation Hub will offer a modern co-working space for entrepreneurs, equipped with gigabit service from Greenlight Community Broadband, Wilson’s municipal broadband system. The Hub will offer individual work spaces and small office suites for growing companies. Support services such as legal, financial and marketing expertise will be offered, as well as diverse programming to build connections.
“We are honored that the Golden LEAF Foundation has demonstrated such confidence in Innovate Wilson’s vision to be a catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship in our community,” said Grant Goings, Wilson City Manager. “Clearly, our application benefited from community collaboration. In particular, Barton College and Wilson 20/20 were critical partners in this effort. “
“The Innovation Hub represents a strong effort by Wilson to attract and retain the high level of talent that its current and future employers will demand,” said Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF President. “We are pleased to support a creative strategy well supported by the public and private sectors.”
The Innovation Hub was identified as a key strategy to strengthen and diversify Wilson’s economy through the community’s InnovateNC project. Wilson was selected, along with Asheville, Greensboro, Pembroke, and Wilmington, by the Emerging Issues Forum in 2015 to participate in the inaugural InnovateNC cohort, completing the process last year by finalizing a strategic plan focused on creating a more resilient economy in Wilson.
“Wilson has been a leader in our state in both the agriculture and manufacturing economies for generations,” said Goings. “In both cases, bold decisions by community leaders placed Wilson on a path to success. We are being very intentional about building the foundations for success in the innovation economy. ”
After an extensive renovation, the Hub will be located in the historic Belk department store building, located at 121 West Nash Street in Historic Downtown Wilson. The building will be transformed into modern co-working space, including conference facilities, training rooms, and flexible space that can accommodate large events. The Wilson team toured many successful operations before determining the design of the building, incorporating many elements from the nation’s leading entrepreneurial communities. Membership fees, leasing income, sponsorships, grants, and special event rentals will be used to offset operating costs.
The Hub is the next evolution in Wilson’s efforts to foster a culture of innovation. The Gig East series, now in its third year, attracts a regional audience of business and academic professionals to discuss technology-related topics. Smaller meetups have focused on specific topics to encourage innovation and connect entrepreneurs working independently in the region.
The Innovation Hub project timeline will be determined in the next few months, as final grant agreements are completed. The City expects to have the Innovation Hub ready for business within 18 months.
US 301 TIGER Project Groundbreaking Ceremony will be held on April 3
Construction will soon begin on the US 301 TIGER grant project. Please join us on Tuesday, April 3 at 10 a.m. for a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the construction phase of the project. Remarks will be given by US Representative G.K. Butterfield, NC Board of Transportation Member Gus Tulloss and Mayor Bruce Rose. The ceremony will take place at the Wilson Community College Lee Campus at 4815 Ward Blvd.
City Improvement Projects
Goldsboro Street Improvements
City crews have been hard at work improving Goldsboro Street, both below ground and above ground. Below ground, we’ve replaced water and sewer service lines, improved the stormwater infrastructure, moved all the electric lines from overhead to underground, and added natural gas lines.
Above ground, we are replacing all the sidewalks, adding new decorative lighting and new street trees with lighting.
All of these improvements are making way for new development in Historic Downtown Wilson. The circa 1950s infrastructure that was in place needed upgrades to allow the new projects we expect to see in the next few years.
We understand that the road closures are an inconvenience. We expect the work to be completed by the end of July. Until then, we will close the 100 and 200 blocks of Goldsboro Street daily from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Glendale and Medical Park Drive
Work will begin next Monday, March 12 on stormwater improvements to help with flooding at the intersection of Glendale Dr, Katharine Ct and Medical Park. The project will include upgrading storm drain pipe in the intersection, raising the intersection slightly and repaving the streets. The improvements are being made to help eliminate long time flooding concerns in the intersection.
Traffic will be impacted while the improvements are made, starting on March 12 and finishing by mid-July. During that time, some lanes may be closed but the intersection will remain partially open. The map below shows where traffic will be impacted. We will provide updates once the project starts.
Conner Wins Stevens Award for Soup Kitchen Leadership
The Human Relations Commission gave its highest honor to Neill Conner, who mobilizes hundreds of people to fight hunger in Wilson.
Conner, volunteer director of the Community Soup Kitchen, received the Paul Lee Stevens Humanitarian of the Year during the 47th Human Relations Awards Banquet, held Friday, Feb. 23, at Darden Alumni Center.
Renee Smith, the city’s Human Relations officer, told the large crowd that Conner is responsible for organizing 170 weekly volunteers to serve around 90 meals a day. He is responsible for fundraising, recruiting and training volunteers, and securing food sources, but he is often seen working in the kitchen and dining room.
“Neill is selfless, understanding, and lives by the words of Pope Francis…. ‘You pray for the hungry, so you feed the hungry – and that’s how prayer works,’” she read from a nomination letter
The Humanitarian of the Year Award is the highest honor the Commission can bestow on an individual that has given unselfishly above and beyond the call of duty. It’s named for Paul Lee Stevens, a well-known humanitarian in the Wilson community for nearly a quarter of a century and former vice chair of the Wilson Human Relations Commission.
There were four other nominees for the award: Geraldine Battle, Bryan Berry, Sy’Donna Braswell and Robert Farris, Jr.
Other award winners were:
- Mary Grove Missionary Baptist Church, the Good Neighbor Award, which has assisted more than 6,500 families and more than 17,000 people with its food distribution center. Also nominated was Shon Richardson.
- Crissy Oravits, Inspirational Volunteer Award, for her efforts to provide music therapy for special needs children. Judi Thurston was also nominated for this award.
- Wilson Medical Center, Community Spirit Award, for the “Keeping Fit @ the Festival” held during the N.C. Whirligig Festival. Other nominees were Wilson Law Enforcement Fellowship and the Wilson Chamber of Commerce’s Dynamic Leadership Class of 2018.
- Marvette Coley, Community Initiative Award, for working to get teen girls interested in science and technology fields, including a workshop on one-day website development. Other nominees were the Hand in Mine Organization, Oneida Mae Jenkins, and Ashely Locus.
- Madison Parker, Youth on the Move Award, a senior at Hunt High School who volunteers extensively with St. Timothy Carriage House. Other nominees were Jordan Bonner, Auston Dew, Dashay Williams and Chibuke Uwakwe.
Nominations for next year’s awards will begin in late December. Go to WilsonNC.org and search “Humanitarian Awards” for nomination forms and more information.
City employees, Biddle win United Way awards
City employees, Biddle win United Way awards
Wilson City employees won two major awards during the United Way of Wilson County’s 58th annual meeting Thursday, Feb. 15.
City employees’ 2017 campaign was chosen for the Nancy Sallenger Spirit of Wilson Award, which is given each year to a campaign that uses creativity and enthusiasm as well as demonstrates commitment to the United Way.
Matt Whitley, 2018 president of the United Way board of directors, noted that city employees had raised $108,388, a record amount for the organization. He noted that city employees gave $151.80 on average.
Whitley praised the city employees, “They say that United Way is their biggest investment in our community.”
Lisa Rogers and Matt Shaw, co-chairs of the city campaign, accepted the award from Nancy Sallenger, director of the Wilson Crisis Center.
Also, Police Maj. Scott Biddle received the Leon Wilson Humanitarian Award, which goes to recognize leadership and volunteerism. Biddle was the chairman for the countywide campaign that raised nearly $1.3 million.
Maj. Biddle is always the first person to volunteer his time and contribute money to worthy causes, Whitley said. “He is the perfect example of walking the walk.”
The city also was recognized for its 46th year of United Way campaigns with a Platinum Award.
Other winners of United Way awards included:
- Gary Proffitt was given the Marcia Parker Volunteer Service Award for the most dedicated and effective volunteer in the campaign.
- Fresenius Kabi, a Nancy Sallenger Spirit of Wilson Award for a creative campaign that involved making and painting birdhouses.
- Bridgestone Americas and BB&T both received the Extra Effort Award.
Telephone Survey Underway for Natural Gas Safety
Wilson Energy customers and non-customers may get a call in December regarding a short natural gas public safety survey. This call is to meet a federal safety regulation, and will help us improve the effectiveness of our safety education program. The survey will show the department the best ways to convey information regarding our natural gas system.
The automated survey is a random statistical survey that is delivered in both English and Spanish. It asks people who live within 300’ of a natural gas line, what they know about natural gas and natural gas safety. The survey includes 18 questions with yes/no answers and only takes a couple of minutes to complete. No personal questions are asked.
It is federally mandated of all gas operators concerning their Public Awareness plans, found in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 192.616. It is to establish Wilson Energy’s baseline to determine how much citizens know about natural gas and how well they are doing in getting the safety message out to the public.
According to the regulations, this survey will be repeated annually for the next three years.
Wilson Police Officers Receive Pay Raise
Wilson leaders have always had a strong commitment to community safety. We keep a close eye on national events and policy issues that can affect law enforcement. Recently, the Wilson Police Department has experienced a decrease in the number of qualified applicants seeking employment as Wilson Police Officers. To address this issue and attract more highly-qualified officers, the Wilson City Council recently increased starting salaries.
Salaries for Police Officer I, Police Officer II and Senior Police Officers will be raised by 15 percent immediately. The starting salaries for new officers in each of these positions will also be raised by 15 percent.
Recruitment challenges are not unique to Wilson. Police departments across the country are seeing increased retirements and resignations and fewer applications for open positions. In Wilson, we recognized that our starting salaries had gradually slipped to near the bottom of our peer group. While we cannot fix the national police recruitment issue, we can ensure our salaries are competitive and attractive to those who wish to serve.
Several departments are lowering applications standards in order to fill open positions. The Wilson Police Department seeks to maintain our high standards and will only lower standards as a last resort. We believe being highly selective about who wears a Wilson Police Department badge is one of the wisest investments we can make as a city. Our crime statistic continue to decline and the Wilson crime rate is lower than our peer group, while our community outreach is nationally recognized.
Find more information about applying to the Wilson Police Department on the City of Wilson website: http://www.wilsonnc.org/jobs/
Public Housing Units Slated For Demolition Provides Training For Wilson Firefighters
Wilson Fire/Rescue Services doesn’t often find a still standing building where the owner won’t complain if firefighters rev up a chainsaw and cut a hole in their roof or break down the front door and leave it hanging from its hinges.
But that is exactly the opportunity that the Wilson Housing Authority presented to the fire department in the form of 28 empty apartment units in its Whitfield Homes Public Housing area that are slated to be demolished by mid-October.
Until the units are all down, Wilson Fire/Rescue Services is using the empty buildings to train its firefighters and firefighters from other departments on a whole range of problems that they might confront during a real fire.
And they don’t have to worry about cleaning up behind them.
“There is great value to this training because the crews are able to train in a realistic setting,” said Deputy Fire Chief James Campbell, who heads up the department’s training division/special operations & safety.
“The houses that they are training in can be found in multiple areas of the community and the training gives the crews a better idea of the construction and layout of the houses,” Campbell said.
In addition to Wilson Fire/Rescue Services, the training opportunity has been offered to all Wilson County fire departments and the cadets enrolled at the Wilson Community College’s Fire/Rescue Academy.
“The opportunity of training in acquired structures does not come very often and when it does we try to maximize the training potential by offering it to our county mutual aid fire departments,” Campbell added.
At the units, firefighters and other personnel were able to hone their skills in forcible entry, ventilation, search and rescue, firefighter down rapid intervention, salvage and overhaul, hose-line advancement, scene size-up, victim removal, ladder operations and building construction.
Troy Davis, the development director for the Wilson Housing Authority who helped coordinate this opportunity with the fire department, said offering up the soon-to-be demolished units to help first responders train made a ton of sense.
“Building and continuing our relationship with the firefighters and other first responders is important to the housing authority and it makes us feel good to help them polish their skills on buildings we are going to tear down,” Davis said.
The units being demolished are on Banks Street, Walnut Street and Dew Street.
All of the buildings were constructed in 1965 and had developed issues that made them structurally unsound and unfit for habitation.
The Wilson Housing Authority plans to clear the property of the existing structures and eventually then build new units there to replace the demolished units and other units that were flooding in Hurricane Matthew and are not currently being lived in.
Alston Named Wilson Fire/Rescue Services Chief
Albert L. Alston, Jr. has been named the new Chief of Wilson Fire/Rescue Services, effective October 1. Alston was selected after a thorough process and will replace long-time Chief Don Oliver, who announced his retirement earlier this year.
Alston began his career in 1999 as a firefighter with WF/RS. He has worked in WF/RS continuously since 1999, rising through the ranks as firefighter, firefighter-engineer, captain, battalion chief, and as deputy fire chief for the past two years. As deputy chief, Alston was responsible for overseeing all operations and maintenance functions of the department and supervised 82 employees.
Alston was selected after a national search was conducted to determine the department’s next chief. Developmental Associates led the search process under the direction of City Manager Grant Goings and Deputy City Manager Harry Tyson. More than 57 applications were received from across the country. Each finalist went through a rigorous two-day assessment center conducted by veteran fire professionals, including 12 fire chiefs from across the state.
“Chief Alston distinguished himself among a field of highly-qualified candidates by demonstrating strong leadership skills, professional competencies, and a vision for the future,” said Goings. “He has an unyielding commitment to our community, his life-long home. We are excited to have him as our next Fire Chief and he will make a great addition to the City’s Leadership Team.”
“First and foremost, I would like to thank God for allowing me to have this opportunity,” said Alston. “My goal is to create a culture of continuous improvement in the department. We are fortunate to have a department filled with highly trained and highly skilled firefighters and fire service professionals. We intend to build off of our recent successes as we continue to provide the highest level of service to the Wilson community.”
Alston is a Wilson native and holds a bachelor’s degree in fire science-management from Fayetteville State University. He decided to become a firefighter after an elementary school field trip to WF/RS Fire Station 1 when he was in third grade. He has completed year three of the Executive Fire Officer Program and is scheduled to graduate from the prestigious program in 2018. He has achieved Chief Fire Officer Designation from the Center for Public Safety Excellence Commission of Professional Credentialing and has achieved a member (MIFireE) grade from the Institute of Fire Engineers. Twice he was awarded the WF/RS Medal of Valor for providing life-saving response during Hurricane Floyd and the tornadoes that touched down in Wilson in 2011.
“Wilson is my home and I’m thankful for the support the community has given me throughout my career,” said Alston. “I appreciate the opportunity to give back to Wilson by serving as fire chief.”
Alston will lead a department that was recently re-accredited by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, an accomplishment only 238 departments worldwide have achieved.
Alston and his wife, Geannetta, have three children.
City Expands Rollout Recycling Into New Areas
City workers began distributing nearly 6,000 rollout recycling carts Monday, meaning more city residents will soon have the convenience to recycle more.
The program will be adding nine pickup areas throughout the city. See the maps below.
Carts will be distributed by the end of this week, but residents will either begin using them next week or the following week, depending on whether they are on a Red or Blue route. More information will be left with the carts, but if people have questions or want more information, they can call 399-2485.
The rollout containers hold 96 gallons. They are replacing the 18-gallon red carryout bins that have been used for many years. The carts are picked up every two weeks.
The city began shifting to the rollout carts in October 2014. They have proven so popular that the City Council agreed to speed up the schedule for replacement. Every household will have the rollout carts by July 2018.
Firefighters Snuffing Kitchen Fires With New Burner Technology
Wilson Fire/Rescue Services is taking a hands-on approach this month to preventing kitchen fires at Wilson Housing Authority’s Varita Court apartment.
Firefighters are arranging to install four SmartBurners in each apartment’s stove. These burners contain technology that keeps them from heating to a temperature that would cause food to combust.
“It is not possible for you to have a fire on these burners,” Ben Huston, Life Safety Educator, told Verita Court residents last week.
Pioneering Technologies gave WFRS a grant that allowed the firefighters to acquire 100 sets of the burners, Fire Chief Don Oliver announced at a City Council meeting earlier this year.
The company’s interest in Wilson came as a result of other fire prevention programs the department has spearheaded, said Deputy Chief Ben Smith.
“They came to us and said they wanted to invest in our community,” Smith said. “This is one of the best fire reduction units that we have seen. This particular technology stops the fire from starting.” The Wilson Housing Authority recently acquired Varita Court and is in the process of renovating the 1920s-era building on Goldsboro Street.
“We have a terrific partnership with Wilson Fire/Rescue Services and installing these burners will make the apartments safer for the residents,” said Kelly Vick, President and CEO of the housing authority.
Smith said cooking fires are one of the leading causes of fire in any residence and that over the last decade there have been four fatalities related to cooking fires in Wilson.
The housing authority has already put SmartBurners in its units at C. Bruce Rose Plaza, and Huston said the residents there can already see the results. “It’s a win-win situation.”
In addition to the SmartBurners, the fire department will also install a smoke detector with a 10-year lithium battery in it in each apartment in Varita Court.
Wilson Fire/Rescue Services has enough SmartBurners to install them in 15 other Wilson Housing Authority units, including the townhouses on Hackney Street.
Huston left residents with a word of warning, however, about the SmartBurners. “This will not save your food,” he told them, “but it will stop it from reaching the temperature where it will catch on fire.”
City of Wilson awarded $375,000 grant for Cavalier Park improvements
August 30, 2017
The City of Wilson has been awarded $375,000 from the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund for improvements at Cavalier Park. Improvements will include a new playground, shelter, updated restrooms, accessible walking trail, pickleball courts and a new drainage system for the entire park. Two improved multi-purpose fields and dedicated off-street parking will also be included.
The Rotary Club of Greater Wilson is donating $100,000 to the project, which will be included as part of the local match required by the grant. The total project cost is nearly $750,000.
“The Rotary Club of Greater Wilson has a long-standing tradition of supporting Wilson’s parks and recreation programs,” said Connor Bedgood, club president. “The improvements at Cavalier Park have been discussed for a decade and we are proud to partner with the city to see them happen. We recognize the benefit that Cavalier Park has to the Wilson community. These improvements will not only add to the number of people who can use the park, but will bring to our community new programs and trends in recreation such as pickleball. We are eager to see the new Cavalier Park.”
The City will host a community event at the park in early October. During the event, renderings of the planned improvements will be available. The project team will be in attendance to explain the scope of the project and answer any questions from the community.
“Cavalier Park is a great community asset,” said David Lee, Wilson Parks and Recreation Director. “As we developed the Parks and Recreation Master Plan, we had many conversations with residents about what Wilson needs in terms of parks and programming. We think these improvements at Cavalier Park are a great step to meet those wishes. Cavalier will be a fully accessible park, great for strollers and wheelchairs. It will be an excellent addition to Wilson’s current park options. And it will introduce the Wilson community to pickleball, a fun activity for many ages.”
Lee attended the committee review of grant applications in Raleigh last Friday. The committee reviews each application in depth before making its funding decisions.
“We had a very positive review of our application,” said Lee. “The committee highlighted the depth of our application, the public involvement in the process, and the accessibility components included in our plan. They were also impressed with the $100,000 donation from the Rotary Club of Greater Wilson towards the project, showing the community’s commitment. At the end of our review, one of the committee members said, ‘this is going to be a great park’ which is nice to hear considering how many projects they see.”
PARTF grants are highly competitive grants provided to local governments for parks and recreational projects to serve the public. Grants require a dollar-for-dollar local match. In this year’s grant cycle, only $6 million was available with $18 million requested, meaning only a third of projects submitted for consideration were funded.
“The whole PARTF grant process has become highly competitive over the years,” said Lee. “We are thrilled Wilson was chosen to receive a grant. Only 21 projects were funded out of 61 submitted statewide.”
Wilson Fire/Rescue Services awarded International Accreditation
August 10, 2017
Wilson Fire/Rescue Services is once again ranked among the best performing and managed firefighter agencies, continuing a 15-year streak.
In July the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) certified the Wilson department as an Accredited Agency, one of only 238 groups worldwide to have achieved these standards with CFAI and the Center for Public Safety Excellence, Inc. (CPSE).
Wilson Fire/Rescue has been accredited by CFAI since 2002. The city must complete a rigorous self-assessment periodically, plus the department’s policies and procedures are evaluated by firefighters from other locations and compared to best practices.
The CFAI Board of Commissioners voted unanimously July 26 to approve WF/RS’ accreditation.
Fire Chief Don Oliver said accreditation “demonstrates the commitment of the agency to provide the highest quality of service to our community.”
The process makes the fire department better at its jobs, Oliver said. “We have also been able to use the CFAI process as a proactive mechanism to plan for the future of this agency and locate areas where we can improve on the quality of the services we provide.”
Accreditation is a voluntary program that is meant to help fire and emergency service agencies throughout the world achieve excellence. Departments work to provide continuous quality improvement and the enhancement of service delivery to their communities.
The CFAI assessment team visited Wilson Fire/Rescue Services May 30-June 2. The peer team explored the City of Wilson and conducted an in-depth review of the actual operations of the WF/RS. Its findings were that WF/RS was compliant with industry best practices and recommended accredited status to the CFAI Commissioners.
The peer team gave high remarks for the department’s proactive risk reduction programs with special emphasis highlighting the Fire and Life Safety Adventure House programs. The peer team provided a short list of recommendations the department can utilize to continue its pursuit of high quality service delivery to the community
The Wilson Police Department has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) since 1987. Only a few North Carolina cities have both accredited police and fire departments.
Wilson’s Greenlight will continue broadband service for Pinetops and Vick Family Farms
June 28, 2017
New legislation allows Greenlight to serve customers with additional conditions
The North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation on June 28 allowing Wilson’s Greenlight to continue providing broadband service to Pinetops and Vick Family Farms. The bill sets additional conditions and also authorizes Greenlight to resume charging those customers for service.
This action somewhat resolves a series of legislative and regulatory decisions that required Greenlight to cease charging for service in recently expanded areas, beginning last October. Under the new law, Pinetops customers and Vick Family Farms can continue to receive Greenlight service until another provider builds a similar fiber to the home network in the area. At that time, Greenlight would have 30 days to cease service, with customers transitioning to the new provider. In that event, Pinetops would be in the unique position of having two fiber to the home systems to serve a small, rural community.
House Bill 396: Municipal Broadband Service Area was introduced by Representative Susan Martin (R-Wilson) and Representative Jean Farmer-Butterfield (D-Wilson).
“We appreciate our delegation’s efforts, led by Representative Martin, to eliminate restrictions on Greenlight’s ability to serve customers who requested and desperately need our service,” said Wilson Mayor Bruce Rose. “While this is not the bill we had hoped for, it is a step in the right direction. We hope that in the future our General Assembly will be allowed to focus on expanding rural broadband instead of restricting it.”
Pinetops residents were left with much uncertainty in the past few months about future access to broadband service. Suzanne Coker-Craig and Brent Wooten, both Pinetops Town Commissioners, have worked diligently toward a solution to preserve reliable broadband in the community.
“Although not the solution we expected, we are pleased this bill allows us to continue to leverage Greenlight’s next generation infrastructure as we focus on growing our community,” said Coker-Craig. “Hopefully, no other provider will exercise the option to build redundant infrastructure that our community neither wants nor needs.”
Greenlight currently serves more than 200 residential and commercial customers in Pinetops, as well as providing broadband access to community and anchor institutions.
“We are pleased to learn that we will be allowed to continue serving Pinetops and Vick Farms with the best broadband service in our State,” said Greenlight General Manager Will Aycock. “Our focus moving forward is to determine how best to serve these areas under the new legislation.”
The legislation will become effective once Governor Cooper signs it into law, expected early next week.
Under legislation adopted the North Carolina General Assembly’s 2011 session, municipalities like Wilson are barred from offering broadband services except in very limited circumstances. Wilson’s Greenlight system was already built and serving customers when the legislation passed, after years of unsuccessful attempts to partner with a telecom partner to offer broadband in the city. The legislation allows Wilson to operate Greenlight only within Wilson County.
In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission ruled that a federal law encouraging the extension of broadband into underserved areas preempted North Carolina’s law. The FCC ruling allowed Wilson to provide broadband to customers within its electric service area, a five-county region.
Wilson then extended Greenlight to Pinetops in Edgecombe County and Vick Farms, a large family farm that employs nearly 300 people just over the Wilson County line in Nash County, pursuant to the FCC ruling in early 2016.
On August 10, 2016, the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the FCC had exceeded its authority in preempting the North Carolina statutes. That ruling put the 2011 NC law back in place. The NC law required Wilson to cease selling Greenlight services to Pinetops and Vick by October 2016 or risk having to shut down all of Greenlight.
The Wilson City Council voted in September 2016 to provide limited Greenlight service to customers outside of Wilson County at no charge for up to six months, a measure that will prevent disconnection of customers in the town of Pinetops and Vick Family Farms. Without this action, these customers would have been disconnected. The Council made that decision based on a commitment by Rep. Martin and North Carolina Senator Harry Brown (R-Onslow) to draft and support legislation to change the current law in the 2017 session of the North Carolina General Assembly.
Adopt A Stream/Street Program Looking For Volunteers
The City of Wilson’s Adopt-A-Stream and Adopt-A-Street Programs Are Looking For Volunteers.
By keeping our streets and streams clean of trash and yard debris we prevent storm drains and streams from clogging up as well as decrease the amount of harmful pollutants in our waterways. These programs provide citizens, businesses, clubs, and associations the opportunity to make a difference in their community. Each group is allowed to pick a section of a stream or street that is significant to them (i.e. a road on which you live, or near a park where your family goes, or where your business is located). Upon completion of the first cleanup the City will create the Adopt-A-Stream or Adopt-A-Street sign with your group name and install it at your adopted area. The City will coordinate with the group leader to provide a tool kit with all necessary items for cleanup, such as gloves, safety vests, safety cones, trash bags, and trash grabbers. Once the items from the section of stream or street are cleaned up the City will be responsible for disposing the accumulated waste.
There are several benefits of Adopting a Stream or Street:
- Makes your community more attractive
- Improves local water quality
- Helps prevent localized flooding
- Educational experience
- Team building opportunity
- A sign along your section recognizing your group for a job well done!
All interested groups should contact our city Stormwater Specialist, Noah Parsons at 252-296-3305
Wilson will receive $300,000 grant from EPA
Money will be used to evaluate ‘brownfields,’ help return land to use
June 1, 2017 – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday that it was awarding a $300,000 grant to the City of Wilson to be used to help restore deserted properties to use.
The EPA grant will be used to assess “brownfield” properties – properties that may be contaminated with hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant due to past industrial or commercial use.
“Wilson is excited to receive the maximum award EPA has granted to a community for this round,” said John Morck, Planning and Community Development Manager. “These funds will be used to help up to 16 properties assess their environmental needs, which is the first step to returning brownfields to productive use”.
Examples of brownfields are abandoned gas stations, old textile mills, industrial plants, former dry cleaners, and other abandoned industrial or commercial properties. The assessment may determine a property is safe to use or it may determine what issues need to be addressed first.
The new grants include $200,000 for evaluation of properties for hazardous substances and $100,000 to evaluate properties for underground gas tanks and other petroleum spills. Grant funds of both types also will be used to develop cleanup plans, complete endangered species surveys and cultural resource surveys, and support community involvement activities.
Wilson has used past EPA brownfield grants to evaluate properties in two target areas – Historic Downtown Wilson and the U.S. 301 corridor. One of the issues facing brownfields is that owners do not have the money to assess them, nor can they find buyers before the assessments are done.
A large section of U.S. 301 is currently being redeveloped with a federal TIGER grant and money from the N.C. Department of Transportation. This grant might boost that effort by assessing currently unused properties in the corridor and determining whether they could be redeveloped.
The EPA’s Brownfields Program encourages redevelopment of America’s estimated 450,000 brownfields sites, targeting local, under served and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, places where environmental cleanups and new jobs are most needed.
Because Wilson’s history as a prominent city in the development of the tobacco industry, it is no surprise that a large number of former warehouses and associated industrial facilities are part of the city’s brownfield program.
Wilson Named Among Best Small Cities To Start Business In ‘17
Survey considered many factors, including labor costs, cost of living
Attention, entrepreneurs – Wilson has everything you need, and more, to start a successful business, a new survey has determined.
WalletHub.com has named Wilson as 2017’s 6th Best Small City to Start a Business, based on data about the availability of labor, investor capital and other factors.
WalletHub.com compared information from 1,261 small-sized cities nationwide. Wilson was the only N.C. city to make the top 20.
“This survey just confirms what we already knew – Wilson is a great place to live and work,” Mayor Bruce Rose said. “We have made tremendous investments in our utilities, we have the best fiber optic network anywhere, and we have a great labor force. Wilson is open for business.”
Wilson ranked highest in the average revenue per locally owned business. It also was near the top in the availability of workers, labor costs, average growth of revenues and cost of living.
You can find the full study here: https://wallethub.com/edu/best-small-cities-to-start-a-business/20180.
Wilson also has many resources for anyone interested in starting a business. Helpful links:
City of Wilson Honored For Outage Reporting Tool
Website tool proved invaluable during Hurricane Matthew
The City of Wilson was recently recognized for an innovative tool on its website that allows customers to report and track outages.
Earlier this month, the North Carolina City & County Communicators presented the city a first place award in its Excellence in Communications Awards’ special projects division for the outage-reporting feature.
The contest judge wrote, “What a great use of technology. The community obviously responded well to this new tool and it sounds like it was released just in time!”
Beginning last fall, Wilson Energy customers have been able to go to WilsonNC.org/outage, and immediately report an outage. Anyone can also use the tool, which works the same on handheld electronic devices as it does on desktop computers, to see where outages exist on the Wilson Energy network.
The tool was extremely useful in keeping the public informed during Hurricane Matthew and its aftermath in October 2016. It reduced calls into the city’s dispatch center.
Wilson was among 22 North Carolina local governments to earn recognition in NC3C’s 10th annual contest. Awards were announced during the group’s annual conference held April 5-7 in Charlotte.
“Our organization is full of city and county government communicators who are excellent at what they do. They are innovative, creative, passionate, and dedicated, and that shows in their work,” said NC3C President Glenn Hargett. “It was an honor to preside over the program, viewing these exciting demonstrations of work to communicate the stories of the jurisdictions they serve.”
Judges for the NC3C Excellence in Communications Awards were government communication professionals from Kansas, Arizona, Texas, Michigan, Maryland and Oregon. Each judge has previously won state or national awards.
The purpose of North Carolina City & County Communicators is to encourage professional development and networking among local governmental communications professionals. The organization was formed in March 2007 and is made up of government professional communicators from around the state. For more information about NC3C, visit the website, www.nc3c.com.
Lake Wilson Notice
The City of Wilson needs to inspect the gates and equipment at the Lake Wilson dam to ensure its long-term, safe use. During the inspection this Spring, the lake level will be lowered up to six feet to allow for a thorough inspection. The lake will be allowed to return to its normal level once the inspection is complete.
Why is the inspection needed?
The gates in the Lake Wilson dam are original parts from 1962. While all equipment is still working well, we need to inspect the dam components as part of routine, proactive maintenance. The lake water level needs to be lower so we can conduct a full inspection.
What will happen after the inspection?
We expect that the gates will need to be replaced. Once the inspection is complete, we will identify all of the components to be replaced and will develop plans. The replacement project will start later in the summer.
Is the Lake Wilson dam still safe?
Yes, there are no safety issues with the Lake Wilson dam. This project is routine maintenance that the City of Wilson has been planning for the last few years.
Will Lake Wilson Park be open during the inspection and construction?
Yes, the park will remain open through both phases. The walking trails and disc golf course will be open all summer. Boating will be restricted when the lake levels are down. We will post signs at the park when boating is not allowed. Fishing will be available throughout the project.
Why is this project being done over the summer when I usually enjoy Lake Wilson Park?
Projects like this one need to be done in certain weather conditions. Conditions in the winter are not ideal for this type of work.
For additional questions about this project, please contact (252) 399-2374 or email@example.com
Firefighter training underway at former Toisnot Apartments
Wilson Fire/Rescue Services will hold a live-burn training at the flood-damaged Toisnot Apartments, beginning April 11 and concluding April 21.
The city acquired the apartments, located at 3815 Ward Boulevard, after they flooded following Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. The fire exercises will clear the property for possible addition to the adjacent Toisnot Park.
The training is scheduled for Tuesday, April 11, Thursday, April 13 and Monday, April 17, before concluding with a burn down on Friday, April 21. The exercises are all expected to be held between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The schedule will allow all Wilson Fire/Rescue firefighters to participate. The department has extended an invitation to Wilson County’s volunteer departments and current fire cadets to the final burning on April 21.
The scene will have one final training use – for a fire investigators class later this year.
The city has already notified nearby residents of the potential noise and smoke, but motorists should be aware of the exercise.
Work begins on utilities and sidewalks at Whirligig Station
City of Wilson officials are finalizing plans for a utility and sidewalk project that will serve the Whirligig Station multi-use redevelopment project.
On Wednesday, March 22, city workers began cutting sections of the sidewalk in the 200 block of Goldsboro Street, between Barnes and Kenan streets. These cuts will allow the later removal of sidewalk sections.
This weekend Wilson Energy workers will begin relocating electrical components in the 100 block of S. Goldsboro Street. And then on Monday, April 3, city crews will begin work to install underground conduits that will include power, phone, cable and fiber-optic lines, as well as natural gas piping.
The work will serve Whirligig Station, a $12 million project to redevelop the former Hi-Dollar Warehouse into 90 loft-style apartments and 10,000 square feet of restaurant, retail and office space, in addition to other future development around the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park. The Whirligig Station project is under construction and is set to open by early 2018.
When the city replaces the sidewalks on the north side of Goldsboro Street, it will use a style of concrete and brick pavers, similar to sidewalks along Nash Street in Historic Downtown Wilson.
Lighting will be improved along the stretch as well. The lighting improvements will be on both sides of Goldsboro Street in the 200 block.
The entire project will take approximately 8 months, officials estimate.
The city will work to ensure that customers will be able to access all businesses during construction. City officials began meeting with business owners this month and will give them regular updates on the construction process.
On-street parking may be closed at times, but there are two city parking lots off each side of Goldsboro along this block so parking is not expected to be an issue.
Electric, water and sewer outages are anticipated but the city will work with businesses to avoid negative impacts. Street closures and detours may be necessary.
The renovation continues the city’s commitment to making improvements in infrastructure when tied with major private development.
City officials do not yet have a firm estimate for the cost of the utility and sidewalk work, but most, if not all, of the work will be done by city workers, which will lower costs.
City office wins two state awards
The City of Wilson’s communications department was honored recently at a conference of press officers from across the state.
The N.C. Association of Governmental Information Officers (NCAGIO) awarded the city two awards in 2016 Excellence in Communications Awards. The honors were given during NCAGIO’s conference in Chapel Hill Nov. 17.
The city was given a second-place award in the category, “Biggest Impact with a Small Budget,” for “Can’t Stop the Wilson Parks and Recreation Feeling,” a video produced in July 2016 for National Parks and Recreation Month. The video was shared on Facebook and Youtube and was viewed nearly 20,000 times.
The judge wrote, “I choose the ‘Can’t Stop Wilson Park’ campaign for its happy, upbeat video that clearly shows how much the employees and the community enjoy their park and for all the great community comments they got for their video.”
The city was also recognized with a first-place award for photography for its photos of the 2016 Wilson County Special Olympics.
The judge wrote, “The Wilson County Special Olympics photo in my humble opinion wins. The composition with the children and the balloon follows the rules of the golden ratio and makes the viewers eyes follow the spiral of action.”
NCAGIO was formed in 1968 as a way for people who work in communications for local and state governments to network, provide training and improve their skills. More information is available at www.ncagio.org.
Wilson Parks and Recreation, Youth Soccer Association Share State Award
February 10, 2017
A state organization has honored the City of Wilson and the Wilson Youth Soccer Association for their work to make J. Burt Gillette Athletic Complex a nationally known soccer hotspot.
In late January the North Carolina Youth Soccer Association gave its 2017 Service Award jointly to Wilson Parks and Recreation Department and WYSA.
Richard Frazier, Parks and Rec recreation superintendent, told the Wilson Times, “We’re really excited about receiving this award. It was very appreciated to get the recognition for the events that we do here.”
Wilson’s recreation staff and WYSA always impress visiting athletes and coaching staffs, he said. “They always want to come back because of the quality of service and attention to detail that we always give,”
The award recognized how important Gillette has become to youth soccer since it opened in 2005. Gillette has hosted U.S. Youth Soccer’s National League season-opening weekend for girls and boys for 10 years. It gained national exposure in 2008 when it co-hosted the US Youth Soccer Region III championships with WRAL Soccer Complex in Raleigh.
The Gillette complex currently features eight soccer fields. Two of the fields are being switched from grass to synthetic turf this year to allow all-weather play. A pavilion with a plaza will be constructed between those fields. Those improvements are being financed by the recent increase in the hotel tax and are intended to let Gillette compete for event bigger tournaments.
Parks & Rec Community Survey Announcement
The Wilson Parks & Recreation Department is developing a Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Master Plan to guide future decision making for parks and recreation programs and facilities. A web-based survey is being conducted to collect relevant information regarding parks and recreation programs and facilities over the coming weeks. The survey covers many recreation questions including:
- what types of facilities are needed
- what recreation programs are beneficial
- how should park facilities and programs be funded
This information will directly influence how the Wilson Parks and Recreation Department plans for future improvements and operations. Please go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WilsonParks to provide your opinions. The City of Wilson thanks you for your time contributing to this effort.
If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Braxton Patterson at City of Wilson Parks & Recreation Department by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fitch Ratings upgrades City of Wilson bond rating
Dec. 30, 2016
The City of Wilson’s bond rating was recently upgraded by Fitch Ratings to AA+, a significant endorsement of the financial health of the city. The upgrade was announced in mid-December as part of a periodic evaluation of the city’s financial statements and budgetary practices.
“We work hard to be good stewards of public funds,” said Grant Goings, Wilson city manager. “We are proud to have bond rating agencies compliment our Council’s policies and our management practices, and ultimately higher ratings will save money.”
Bond ratings directly affect the interest rates paid by municipalities to finance large projects. The bonds affected by this upgrade were issued in 1995 to enlarge, expand and improve the water system of the city, including the construction of Buckhorn Reservoir. The bonds will be retired in 2023.
Fitch Ratings’ statement announcing the upgrade credits several factors in its decision, including “the city’s solid revenue framework, low long-term liability burden, stable growth prospects and reserve funds.”
“Fitch recently revised their criteria for U.S. state and local government credits, focusing on communicating opinions more clearly,” said Kim Hands, the city’s chief financial officer. “With this revision, Fitch advised that when applying the criteria to outstanding surveillance ratings, they expect rating changes (up and down) for less than 10% of existing tax-supported ratings. I was pleased to hear that the City of Wilson’s sound fiscal practices led to an upgrade.”
5,500 recycling containers on way to Wilson homes
Nearly triple number of residents will be able to use roll-outs
The City’s recycling program is getting ready for a major expansion in early 2017, and many homeowners are getting their carts and information this week.
The Environmental Services program began delivering 5,500 roll-out carts to residences this week. All of the carts will be dropped off by the end of this week.
The blue roll-out carts, which hold 96 gallons, replace the 18-gallon red carryout bins that have been used for many years. The carts are picked up every two weeks, and residents should start using them in January.
Every household that is affected will get schedules and recycling information with their new carts.
This is the first major expansion of the recycling program monday-red-phase-i monday-blue-phase-i since 2014. In October of that year, the city began a pilot program in eight areas around Wilson. The pilot program switched 3,000 households from bins to roll-out carts.
The pilot program was very popular with households. About 35-40 percent of households participated in recycling using the bins; that number rose to 50-55 percent with the roll-out carts. The volume of recycling materials increased as well.
The expansion will nearly triple the number of households using the roll-out containers. The city tentatively plans to replace the remaining bins with roll-outs by 2019.
Below are maps of the homes included in Phase 1 rollout by collection day. Routes are divided into Red Route and Blue Route for operational use.
”World’s Largest Tobacco Market” Warehouse to be Transformed Into Whirligig Station Mixed-Use Development
Developers broke ground Tuesday, December 6th for the largest redevelopment project in Wilson’s history, the conversion of a brick tobacco warehouse into apartments, commercial development and a visitor’s center for a massive art project.
Capilano Capital, LLC recently completed its purchase of the former Hi-Dollar Tobacco Warehouse from Wilson Downtown Properties. Now Waukeshaw Development, in partnership with Echelon Resources, will begin work on Hi-Dollar, located at 230 South Goldsboro St., one of two remaining historic brick tobacco warehouses in Historic Downtown Wilson.
The $12 million project, which will be known as Whirligig Station, will offer approximately 90 market-rate loft apartments; several commercial spaces including restaurant, retail and office; and a welcome center for the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park, scheduled to open in 2017.
The renovation is anticipated to expand the existing square footage of the 64,000-square-foot building to more than 90,000 square feet. Completion of the project is expected in 12-15 months.
Also previously known as the Cooper, Watson, Gibbons and Centre Brick, the massive warehouse sits at the birthplace of the Wilson tobacco market, known from 1919 until recent years as the largest market of bright leaf flue-cured tobacco in the country. The original frame building, built in 1896, was damaged by fire in 1900 and rebuilt with brick. The main façade fronting Goldsboro Street and the Whirligig Park site features a series of dramatic brick arches and a large arched wagon door. The building is a pivotal structure in the Wilson Central Business/Tobacco Warehouse National Register Historic District.
“Wilson has so much potential for revitalization,” said Dave McCormack of Waukeshaw Development of his first visit to the city five years ago. “We were taken in with the historic building stock, but we were most impressed with the community’s vision for its downtown and their forward thinking approach to development, not just with this project, but with their plans for the Whirligig Park project, and the surrounding Innovation & Arts Zone. I think Historic Downtown Wilson has massive potential to be a great destination and a great place to live. We are thrilled to be part of that process, and to work with the City and Wilson Downtown Properties, to bring new life to this iconic building.”
Wilson City Manager Grant Goings said, “While this is clearly the single largest redevelopment project in the history of our downtown, we’re just getting started. A project of this size in a community of our size is extremely rare and will be transformational for the area. We plan to take full advantage of the momentum of this project to continue redeveloping downtown and build our innovation economy.”
“This is a complicated project, and one that’s been difficult to pull together,” said McCormack. “The city administration and Wilson Downtown Properties have been incredibly progressive and forward thinking in helping us get this done, and we could not have done it without them. When I see the overall development goals for the community, I see that the team here is not only dreaming big, they have the capacity and the determination to get it done.”
Tom Corbett, president of the Wilson Downtown Properties volunteer board, said, “When the Smith Warehouse was demolished for salvage in 2007, Wilson Downtown Properties realized the urgency to preserve a key property honoring the city’s tobacco heritage and took on the challenge to redevelop the property. We are very proud that our perseverance is paying off and that this historic warehouse will be reused for a vibrant mixed-use project. This project, along with the Whirligig Park, and surrounding development like the Nash Street Lofts and 217 Brew Works, are serving as major catalyst projects to the bright future of Historic Downtown Wilson.”
“After emerging from a prolonged economic downturn, we are ecstatic to find the right development partner to bring this property back to life. It should be noted that this is the largest redevelopment project to date in downtown history. We have had the opportunity to see similar projects completed by members of Waukeshaw Development and believe the economic impact on Historic Downtown Wilson and the entire community will be tremendous.”
The project will be financed with a combination of Federal Tax Credits, N.C. Mill Credits, local incentives, and traditional bank financing.
Wilson Downtown Properties, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c) 3 organization and acts as the redevelopment partner of the Wilson Downtown Development Corporation (WDDC). WDP was created in order to put obsolete properties back into adaptive reuse. This organization is able to purchase or receive donations of downtown properties and negotiate their resale and redevelopment to partners that open viable retail and restaurant establishments.
About the developers
John David McCormack, president of Waukeshaw Development, Inc., has overseen or has underway, adaptive reuse and historic tax credit developments in the area comprising more than 500,000 square feet that reflect investment of more than $60 million. McCormack also works with municipalities through Virginia and North Carolina, and has expertise in many small and emerging markets including Bedford, Blackstone, Martinsville, and Cape Charles on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
Edwin Gaskins is president of Echelon Resources, Inc. Echelon focuses on financing and developing historic redevelopment projects as well as facilitating community economic development initiatives.”
Highway 301 Project Receives Additional Funding
November 15, 2016
The N.C. Board of Transportation has added $6.5 million to the U.S. 301 project, meaning a larger section of the highway corridor will be made safer and more attractive.
The state board’s decision means the U.S. 301 project is now a nearly $18 million project, including the $10 million previously awarded in late 2015 by a federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“We are extremely grateful for this great news from NCDOT, enabling us to build the project as we envisioned it,” said Mayor Bruce Rose. “We appreciate the hard work and dedication of so many people throughout this project, especially Gus Tulloss’ leadership on the state DOT board.”
“This project is an excellent investment in Wilson,” said Gus Tulloss, DOT Board Member representing Wilson. “With the completion of the Lee Campus along the corridor, this project will create a progressive roadway designed to meet the needs of the community. The DOT review process showed a strong need for improvements on U.S. 301 and I look forward to the possibilities to come along the corridor.”
The project will add a raised median, sidewalks, pedestrian crosswalks and improve the storm water infrastructure along a 1.2 mile section of U.S. 301, from Black Creek Road to Lipscombe Road. Previously, the project area was anticipated to be from Martin Luther King Boulevard to Lipscombe Road, but city officials had continued to seek additional funding.
Most of the money will be spent on infrastructure, like drainage systems under the ground. The new infrastructure will eliminate the open ditches and other area of concern along this section of the highway.
The NCDOT action also meant that state transportation officials will oversee the project once the design phase is complete next year.
A community meeting will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 5:30 p.m. at the City of Wilson Operations Center. Preliminary designs will be shown during the meeting and the public will have an opportunity to ask questions.
Wilson Homeowners Now Save More On Flood Insurance
New city rating means 25% discounts on policies
Wilson property owners are now qualified for hundreds of dollars of savings on flood insurance policies, thanks to an improved city rating.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency recently notified Mayor Bruce Rose that FEMA has now rated the city a Class 5 in its Community Rating System (CRS) for floodplain management.
The new classification means that Wilson property owners qualify for up to a 25% discount when they purchase flood insurance for their homes, businesses or other locations. Average savings will be $80-$370, depending on the locations of properties, according to FEMA.
“This is great news,” said Mayor Rose, “And I want to thank all the city staff and citizens for their hard work to make this possible.”
CRS is a voluntary program within the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that ranks participating cities and counties on a 1-10 scale, 1 being the best, for their efforts to reduce property losses due to flooding.
A committee of city staff and volunteers, including realtors, insurance agents and business people, worked for more than a year to update the city’s floodplain management plan. Their efforts were rewarded this summer with the ranking being improved from Class 6.
The committee is continuing to work to increase community awareness of the dangers of flooding both to property and people’s lives.
More than 800 Wilson buildings, including 680 homes, are located in the 100-year floodplain (the area that has a 1-percent chance of flooding every year). They are valued at more than $350 million, including contents. Yet less than 30 percent of these properties are covered by flood insurance, the city’s survey determined.
Most homeowners’ policies do not cover flood damage. Owners need to determine whether their properties are at risk and discuss with their agents whether they should purchase policies.
For more information, visit www.wilsonnc.org/development-services/flood-information/
Merck Foundation grant will complete Lake Wilson trail
September 20, 2016
Visitors to Lake Wilson will soon be able to walk a trail completely around the lake, thanks to a grant from the Merck Foundation.
Kelly Brna, Merck-Wilson Plant Manager and Rob Ferrell, Merck-Wilson Community Outreach Lead presented a check for $50,000 to the Wilson City Council during its meeting Thursday night.
The money will be used to improve and complete a walking trail around the lake, including construction of a bridge that will connect the north and south shores. The trail will pass through the disc golf course on the north shore.
“The City of Wilson is extremely grateful to Merck and its employees for this donation to improve recreation opportunities,” said Wilson Mayor Bruce Rose. “Merck has shown time and again to be a great corporate partner with the Wilson community.”
Employees from Merck’s Wilson plant will provide some of the manpower to clear brush and debris. Volunteers will also help build a gravel pathway. The path is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.
“The overriding goal of Merck Wilson’s Community Outreach Program is to improve the quality of life and the environment in the surrounding area,” said Merck-Wilson Plant Manager Kelley Brna. “We are doing this by leveraging Merck’s financial generosity and the site’s human capital to strengthen our relationship and involvement in the community.”
Once complete, the trail will allow people to park in the lots off Lake Wilson Road and walk a circuit of a little over two miles.
A city-funded survey in 2009 found city residents wanted more places for walking and other passive recreational amenities. The city’s recreation staff has been working to improve walking trails in several city locations, including Lake Wilson, but this donation of both money and volunteer manpower is expected to help finish this project.
Merck & Co., Inc. is a global healthcare company headquartered in Kenilworth, N.J., and operating in more than 140 countries. It employs around 68,000 people worldwide.
Established in 1957, Merck’s Foundation is funded entirely by the company and is its chief source of funding support for both eligible nonprofit organizations and innovative programs that are aligned with two focus areas, health and community. The Foundation added a Neighbor of Choice program in the 1990s that targets communities where Merck has facilities. Its grants are intended to promote a healthier society and preserve the environment.
Greenlight service to Pinetops
During its September 15 meeting, the Wilson City Council voted not to request review of the August 10 decision by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and to terminate Greenlight’s service agreement with the Town of Pinetops. Before adopting the motion to discontinue service, Council Members expressed their regret that state law prevents Greenlight from serving our neighbors in Pinetops.
The court decision reversed the earlier FCC preemption of state law that allowed Greenlight, among other providers, to expand service. As a result of the action by the court, Greenlight must terminate the service agreement with the Town of Pinetops and cease providing services outside of Wilson County. Included in the Council’s motion was instructions to provide Pinetops Greenlight customers with as much notice as possible of the termination in service.
We’ve heard from Wilson County residents who want Greenlight service in areas we do not currently serve. Greenlight service is available to every piece of property within the Wilson city limits. Other areas in Wilson County may have service if the area is densely populated or on the same service line needed to connect public schools. Probably the most important consideration is if the broadband infrastructure is needed to deliver advanced meter functions to Wilson Energy customers. As we continue to deploy more smart meters to Wilson Energy customers, we expect to be able to offer Greenlight service in those areas.
Since Greenlight is a public utility, we are careful in taking on debt to fund expansions. We pay for all expansions from our operating funds, limiting how quickly we can expand to the remaining areas of the county.
It’s the ultimate compliment to have so many people requesting Greenlight service. Rest assured we will continue our growth within Wilson County as allowed by state law.
See the Greenlight Pinetops page for more information and recent media coverage.
Wilson Parks and Recreation Department Recognized During National Observance
Wilson is joining cities and towns nationwide in July in celebrating their parks and recreation departments for their effect on health and quality of life.
Thursday night the Wilson City Council honored Recreation Director David Lee and several employees with the reading of a proclamation for National Parks and Recreation Month. He highlighted several new programs offered in the last few years, including adult kickball, golf camp, gymnastics camp and aqua Zumba. The economic impact of Gillette Athletic Complex was also highlighted, bringing more than 25 state, regional and national tournaments to Wilson each year and adding $3 million in tourism revenue to Wilson’s restaurants and hotels
Improvements are underway to several city parks, including Lamm Park, Five Points Park, Cavalier Terrace Park and Lake Wilson Park. Renovations completed or underway this year include walking trails added to Lake Wilson Park, basketball court resurfacing at Warren Street Park and walking trails at Lane Street Park.
Mayor Bruce Rose said that the city’s recreation program helps build an active, healthier community by promoting lifelong involvement in athletics. Wilson has people of all ages involved in its programs, the mayor noted.
Parks are also key to the city’s economic health, he said. Parks increase property values, increase tourism and help attract new businesses.
The city has been promoting its recreation programs and facilities this month on its social media sites.
The National Recreation and Parks Association has been promoting July as the nation’s official Park and Recreation Month. In 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives officially mandated July as “Park and Recreation Month.” Hundreds of park and recreation agencies will celebrate with their communities this July.
Various research studies are confirming that community parks and recreation, green space and time outdoors is critical for creating healthy, active and sustainable communities. Parks and recreation services are vital for our communities—from protecting open space and natural resources, to helping fight obesity, to providing activities and resources for all walks of life.
We just ‘Can’t Stop the Wilson Parks & Rec Feeling’ during #ParksandRecMonth here in Wilson, N.C.
We’re celebrating all the ways our Parks and Recreation staff and these local, community resources add value to our daily lives. #Can’tStopTheFeeling #WilsonNC
Click or tap any section title to collapse or expand it.Parks and Recreation Presentation
Follow the link to see the Parks and Recreation Month City Council presentation.
City Council approves 2016-17 budget
June 17, 2016
Most homeowners will pay less in city, county taxes next year
The Wilson City Council has adopted the city’s 2016-17 budget, which was balanced with a “revenue-neutral” tax rate.
At its meeting Thursday, June 16, Council unanimously voted for the budget that will pay for city services for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
The budget is balanced with a property tax rate of 55.5 cents per $100, a change from the current 51 cents. But the new rates will be based on new, lower property values so most people will pay less in city and county property taxes next year.
Here’s an example of how it will work. The median-priced home in Wilson County last year sold for $130,000, according to Zillow.com. That property owner paid $669.50 in city taxes, $949 in county taxes, or a total of $1,618.50.
The countywide property revaluation, approved by Wilson County commissioners in December 2015, dropped property values inside Wilson by an average of 7.23 percent. So that $130,000 home was revalued at $120,549 and the 2017 taxes will be $669.05 city, $880 county, for a total of $1549.05, or almost $70 in savings.
A caveat – your results may vary. Some properties lost more value than the average while others held steady or even gained value. But on average, most Wilson property owners will pay less in taxes next year.
Tax bills will be mailed to property owners by September and will be due by January 2017.
The proposed budget is also the first to include a full year of lowered residential electric rates. The sale of the city’s share of nuclear and coal power plants was not completed in time for the 2015-16 budget, but Council was able to lower residential electric rates by nearly 18 percent last fall.
So far, the average Wilson Energy customer has been saving $62 per month. Savings are greatest for those who heat with electricity. The proposed budget maintains those same lower rates through at least summer 2017.
Other highlights of the proposed budget include:
- A $1 increase to the monthly water fee and a $2 increase in the sewer fee.
- A 51-cent increase in the stormwater fee, an increase requested in April by a citizens-led Stormwater Committee to help pay for some needed drainage projects.
- A $25-per-year increase in vehicle registrations (up from $5 to $30). The new registration option would increase fees for vehicles within the city limits by $25-per-year (up from $5 to $30) and was proposed as an option for City Council to consider in lieu of a streets bond that has been discussed for several years. These increased revenues, by law, would be earmarked for street paving and improvements and would provide a continuous revenue stream to implement an ongoing street maintenance program.
- No additional city personnel.
- No raises for city employees before the results of the annual audit are presented in October. This has become the city’s standard practice in recent years – to check the city’s financial status before committing to any raises. Raises have also been merit-based in recent years with no across-the-board guarantees.
Wilson Energy Tops $10 Million Savings in Residential Electric Costs
Collective savings continues to grow following September 2015 rate decrease
Wilson Energy residential customers recently reached a milestone — $10 million in savings since a historic rate decrease last fall.
The Wilson City Council voted in August 2015 to lower rates nearly 18 percent for residential customers, the largest rate cut in history. The rate decrease was made possible by the sale of power plants owned by North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency (NCEMPA), the city of Wilson’s wholesale power provider.
Wilson approved the largest decrease in rates among all the NCEMPA cities, and savings began in September 2015. In April, the collective savings reached $10 million and continues to grow every day.
Average monthly utility bills have decreased by $62 since the rate decrease was enacted.
“For years, the City Council searched for a solution to our electric utility costs,” said City Councilman Donald Evans, who also serves as the secretary of the NCEMPA Board of Commissioners. “Until recently, we didn’t have any feasible options to reduce the wholesale cost of power. We were incredibly pleased to be a part of the historic $1.2 billion NCEMPA transaction that resulted in passing along this savings to Wilson Energy customers.”
Mayor Bruce Rose said, “We are excited the electric rate decrease amounts to real savings for our customers here in Wilson. We’re pleased to be putting money back in people’s pockets. I know it makes a real difference.”
Cuts in commercial electric rates are also helping the business community, Ryan Simons, president of the Wilson Chamber of Commerce, told the City Council Thursday. “On behalf of all our members and small businesses, I say thank you.”
Wilson Energy customers can see the running total at www.wilsonnc.org/10million. They also can determine how much they have saved by using the calculator on the site. There are also tips for saving even more money through energy efficiency and other programs.