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Arbor Day Program Set Friday, March 17
The City of Wilson’s official Arbor Day celebration will be Friday, March 17, beginning at 3 p.m. at 1301 W. Nash Street.
Mayor Bruce Rose will help with the ceremonial planting of a tree at the park.
Wilson was one of the first N.C. cities to have been recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation for effective urban forest management. The city now has had that honor for 35 consecutive years.
The city also received a Tree City USA Growth Award for demonstrating environmental improvement and higher level of tree care.
2017 Human Relations Awards
Epps chosen for Humanitarian of the Year Award
The Wilson Human Relations Commission gave its highest honor to someone who is helping other women escape domestic violence and build new, better lives.
DuWanda S. Epps was presented with the Paul Lee Stevens Humanitarian Award, given annually to those that have given unselfishly to help those of the neediest in our community.
The award was one of several during the 47th Human Relations Awards, held Feb. 24 at the Darden Alumni Center. More than 200 people attended the dinner.
Ms. Epps is the creator of Women Rebuilding & Transforming, a long term program of life coaching services, Human Relations Officer Renee Smith said. The goal is to help women rebuild their lives after being abused, battered or moving out of a shelter to begin a new life.
One of Ms. Epps’ nomination letters said, in part, “in my opinion Ms. Epps has been a humanitarian for a long time … she has shown compassion and touches the lives of the less fortunate … she helps families see there is hope.”
Other nominees were Matt Mercer and Jesse Raudales.
Other 2017 Human Relations Award winners were:
Good Neighbor Award to John Lucas, who organized an effort to repair a neighborhood basketball court at Warren Street Park. When the court reopened, Lucas also organized a “Park Ball Day” in September 2016 that included basketball games between police officers and the youth of the Daniels Hill community.
Other nominees were the B.U.D.S. Foundation, Castonable Hooks, Calvin Jones and the Wilson Dynamic Leadership Class.
Community Spirit Award to the Wilson Luncheon Lions Club, which was honored for several community service projects, including creating the Home Run for Hunger canned food drive supporting all of Wilson’s food pantries after Hurricane Matthew. The club also organized a luncheon in October 2016 for all the county’s first responder agencies.Other nominees were the B.U.D.S. Foundation, Dee’s House, Dong’s Martial Arts School of Wilson and Greenfield School Chick-fil-A Leader Academy.
Inspirational Volunteer Award to Jeremy Munn, who has volunteered with the N.C. Whirligig Festival for several years, coordinated the Whirli-Kidz Zone, and implemented safety protocols for “Lost Parents.”
Other nominees were Alice Browder, Lesia T. Davis, Ruby Gorham, Imani Morgan and evangelist Annie Lou Perry.
Community Initiative Award to Priscilla Morello, who helped establish Seeds of Hope, a family outreach program at Vick Elementary School for students, families and staff. Seeds of Hope includes many workshops and programs throughout the year intended to help students succeed in school and life.
Other nominees were Eric Davis and Tonchelle Renee Lucas.
Youth on the Move Award was given to Hunt High School Air Force JROTC, which volunteers at Special Olympics, the Back to School Fair, the Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day ceremonies, the Christmas Parade, the Whirligig Festival and the SPOT Wrestling Tournament. The group has also sponsored several charitable events for the American Cancer Society and Hurricane Matthew victims.
Other nominees were Breannon Mackenzie Council, Brittany Hinnant, Katherine Ann Taylor, Grayson Johnson Thorne and Ian Thomas Walston.
The nomination period for the 2018 awards will begin in November. Go to WilsonNC.org and search for “humanitarian awards” for more information.
Celebrating city engineers during Engineers Week
February 23, 2017
This week is Engineers Week, an international effort to celebrate how engineers make a difference in the world and bring to life the engineering profession for kids. The City of Wilson is fortunate to have talented engineers on staff to design our utilities infrastructure, build and maintain roadways, and bring expertise to many city projects.
We’re featuring one of our city engineering professionals, Tim Farmer, Assistant Director of Public Works. We talked with Tim about why he chose engineering as a career.
Did you always want to be an engineer?
Tim: I grew up on a small, family-operated farm in Wilson County. As a little boy, I enjoyed fixing equipment and taking things apart to build them back. I always knew I wanted to work in a science or math field. I thought I wanted to work in agriculture research, but a class in surveying led me to consider roadway construction.
I graduated from N.C. State with a degree in agriculture engineering. I worked briefly at Bridgestone right after college before accepting a job at the N.C. Department of Transportation as a roadway inspector. In that job I was responsible for all aspects of highway construction. I came to the City of Wilson in 2000 as a construction inspector for new development. I was responsible for building streets in areas of new development. Less than a year later, I was promoted to civil engineer. In that position, I was involved in site plan review and supervised the traffic and parking division. After several years, I was promoted to division manager for environmental services. Now I am assistant director of public works, responsible for environmental services, fleet maintenance, mass transit and the Wilson Industrial Air Center.
What projects have been most memorable?
Tim: Two projects especially stand out while I was at DOT – widening Forest Hills Road from two lanes to five lanes and building the first phase of the 264 bypass, including two bridges. One of my first projects as the City of Wilson civil engineer was the downtown streetscape project from Nash Street to Pender Street. We moved the utilities from overhead to underground, replaced the sidewalk, added new curb and gutter, new asphalt and lighting. I also assisted the former Director of Public Services, Deborah Boyette, with the renovation of the Wilson Train Station, including construction of the parking lot on Lodge Street for the train station.
What advice do you give a kid considering an engineering profession?
First, take your education very seriously. If you are good at math and science, or any subject; keep getting better. Don’t be deterred when the work gets hard – stay with it. Believe in yourself and your ability and continue to challenge yourself. Be willing to ask for help and ask questions.
Look for opportunities for internships. I had several internships in college, including spending a summer with the Wilson County Cooperative Extension. Internships help steer you in the direction of what really interests you. And they provide an opportunity to earn workplace experience.
For more information on engineering as a profession or Engineers Week, visit http://www.discovere.org/
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.
Merrimont Park closed through September
January 18, 2017
Merrimont Park will be temporarily closed through September to complete a stormwater project. The project will reduce flooding in Hominy Creek and improve water quality along the stream.
While Merrimont Park is closed, please visit another of our city parks – the entire list of Wilson parks is on our website: http://www.wilsonnc.org/parks-and-recreation/parks-shelters/
City offices closed during Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday
City of Wilson offices, including the customer service business office and recreation centers, will be closed Monday, Jan. 16, for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.
Trash and recycling pickups normally scheduled for Monday will be picked up Tuesday, Jan. 17. Tuesday routes will likewise be delayed one day.
Any questions about environmental services may be answered at 399-2485.
Anyone wanting to pay a bill have three options Monday:
- Doing so online atWilsonNC.org;
- Using the automated system at 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 399-2200.
All emergency services will operate on normal schedules.
Winter Weather Updates
UPDATE: January 9, 2017 at 6 p.m.
All city offices will operate on a normal schedule tomorrow with the exception of the transit system, which will run on a two-hour delay. Wilson Transit routes will begin at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.
Environmental Services will run Monday routes on Tuesday and will run Tuesday routes on Wednesday. Tuesday routes may be slightly delayed depending on weather conditions.
Street crews continued work today, focusing on secondary roads. Most city-maintained streets were cleared today but some icy spots remain. Please use caution when driving during nighttime hours as refreezing will occur and conditions will be dangerous.
UPDATE: January 8, 2017 at 6 p.m.
City administrative offices, customer service center and recreation facilities will be closed on Monday. Solid waste collection for Monday is postponed until later in the week. Transit will not run on Monday.
Streets crews worked throughout the weekend to clear main thoroughfares. Sunday, crews worked during all daylight hours to plow street and treat areas with brine. The sunshine helped with melting today but any icy or wet areas are expected to refreeze during tonight’s frigid temperatures. Crews will be out again on Monday to assess conditions. Travel during nighttime hours will be treacherous. We continue to urge residents to stay off of the roads in the evening and early morning hours.
Several videos were posted today on the city’s social media accounts showing crews clearing streets. Videos can be viewed on the city’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WilsonNC/
UPDATE: January 6, 2017 at 5 p.m.
The National Weather Service in Raleigh is forecasting three to four inches of snow and some sleet for Wilson, beginning around 8 p.m. Friday. The weather system should move through Wilson by noon on Saturday, but extremely cold temperatures will make travel hazardous through early next week. Southeastern Wilson County could have a small amount of freezing rain.
The Streets Department is asking Wilson residents not to park on the street during this weekend’s winter storm. Crews need access to as much of the street as possible to clear snow.
The Customer Service Center will be closed on Saturday, Jan. 7 due to the expected hazardous road conditions. Bills can be paid conveniently from home when the customer service center is closed. Customers can pay bills online at www.WilsonNC.org or using the automated system at 399-2200. There is also a dropbox at the customer service center on Nash Street that can be used at any time, day or night.
The Wilson Transit System will not operate on Saturday.
All Parks and Recreation facilities will close at 5 p.m. on Friday and remain closed on Saturday. All youth and adult recreation programs are cancelled for Friday and Saturday.
UPDATE: January 6, 2017 at noon
The Customer Service Center will be closed on Saturday, Jan. 7 due to the expected hazardous road conditions.
Bills can be paid conveniently from home when the customer service center is closed. Customers can pay bills online at www.WilsonNC.org or by using the automated system at 252-399-2200. There is also a dropbox at the customer service center on Nash Street that can be used at any time, day or night.
Customer service may be reached during business hours at 252-399-2200.
January 5, 2017
Arctic air will arrive in Wilson on Friday, followed by what’s forecast to be between 6-8 inches of snow overnight and Saturday.
Wilson city and county employees were preparing Thursday for the arrival of the storm and to ensure public safety throughout the winter weather.
Meanwhile, residents should take steps to protect themselves, their homes and animals.
The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather warning and winter storm watch for Wilson County. The arctic air will move in during the day Friday with a sleet-snow mix of precipitation expected to start in the evening and snow continuing through mid-afternoon on Saturday.
The most recent projections have Wilson and Nash counties receiving 6-8 inches of snow, the Triangle 4-6 inches and the Triad 2-3 inches.
Overnight temperatures are expected to fall into the teens Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, and daytime temperatures are not going to be above freezing. This is expected to make roads hazardous.
“Roads will be slick from snow and/or black ice as the system progresses,” said Gordon Deno, Wilson County emergency manager. “If you do not absolutely need to be out, stay home.”
N.C. Department of Transportation maintenance crews began pre-treating roads in Wilson County, including some major routes in the city. Typically, they spread salt brine, a mix of salt and water which prevents ice from forming and adhering to road surfaces.
City of Wilson crews were also preparing for the wintery mix. The city has 1,000 tons of salt on hand for clearing ice off roads. Crews have already put plows on trucks, loaded salt spreaders and otherwise gotten ready to go.
Vehicles have been gassed, equipment restocked and batteries recharged. The city will be monitoring conditions throughout the weekend and responding as necessary.
Wilson police ask that people limit their driving, or avoid it altogether if possible, once the wintry mix starts.
Additional preparedness tips are available at: www.ready.gov/winter-weather
Preparing for power outages
Widespread power outages are not expected as part of this storm, if precipitation falls as mostly snow. We encourage everyone to be prepared just in case of a power outage.
Report a Wilson Energy outage by going to wilsonnc.org/outage via a smartphone or other device with a data plan. You will need to know the phone number associated with the account or the account number. You can also use that webpage to see where other outages have been reported on our system.
Wilson Energy customers may also call 399-2444 to report an outage.
Keep a battery-powered radio, flashlights and a supply of new batteries on hand in case of an emergency.
Have extra blankets available.
Maintain a supply of drinking water on hand – at least one gallon per person per day, plus extra for pets.
Keep a supply of non-perishable food items and a manual can opener.
Turn lights and appliances off to prevent overloading circuits once power is restored.
If you lose power, keep faucets dripping to prevent water pipes from freezing.
Check on elderly or disabled friends and neighbors.
Never use a charcoal grill inside your home to cook or heat. Burning charcoal creates carbon monoxide gas which could lead to death.
When using a generator, please follow all safety precautions including disconnecting your electric service to protect yourself and Wilson Energy crews.
Tips for protecting water pipes
When temperatures are very cold, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing.
Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage. Try to keep crawl spaces and vents closed, particularly in areas where pipes could be exposed to cold air.
Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
If you will be going away during cold weather, keep the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer’s or installer’s directions.
Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break. If the water cannot be shut off, consider installing a faucet cover or even wrapping the hose bib in a towel.
Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a “pipe sleeve” or installing UL-listed “heat tape,” “heat cable,” or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼” of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.
If you think that your pipes have frozen, please contact the City of Wilson dispatch at 296-3403 during the day, or 399-2424 at night to have your water valve shut off. This may prevent a high water bill from an uncontrollable water leak, including your backflow preventer. This will allow your plumber to assess the concern and provide any necessary repairs.
Protect pets from extreme cold
Animals don’t tolerate freezing temperatures any better than people do. The U.S. Humane Society offers this advice:
Keep pets indoors and warm.
No matter what the temperature is, windchill can threaten a pet’s life. Pets are sensitive to severe cold and are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia during extreme cold snaps. Exposed skin on noses, ears and paw pads can quickly freeze and suffer permanent damage.
Take precautions if your pet spends a lot of time outside. Outdoor animals must be protected by a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably but small enough to hold in his/her body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.
Pets who spend time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy. Routinely check your pet’s water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen. Use plastic food and water bowls; when the temperature is low, your pet’s tongue can stick and freeze to metal.
Warm engines in parked cars can attract cats and small wildlife, who may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car’s hood to scare them away before starting your engine.
The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet’s feet. Wipe all paws with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates his/her mouth.
Avoid antifreeze poisoning. Wipe up spills and keep antifreeze (and all household chemicals) out of reach.
Tree, leaves pickups continue through mid-January
The City of Wilson’s Environmental Services department is now picking up Christmas trees while also collecting the last of the loose leaves.
City residents have until Jan. 15 to leave both trees and loose leaves at the curb. Neither should be left where they block the street, gutters, sidewalks or utility boxes.
Christmas trees must be stripped of decorations and lights. They are grounded up and made into mulch, and anything artificial interferes with that process.
Trees are picked up as quickly as possible, but people who do not want to wait can carry their trees to the county landfill, off N.C. 42 east of Wilson, for free disposal.
After Jan. 15, leaves will need to be in containers, such as tarps, bags or bins marked “Compost.”
Any questions about environmental services may be answered at 399-2485.
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.”
Holidays affect City offfices over two weeks
The Christmas and New Year’s holidays will close City of Wilson offices at various times over the next two weeks.
All administrative offices, the customer service business office and recreation centers, will be closed Friday, Dec. 23; Monday, Dec. 26; and Monday, Jan. 2, 2017.
The customer service business office will also be closed Saturdays, Dec. 24 and 31.
People needing to pay bills have several options when the customer service center is closed. You may pay bills online at www.WilsonNC.org or using the automated system at 399-2200. There is also a dropbox at the customer service center on Nash Street that can be used at any time, day or night.
Customer service may be reached during business hours at 399-2200.
Garbage and recycling pickups will also be affected the next two weeks. There will be no Environmental Services on either Monday, Dec. 26, or Monday, Jan. 2, 2017. Both weeks the city crews will pick up Monday routes on Tuesday, and then Tuesday routes on Wednesday.
Thursday and Friday routes will be on their regular schedules throughout the period.
Christmas tree pickups begin Tuesday, Dec. 27, and continue through Jan. 13. Trees must be stripped of decorations and lights. They should be left behind the curb, not blocking the street, the curb or utility boxes.
Trees are picked up as quickly as possible, but people who do not want to wait can carry their trees to the county landfill, off N.C. 42 east of Wilson, for free disposal.
Any questions about environmental services may be answered at 399-2485.
All emergency services, including police, fire and rescue, will operate on normal schedules. Always call 911 to reach emergency services.
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 programmonday-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.”
Thanksgiving Affects City Schedules
City of Wilson services will be impacted this weekend by the Thanksgiving holiday.
All business offices and recreation centers will be closed Thursday and Friday, Nov. 24-25. The customer service business office will also be closed Saturday, Nov. 26.
There will be no garbage or recycling pickups on Thursday. All Thursday routes were run Wednesday. Environmental Services resumes its usual services on Friday.
Wilson Transit service will not operate Thursday. Regular routes resume Friday.
All emergency services will operate on normal schedules throughout the weekend. Every office will be on a regular schedule as of Monday. Nov. 28.
Anyone wanting to pay a bill over the weekend has three options:
- Doing so online at WilsonNC.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.
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.
Leaf Season Under Way; Please Keep Stormdrains Clear
Leaf Season is under way in the City of Wilson, the time each year when Environmental Services operates a vacuum truck to remove loose yard waste.
City residents may now pile leaves at the curb, not in the street, for pickup. Please do not block sidewalks, gutters or meter boxes with leaves, pine straw and tree limbs.
Loose leaf season typically ends around Jan. 15 each winter, but that date could be adjusted based on the amount of leaves and when they fall.
The City’s Stormwater Division asks residents to take special care to keep yard debris away from storm drains (catch basins). Keeping them out of the street will prevent them from getting washed into the storm drain system or clogging up the drain itself. As the catch basins get clogged up this could lead to potential localized flooding, especially in low-lying areas.
Also an abundance of leaves or grass clippings in the streams contribute nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous as they decay, which lead to the growth of algae and aquatic weeds in the waterways. Increased algae growth is observed as green algae blooms or “scums” on lakes and ponds, which could in turn lead to fish kills.
Thanks in advance for helping us keep our waterways clean!
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/
Hurricane Matthew Updates
UPDATE: October 10 at 8:45 p.m.
Here’s the latest news from city operations during Hurricane Matthew clean-up:
NEW today: water levels in reservoirs are slowly starting to drop, all city streets are now open (a few DOT streets are closed) and damage assessment is underway. All dams are intact and operating as usual with the increased water flow.
All city streets are now open. DOT has closed Lake Wilson Road near the entrance to Lake Wilson Park (about a 200-yard stretch of road). Part of the roadway has washed away. Forest Hills and Downing is still closed.
Power has been restored to all Wilson Energy customers.
The damage assessment team was in the field Sunday and all day today. The latest count of damaged homes is 60. The team will be back out tomorrow to continue assessments. We’ve created an online form for residents to use to notify us of damage: http://www.wilsonnc.org/report-storm-damage/
Crews began picking up debris today. We’ve asked residents to put storm debris at the curb and we will pick up in the next 7-10 days.
Lake levels are stable and are continuing to slowly drop. Buckhorn and Lake Wilson peaked on Sunday and dams are intact at both reservoirs. Wiggins Mill peaked today and is very slowly starting to drop. The Wiggins Mill dam is intact. Any rumors of dams failing are false.UPDATE: October 9 at 11:15 a.m.Flooding is the biggest issue right now. Areas of concern are Lake Wilson and Wiggins Mill area. Lake Wilson is rising from a suspected dam breech upstream. Wilson PD are in the area and will begin evacuations if needed. Forest Hills Rd near Bill’s BBQ and Sheetz is flooded and not passable.Wilson Police Department and Wilson Fire/Rescue continue to urge people to stay off the roads. Traffic to see the flooding and damage is obstructing emergency personnel from doing their jobs.Power outages – crews worked through the night to restore power. We currently have less than 100 outages system-wide.Street closures – the city street closure map is being updated as quickly as possible: http://www.wilsonnc.org/street-closings/The NC DOT also has a map of roads closed in Wilson County:https://www.ncdot.gov/traffictravel/ (search for Wilson County). Currently parts of 264 and 301 are closed in both directions. Streets crews are evaluating damage and assessing streets conditions and tree debris. They are planning to begin debris removal tomorrow.Water and wastewater plants – wastewater plant is operating as usual. Water plants are also fine. Biggest area of concern is Wiggins Mill pump station. We’ve posted a video of the flooding earlier this morning.We will continue to post photos and videos of flooded areas. Please see the City’s Facebook page for the latest news.
UPDATE: October 8 at 5:15 p.m.
Major issue continues to be flooding. Fire and Police still experiencing high call volumes and are still helping with evacuations of flooded areas. So far we have evacuated about 80 people to Fike High School.
Power outages – currently have 198 outages from two incidents. Outages today have been cleared pretty quickly by Wilson Energy crews.
Street closures – Currently have 65 streets closed within the city limits. We’ve created a real-time map of closed streets: http://www.wilsonnc.org/street-closings/
Water treatment plant is operating normally. Wastewater treatment plant is experiencing heavy flow but under control.
Wilson Celebrates Public Power Week
Customer Appreciation event will be Thursday, Oct. 6
The City of Wilson will join more than 2,000 communities nationwide next week to recognize the importance of locally owned, operated electrical systems. Public Power Week will be Oct. 2-8. Events in Wilson will include Customer Appreciation Day, Thursday, Oct. 6.
“Wilson residents have had the benefits of public power for nearly 125 years,” Wilson Mayor Bruce Rose said. “When your neighbors are the ones responsible for keeping the lights on, you have higher reliability and get faster response in times in emergencies. I couldn’t be prouder of our Wilson Energy employees.”
Mayor Rose proclaimed Public Power Week during the Sept. 15 meeting of the Wilson City Council. Several Wilson Energy employees were recognized at that event. Next week the city’s social media pages will include postings about Public Power Week and include contests for Wilson Energy customers.
The public is also invited to the Customer Appreciation Day, Thursday, Oct. 6, 9 a.m.-noon, at the Customer Service Center, 208 Nash St. NE. Attendees will be able to enjoy free coffee and doughnuts, receive a free LED light bulb, and learn more about energy audits, load management, area lighting and outage reporting. There will also be drawings for door prizes.
More than 45 million people in the United States receive power from a publicly owned utility, including Los Angeles, Orlando and Portland, Ore. Statesville was the first public power community in North Carolina, illuminating its streets in 1889. But Wilson wasn’t far behind, generating electricity beginning in 1893. Today, more than 70 communities in North Carolina own and operate their own systems. Public power provides more than just reliable electricity, local customer service and prompt restoration after outages. It generates local jobs, helps recruit businesses and fosters strong communities. Public power communities know the specific needs of the community and can react quickly to new needs.
Public Power Week is an annual national event coordinated by the American Public Power Association in Washington, D.C. The association represents not-for-profit, community-owned electric utilities that power homes, businesses and streets in nearly 2,000 towns and cities, serving 48 million Americans. With no divided loyalties, these utilities are focused on a single mission — providing reliable electricity at a reasonable price, while protecting the environment. More at www.PublicPower.org.
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.
Extremely hot August causes Wilson Energy bills to rise
September 12, 2106
Many Wilson Energy customers are seeing higher bills this month due to one of the hottest Augusts on record.
The State Climate Office of North Carolina reports that August 2016 was the third warmest August since 1895. In Wilson, 25 days had high temperatures peaking over 90 degrees. The average statewide temperature was 78.3 degrees so there wasn’t much relief at night.
The heat caused air conditioners to work harder, which pushed up energy consumption. Wilson Energy customers are seeing higher bills for August as a result. A survey of residential customer bills finds that the average bill in August was $287.36, up from $251.33 in July.
Wilson Energy bills contain other services including water, sewer, trash, electric, and natural gas. In this case, the $36 difference in monthly bills is almost completely attributed to electricity use.
One small comfort – 2016 bills continue to be less than last year’s, due to lower electric rates. The average Wilson homeowner paid $294.84 in August 2015 despite more moderate temperatures.
Residents can reduce future bills by conserving energy. Here are some resources to consider:
1) Wilson Energy’s energy audit program, WilsonNC.org/wilson-energy/energy-s… or call 252-399-2415.
2) Wilson Energy’s voluntary load management program “Beat the Peak” where you can save $68 per year; call 252-399-2415.
3) The Weatherization Assistance Program offered in our region by WAGES NC. Information: 919-734-1178 ext. 240, WagesNC.org/programs/weatherization-haarp-program/
4) For other money saving tips please visit WilsonNC.org/wilson-energy/energy-saving-tips/
City of Wilson Offices Closed For Labor Day
City of Wilson offices, including the customer service business office and recreation centers, will be closed Monday, September 5, for the Labor Day holiday. There will be no trash or recycling pickups.
Environmental services returns to work Tuesday and will be collecting pickups normally scheduled for Mondays. Tuesday routes will be collected on Wednesday, September 7, and there will be no special pickups that day.
Any questions about environmental services may be answered at 399-2485.
The customer service office will reopen Tuesday, September 6. Anyone wanting to pay a bill before then has options:
• Doing so online at www.WilsonNC.org;
• Using the automated system at 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 399-2200.
Hurricane Season: Three things to help you prepare
August 29, 2016
Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30, but most storms hit North Carolina in early fall. There’s a few things you can do to keep your family safe when severe storms threaten.
Track and report electric outages
Wilson Energy customers can track and report electric outages from mobile devices through our new outage reporting system. http://www.wilsonnc.org/outage/ Customers can also report outages by calling 252-399-2444.
Don’t drive through flooded areas
Flooding is one of the leading causes of weather related fatalities, with more than half of deaths occurring in motor vehicles. Watch this short video to see how quickly flood waters can take over: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eI6mIlHKrVY
Build an emergency supply kit
If a major storm hits, your family may be without electricity or water. Officials recommend a supply kit with 72 hours of food, water and other needed supplies. See this link for tips to assemble your kit: https://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit
Follow the route with our Hurricane Tracker map, provided by the City of Wilson GIS Services: https://cowmaps.maps.arcgis.com
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.
Apply Now for All About Wilson: a Citizens Academy 2016
Free classes offer behind-the-scenes look at local services
WILSON- Applications are being accepted now for this year’s Citizens Academy class. Only 20 slots are available for the free classes, and sessions begin September 13th.
All About Wilson: a Citizens Academy gives participants a chance to see city government in a way that most people can’t; they see how essential services are delivered and who’s making the decisions that touch us every day.
Examples include a tour of Buckhorn Lake, Wilson’s fiber optic network, Fire and Rescue facilities and even our Police station. You get to talk with the people who make Wilson work.
The goal of the annual classes is to promote transparency in local government, create a dialogue with local residents and develop future leaders. Through lectures, hands-on activities and interaction, participants gain insight into their local government’s day-to-day activities.
“The more citizens understand the role of local government and what is does, the more likely they are to become involved in the affairs of the community,” said Mayor Bruce Rose. “This is our city and we want everyone in it to take an interest and volunteer to make it an even better place to live, work and raise a family.”
Classes begin September 13th and run a total of eight consecutive weeks. Participants are required to commit to one Tuesday evening per week. Dinner will be provided free of charge.
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.
Greenlight, WCC aim to train students for broadband jobs
Greenlight is working with Wilson Community College to train the next generation of workers for jobs in the rapidly expanding broadband industry.
The city-owned broadband system is partnering with WCC’s information technology department to create a training program in fiber optic systems. The first step will be a continuing-education course, but the goal would be a degree program and internships at Greenlight for WCC students.
The collaboration is a natural one, said Gene Scott, Greenlight’s General Manager Outside Plant.
Not only will Greenlight need new technicians to maintain its network but demand for skilled technicians as a whole will grow in the industry, he noted. “Wilson Community College is literally a few blocks up the street and the fit seems natural.”
A group of WCC students toured Greenlight in April. There they met with several Greenlight management employees and learned about the variety of jobs available in the industry, including design and engineering, communications, operations and marketing.
Students were able to get a behind-the-scenes look at the technical side of Greenlight’s network.
Scott is working with Kendra Faulkner, networking technology instructor in the Computer Technology Integration program at WCC, to plan the next steps in the collaboration.
Wilson Energy Celebrates Natural Gas Utility Workers’ Day
April 6, 2016
Wilson Energy’s natural gas employees were recognized this month for more than 13 years of safely providing clean, reliable and affordable natural gas.
The Natural Gas Department took part March 18 in the inaugural Natural Gas Utility Workers’ Day. This was a national effort to recognize people who work in the utility.
Wilson Energy used the occasion to celebrate 13 years of favorable system inspections. Wilson employs 25 people to manage a system serving nearly 15,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers.
All natural gas operators in the United States are federally regulated and must be inspected annually. The inspectors use a 28-page inspection report to inspect all facets of the gas operator’s system to make sure they are compliant to the Code of Federal Regulations. The inspection includes audits of records, meters, training sessions and crew visits.
Wilson’s natural gas system has passed the annual inspection with no violations for 13 years with the most recent favorable inspection in February 2016.
“We are very proud of the hard work done by our natural gas employees,” said Dathan Shows, chief operations officer for the city of Wilson. “Safety is our primary focus throughout Wilson Utilities, and it is always encouraging to have our efforts recognized so consistently by an independent agency.”
For the first time, two employees were selected as Natural Gas Department “Employees of the Year.” Their peers selected Tim Coley and Kevin Farmer as leaders who go above and beyond their job duties. Tim Coley is a utility locator who recently added water, sewer, electric and fiber utility location to his existing job as a natural gas locator. Coley can now assist other utilities with line location. Kevin Farmer is a gas line technician who adds mentoring new employees to his daily duties. Farmer is known as a positive, knowledgeable resource for new and younger team members.
Coley and Farmer were presented the awards by Joe Caster, gas distribution manager.
March 18 was chosen as Natural Gas Utility Workers’ Day in acknowledgment of the New London, Texas school explosion in 1937 that led to the widespread odorization of natural gas and an increased emphasis on safety.
Gary Farmer tops recipients at annual Human Relations Awards
Gary Farmer, a community leader for education for decades, was honored Friday, Feb. 25, with the Human Relations Commission’s highest honor.
Farmer was presented with the Paul Lee Stevens Humanitarian of the Year Award, given annually to an individual who has made a substantial improvement in our community.
Farmer was a long-time educator, coach and administrator at Eastern N.C. School for the Deaf. During the state’s financial troubles several years ago, Farmer was one of the most vocal organizers of the effort that averted a state shutdown of ENCSD.
He has been involved in many other community efforts. He currently is a member of the Wilson County Board of Education.
His nomination drew 10 letters of support from area organizations, said Human Relations Officer Renee Smith.
“The deaf and hearing impaired of Wilson consider Mr. Farmer a voice and advocate,” she said. “He is a key person in Wilson that has started projects, coordinated fundraisers and stood as an advocate during tough times.”
In accepting the award, Farmer said he had been blessed to be surrounded by strong support.
“It’s not about me. It’s about this group of people. In the big scope of things, it’s about Wilson,” he said.
Luther Jones was also nominated for the humanitarian award. Jones, retired from owning a family gas station, is known in the community for helping people in need with rent, bills and medications. He also gives children money as an incentive to do well in school and achieve higher grades
The award was given during the 45th annual Human Relations Awards Banquet at the Darden Alumni Center. Around 300 people attended the event, during which five other awards were presented.
Other award winners included:
- The Good Neighbor Award, given to James E. Haney. His nomination said he has volunteered in his community for more than 20 years including creating several annual events such a Youth Day and an Easter egg hunt. He also creates Christmas boxes for the elderly. Other nominees were Edward DeLeon, Daniel Gills Neighborhood Association, Charles Eric Jones Sr., Luther Jones and Willie Tomlin.
- The Community Spirit Award, given to the Chamber of Commerce’s Dynamic Leadership Class of 2015. The class raised more than $12,000 to take more than 200 students, teachers and parents from the Hattie Daniels Daycare Center to the N.C. Zoo. Other nominees were Positive Women Positive Results Inc., Wilson County Substance Abuse Coalition and Wilson YMCA.
- The Inspirational Volunteer Award, given to Mike Cannon. After the death of his son by a drug overdose, Cannon has worked to raise awareness for those battling addiction and their families. He has helped local law enforcement stock a drug that can help the survival rate of people who have overdosed on heroin.
- The Community Initiative Award, given to Marvette Coley. She started Positive Women Positive Results Inc., which helps teenage girls prepare for successful lives, including financial knowledge, college preparation, and health information. Other nominees were Donna Pridgen, Jacob Saunders, the Police Athletic League, Julia Newton and the Wilson Police Department.
- The Youth on the Move Award, given to Jordean Blazek-Guinan, a Fike High School student who has been involved in many volunteer efforts, particularly the St. Timothy’s Food Basket Ministry that supports local food pantries. Other nominees were Jessica Cooper, Explorer Post 557, Fike High School’s International Baccalaureate Class of 2016, Carolyn Jablonski, Taylor Jenkins, Bethany Ray. Denise Santiago-Juarez, Erika Staton and the Wilson Youth Council.
Spirit of NC Award recipients announced by United Way of North Carolina
Two Wilson organizations won statewide recognition this month from the United Way of North Carolina for having outstanding, creative employee campaigns.
Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations and the City of Wilson were each selected for the Spirit of North Carolina Award, presented during United Way’s annual statewide meeting and awards program in Pinehurst.
Both organizations also won the Nancy Sallenger Spirit Award from the United Way of Wilson County; those awards were presented Feb. 18.
“Bridgestone and the City of Wilson always find fun ways to inspire their employees,” said Judi Thurston, executive director of the United Way of Wilson County. “We are grateful for them and all the companies working to improve our community.”
Both companies sent a team to the statewide conference in Pinehurst on Feb. 10, 2016. They were joined by the staff of United Way of Wilson County for the awards ceremony.
The City of Wilson was also asked to present at the conference, and city employees shared details about what made their campaign successful. Speakers were Bonnie Gay, Terri Smith and Jerry Stancil, assisted by Dave Baumgartner, Tonya West and Matt Shaw.
They showed a video from the kickoff for the 2015 campaign, various city departments competing in a ‘80s lip-syncing contest. The city also had agency tours, and United Way agency directors spoke at department meetings. The city’s contribution topped $100,000 for the first time.
Bridgestone’s campaign included a challenge to increase its Leadership Circle, the group that each contributes $1,000 or more. They had a drawing for more than 100 prizes, plus they held a basketball tournament and a management lock-up amongst many other fun incentives that resulted in a record total of $421,734
Each year, the United Way of North Carolina recognizes and awards companies and organizations that have demonstrated strong community support through local United Way involvement. The Spirit of North Carolina Award celebrates the partnership of people working together to develop and implement innovative solutions for long-term community change.
Businesses, professional and non-profit organizations, governmental entities, healthcare and educational institutions – large and small – are nominated to receive the Spirit of North Carolina award because they are champions of change. They raise their voice to share the story of their community, volunteer their time and expertise, and invest their resources.
A team of 21 United Way leaders from across North Carolina judged 58 outstanding applications selecting 33 as winners. The established Seven Standards of Excellence, including volunteer culture, partnership with community to raise awareness of needs and foster a spirit of giving, leadership involvement, and campaign coordination are the criteria on which applications are judged.
City of Wilson Shining Star Awards
January 14, 2016 | Wilson city employees recognizes outstanding public service in 2015.
Wilson city employees have honored two Wilson police officers and two Wilson Energy workers for outstanding public service in 2015.
The City of Wilson’s Shining Stars awards were presented this month to Tyrone Nixon and Kevin Worrell if Wilson Energy and Officers John Logelfo and David Stancil.
The awards were created in 2011 to honor employees who go to great lengths to assist citizens. Employees can nominate coworkers, and the awards are decided by a committee of city employees.
Nixon and Worrell were chosen for the care they showed a 4-year-old boy. The two men were completing a work order when they saw the boy watching them from a window. From talking to the boy, they determined that he had been left alone for some time and was hungry.
The Wilson Energy workers notified the proper authorities and shared some food with the boy while they waited for help to arrive.
“Thankfully, they took ownership of the situation and prevented what could have been a tragedy,” said Thurman Lindsey of Wilson Energy, who nominated them for the award. “Kevin and Tyrone truly went above and beyond their call of duty.”
Officer Logelfo was among officers responding to a call about a man acting erratically on Ward Boulevard. The officer found the man painting words in the roadway and smelling of gasoline. As officers tried to move the man out of traffic, he pulled out a lighter and set his shirt on fire.
Officer Logelfo tackled the man and forced the flames out, saving the man from further injury and possibly saving his life, according to his nominator, Capt. Winston Harris. “Through all of this Logelfo, kept a positive attitude, was professional, communicated effectively and provided lifesaving efficient service.”
Officer Stancil organized a fishing tournament at Buckhorn Reservoir to benefit the Children’s Hunger Elimination of Wilson (CHEW).
Stancil worked for several months to organize the event, setting up sponsors and recruiting competitors. The tournament in August attracted 29 teams and raised nearly $4,000 for CHEW, which feeds school children during holidays and times when schools are closed.
Officer Angie Harrell, who nominated Stancil, wrote, “Officer Stancil should be commended for the amount of work he put into this event on his personal time. He represented the City of Wilson well to several companies outside of Wilson and has built relationships that will last with our local nonprofit.”
Wilson Corporate Park Named a Smart Site by ElectriCities
December 22, 2015 | The Smart Site designation guarantees the site is shovel-ready for new development.
The Wilson Corporate Park was recently named a Smart Site by ElectriCities of North Carolina. The Smart Site designation guarantees the site has met stringent requirements and is shovel-ready for new development. The site will now be marketed to growing businesses as a prime site for development in North Carolina.
“The Wilson Corporate Park offers first-class amenities and is currently home to many innovative companies,” said Grant Goings, Wilson City Manager. “With the Smart Sites designation, we add another feature to the park. Coupled with Wilson’s strong and supportive business climate, next-generation fiber through Greenlight, and the City’s highly-reliable electric system, the Wilson Corporate Park is an ideal location for new and expanding companies.”
“Wilson Corporate Park is the Southeast’s premiere industrial park along I-95,” said Jennifer Lantz, Wilson Economic Development Council Director. “Its location makes it ideal for manufacturers shipping products both nationally and globally. The location regionally means employers can draw from a larger labor force. The Smart Site designation enhances our ability to be globally competitive for industrial manufacturing and distribution projects.”
The Smart Sites program was created by ElectriCities in 2014 to assist member communities in preparing shovel-ready sites for economic development.
“In today’s competitive environment, it’s rare for a company to locate on an undeveloped property,” said Brenda Daniels, ElectriCities Economic Development Manager. “New and expanding companies expect existing buildings or a prepared, shovel-ready site to shorten the amount of time needed for construction. We created Smart Sites to help offer more shovel-ready property for economic development growth in NC Public Power communities.”
Achieving the Smart Sites designation is very competitive. Potential sites must meet specific requirements and undergo an extensive review process by site selection experts, including ECS Engineering and Creative EDC. Each site must have municipal electric service, water and sewer access within 500 feet and be within five miles of an interstate or interstate-quality highway.
Smart Sites are then marketed internationally by ElectriCities at numerous trade shows and industry events. Other Smart Sites properties are located in Tarboro and Statesville.
Wilson Energy Employees spread cheer at Longleaf
December 17, 2015 | Wilson Energy employees are helping make Christmas a little brighter.
City employees delivered presents this week that were purchased for patients at Longleaf Neuro-Medical Treatment Center. The carefully wrapped packages will be distributed to patients on Christmas Eve.
This marks at least the 18th year Wilson Energy employees have collected presents for Longleaf patients.
“It’s truly been a blessing to partner with the City of Wilson on this,” said Carlos Burks, Longleaf volunteer services director. “Our residents really enjoy it.”
The holiday tradition began from less than cheery roots. Wilson Energy employees used to keep a jar in the office and whenever anyone came in to the office in a bad mood or said anything negative, that person needed to throw some change into the jar, said Annie Ruth Woodard of Wilson Energy.
Once the jar began to fill up, “we knew that we couldn’t spend it on ourselves,” she said.
One employee had a sister who worked at Longleaf and the decision was made to buy presents for the patients. Longleaf is a long-term care facility serving senior citizens, many of whom do not have family members living close by.
Initially the city employees served about 10 patients, but now it’s more than two dozen. Patients provide lists of clothing, food and other items they would like, and Wilson Energy employees try to meet every request. Employees donate all the money used. No city or utility funds are used.
The gifts are just what residents need for a happier holiday, said Stevie Cherry, director of professional services. “They know they are not forgotten.”
Wilson City Council Approves Greenlight Service to Pinetops
December 11, 2015 | City will provide high-speed, reliable broadband service to neighboring community
The Wilson City Council approved Greenlight service to the Town of Pinetops at its meeting on Dec. 10. The approval will allow high-speed, reliable Greenlight service to Town of Pinetops’ residents, offering Internet service that is 50 times faster than the service currently available.
Construction will begin immediately with Greenlight service expected to be available in Pinetops by April 2016.
“Current providers haven’t made significant upgrades to our broadband service through the years,” said Brenda Harrell, Pinetops Interim Town Manager. “They haven’t found us worth the investment. Through this partnership with Greenlight and our neighbors in Wilson, we are able to meet a critical need for our residents. It’s an exciting time for us in Pinetops.”
The Pinetops Town Council approved its inter-local agreement on Dec. 1.
Wilson and Pinetops have a long history of working together as Wilson Energy has provided electric service to Pinetops since 1972. Pinetops is located in Edgecombe County and has a population of 1,358.
“The Town of Pinetops has been a loyal electric customer of ours for more than 40 years,” said Wilson Mayor Bruce Rose. “They are our neighbors and our friends. They have asked for our help and we are able to lend a hand, so that’s what we intend to do.”
Pinetops had first requested Greenlight service in 2010, but state legislation passed in 2011 limited Greenlight’s service territory to the Wilson County limits. After the Federal Communications Commission’s ruling in February 2015 permitting service beyond Wilson County, talks resumed between the two parties and agreement was reached in December 2015.
“The mission of Greenlight has always been to support the economic health of our community, enhance the quality of life of our citizens and customers, and improve the delivery of City services,” said Grant Goings, Wilson City Manager.
Goings continued, “The Wilson community has never been defined as only the corporate limits of Wilson. In developing our infrastructure, we have always considered the greater need of the community and how our investments in self-reliance would benefit the region. Wilson provides water, electricity, natural gas and wastewater treatment services to neighboring communities. Broadband is the next piece of critical infrastructure that will improve the health of our regional economy.”
The decision to provide Greenlight service to Pinetops at this time was based on the long history of partnership between the two communities, the proximity of the smart grid infrastructure to Pinetops, and the density of households in Pinetops.
“Our commitment to improving the delivery of City services through our smart grid initiatives has made broadband service to Pinetops possible, as the same fiber that supports the smart grid system will be leveraged to deliver next generation broadband,” said Will Aycock, Greenlight General Manager. “Offering Greenlight service to Pinetops is an opportunity to equip our neighbors with the critical infrastructure needed in the 21st century, and help enhance their quality of life by expanding their connection to the global community.”
Formed in 2008, Greenlight is the City of Wilson’s community owned fiber optic network. In 2013, the City of Wilson became North Carolina’s first Gigabit City when Greenlight responded to the FCC’s Gigabit City challenge and began providing gigabit residential service. This means it is possible for customers to receive and send up to a billion bits of data per second. Today, Greenlight provides broadband infrastructure to residents, businesses, and institutions in Wilson and the surrounding region.
Lower Rates, More Money in Our Community
Wilson Energy has lowered residential electric rates by 17.6%, beginning with every electric meter read after September 1. The average customer will pay about $25 less each month based on typical energy consumption and some people will save even more. Commercial and industrial customers will also enjoy lower electric costs (rate reductions for these customers will vary).
Overall, Wilson Energy electric rates are now competitive with other regional providers.
$16 Million Savings Annually = More Money In Our Community
Lowering our electric rates will save Wilson Energy customers nearly $16 million per year. That’s money that will stay in our community and help support local businesses.
Savings Calculator: See Exactly How Much You Save
A new Savings Calculator on the City of Wilson website will allow each residential customer to see exactly how much money they save on their electric bill each month. Visit WilsonNC.org/ratedecrease
Tips On How You Can Save Even More
The rate you pay for electricity is important, but your energy consumption is even more important. By taking steps to use less energy, you can reduce your electric bill even more. Here are some resources to consider:
- Wilson Energy’s energy audit program, org/wilson-energy/energy-saving-tips/ or call 252-399-2415.
- Wilson Energy’s voluntary load management program “Beat the Peak” where you can save $68 per year – 252-399-2415
- The Weatherization Assistance Program offered in our region by WAGES NC. Information: 919-734-1178 ext. 240, org/programs/weatherization-haarp-program/
- For other money saving tips please visit org/wilson-energy/energy-saving-tips/
Remember … Your Bill Includes Much More Than Just Electricity
Your Wilson Energy bill may contain many services, including water, sewer, trash, electric, and natural gas. Keep in mind the lower rates only affect your electric usage. Rates for the other services remain the same.
How It Happened: The Story Behind the Savings
For more than 30 years, Wilson (along with other cities and towns in eastern North Carolina through the North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency) has owned part of several power plants. This summer, Duke Energy Progress purchased the plants back from our public power communities for $1.25 billion. That allowed Wilson to implement this historic rate reduction. City leaders have been working for many years to address the issue of electric rates. It was a team effort that involved many partners to accomplish the sale and enable us to lower rates.