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Whiteville to accept $50,000 from Duke Energy and ask DOT for bridge to be named for Conner

The City of Whiteville will accept nearly $50,000 for first responder equipment and support the naming of the U.S. 701 bridge over Main Street in honor of a N.C. Highway Patrol trooper who died in the line of duty Tuesday in a regular city council meeting that begins at 6:30 p.m.

John Elliott of Duke Energy will be on hand to present a check for $49,630 from the Duke Foundation to the city for first responder items. Whiteville is one of 65 award recipients getting $1.1 million in funding to help North Carolina communities increase their response capabilities for future weather events with advance preparation and planning.

Also among the 65 grant recipients out of 140 applicants from across the state is the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office. Approved projects range from swift water rescue equipment and specialized radios to nonprofit training and Spanish language outreach. Awarded projects will be implemented in communities over the following weeks and months.

Elliot encouraged the City of Whiteville to apply. Emergency Management Director Hal Lowder worked with Fire Chief David Yergeau and former Police Chief Jeffrey Rosier to identify the items the needed by the city. Every item in the application, written by Lowder, was fully funded by Duke.

Included is $31,044 for communications-related equipment to bridge the communications system and emergency operations center to FirstNet and purchase VIPER radios that are interoperable with state agencies, $14,150 for the water rescue team for a boat, trailer and motor as well as dry suits for rescuers, and $4,536 for an unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) and related equipment.

City council is expected to adopt a resolution requested by the N.C. Highway Patrol asking the N.C. Dept. of Transportation to rename the bridge on U.S. 701 which crosses over Main Street in honor of Trooper Kevin Conner, who was killed in the line of duty on Oct. 17, 2018. The request marks the second effort to have Conner so honored. The Columbus County board of commissioners asked DOT to name the U.S. 701/U.S. 74.76 bridge for the trooper, but that request couldn’t be honored because the bridge already is named for the late Hezekiah Pridgen.

In other business, council will revisit ordinance changes regulating stormwater development. The ordinance was considered following a public hearing on Aug. 27 but a final decision was tabled with a request that staff clarify language in the document, to include definitions of some terms.

Council also will conduct a public hearing Tuesday night on a request by the Whiteville Assembly of God for a text amendment to the zoning ordinance to add language regarding electronic business identification signs for churches and other places of worship. The planning board has recommended adoption of the amendment.

 
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Stuart Rogers