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Council gets hurricane update, okays fuel tank at helicopter pad

Whiteville city council Tuesday night unanimously gave final approval to a conditional use permit that will allow a medical helicopter service to store petroleum and chemical products at the hospital and heard from Emergency Services Director Hal Lowder that, while floodwaters from Hurricane Florence have receded, the storm event still is not over as far as the city is concerned.

  Jason Clark, right, of Apollo Med Flight, and city planner Robert Clark address city council during a public hearing Tuesday. After the hearing, council approved a conditional use permit to allow Apollo to place a 1,000-gallon fuel tank adjacent to its helicopter pad at the hospital.

Jason Clark, right, of Apollo Med Flight, and city planner Robert Clark address city council during a public hearing Tuesday. After the hearing, council approved a conditional use permit to allow Apollo to place a 1,000-gallon fuel tank adjacent to its helicopter pad at the hospital.

Council also heard, but took no action on, a couple of citizens comments on flooding in the city and were told by City Manager Darren Currie that construction of the new town hall soon is expected to be back on schedule despite the storm. The meeting was unusually brief, less than an hour, probably because only a week earlier council held a longer called meeting at Vineland Station to get an update on Hurricane Florence.

Lowder told the board that even though the storm is over, the city now is in a recovery stage and that damage assessments still are ongoing. He also said that citizens need to be aware of and heed any warnings, such as barricades and yellow tape, because dangers still exist as a result of the storm.

City Planner Robert Lewis and Jason Clark of Apollo MedFlight, which operates medical helicopters, spoke briefly at a public hearing conducted by council regarding Apollo’s application for a special use permit to store petroleum and chemical products in a 1,000-gallon fuel tank near Apollo’s helicopter pad near Columbus Regional Healthcare. After the hearing, council approved the permit with little discussion.

Also with little discussion, council reappointed Bobby Deans to a three year term on the ABC board. Although reappointment of a chairman of the board also was listed in the agenda packet, no mention of the chairman’s position, currently held by Gary Bass, was made in the motion passed by council.

City Manager Darren Currie and Lowder talked about the fact that the parks and recreation department has adjusted activities typically held in the recreation center for at least a month and perhaps longer because the county’s several Red Cross shelters for storm evacuees were consolidated Tuesday into a single shelter in the recreation center. A city news release issued earlier in the day announced that the rec center now is being used by the Red Cross as a shelter for the entire county.

The news release said that all scheduled activities at the recreation center, including “open play,” are postponed until further notice.

West Whiteville Park and Nolan Park will remain closed until further notice but the parks and rec football problem will continue as planned. All other programs are suspended until further notice, however. The news release explained that additional time will be added to existing monthly/annual recreation center memberships to make up for the time the recreation center is not available but that the city is not accepting applications for new memberships in the recreation center until further notice.

Stuart Rogers