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Monday, 03 August 2009 19:10

Register of Deeds report mirrors economy

Fiscal year revenue totals from the register of deeds office reflect the current downturn in the economy on the local, state and national levels.

This was the summary of a report given to Halifax County commissioners today by Register of Deeds Judy Evans-Barbee.

Revenues for this past fiscal year were $402,034, according to the report, while in the previous year they were $575,300.75.

The report showed revenue stamp fees — which are used to determine property transaction values — were $158,789 this past fiscal year. That represents $79,394,500 worth of transaction values.

The previous year’s figure was $291,687, representing $145,843,500 in transactions.

There were also $67,300 worth of vital records recorded this past fiscal year, Evans-Barbee said, which included 3,437 birth certificates, 2,268 death certificates and 316 marriage licenses issued.

She also updated the board on other things going on in the office, including scanning maps in-house, which represents a $7,000 annual savings. The office is also working on getting  birth and death records scanned. Currently they are up to the year 1955 in births and 1983 in deaths, with plans to go back to 1913.

In other matters today the board:

• Approved buying a reconditioned compactor for the landfill from Road Machinery Services in Statesville to replace one which burned recently. Price of the compactor was $58,000.

While the board approved buying the equipment, Commissioner James Pierce said he wanted to know why he didn’t know about the fire. “Personally, I would like to be aware of an incident of this magnitude,” he said.

He also wanted to know if there was any preventive maintenance which could have been done to prevent the fire, to which County Manager Tony responded he wasn’t sure if anything could have been done. There were no injuries in the fire.

• Approved a $20,866 change order for the sludge dewatering project at Reser’s Fine Foods.

The board debated on a door for the system, which was priced at $2,900 and initially approved the change order, excluding the door.

Chairman Gene Minton, however, suggested the board approve the change order with the cost of the door to be no more than $2,000. Commissioner Rives Manning voted against that measure.

“We can’t afford to delay the project,” Minton said. “We don’t want to do anything to stop the process.”

Meanwhile, Gwen Matthews, public utilities director, reported the Roanoke Rapids Sanitary District was accepting waste from the plant beginning today.

• Recognized the Finance Department for its award from the Government Finance Officers Association of the U.S. and Canada for 10 straight years of excellence in financial reporting. The board also honored each employee with a plaque.

The Davie Volunteer Fire Department got official approval to build a new fire station today from the Halifax County Commissioners.

Approval, in a resolution, was a formality to recognize the county agrees with the department constructing a new station, County Manager Tony Brown said.

The fire department needs the new station because its current building, located near the intersection of U.S. Highway 158 and Zoo Road, is too small. The new fire station will be built down the highway from the current one.

Saturday, 01 August 2009 19:09

Grease fire started Gaston blaze

A grease fire destroyed a house on Stone Street in Gaston Friday when a deep fryer flared up, the town’s volunteer fire department said.

The fire left Phillip Amyx and his wife homeless, Ed Porter Sr., deputy fire chief, said this morning.

The Red Cross was notified and Porter said it was his understanding Amyx was making arrangements with family members for a place to stay. The Red Cross was notified.

Porter said the deep fryer apparently flared up and Amyx left the house.

Firefighters from Gaston were assisted by those from Garysburg and Roanoke Rapids. Three firefighters were treated at Halifax Regional Medical Center in Roanoke Rapids for heat exhaustion and one sustained a minor injury. All firefighters were OK, Porter said.

Saturday, 01 August 2009 19:08

City's fund balance gets another boost

The city’s fund balance got another boost Friday as KapStone paid its 07-08 taxes, officials confirmed.

The company paid $243,434.25, Finance Director MeLinda Hite said. Of that money, approximately $45,000 will go to the city school system while the remainder will go to the fund balance, she said.

Hite said the money should put the city’s fund balance at more than $2 million.

“This has been one of the council’s main agendas to build up the fund balance,” Mayor D.N. Beale said, “And we are continuing to do that. I spent yesterday talking to people in Raleigh (the Local Government Commission) and they said they are pleased, very much pleased, with the way we’re building the fund balance. Council is going to continue to work hard on that.”

News KapStone paid its 07-08 tax bill comes following an announcement during Tuesday’s city council meeting the fund balance has improved following drastic measures late last fiscal year to keep its savings account from dropping below an 8 percent threshold.

Measures taken by council when the city learned in February it faced a $664,000 shortfall mean when it closed the books at the end of June, its fund balance increased 8.9 percent for a total of 17.2 percent. That represents a $1.9 million unreserved fund balance. Fund revenues for the year are expected to increase by more than $900,000.

The news does not mean the city can go on a spending spree because the Local Government Commission likes to see the percentage for city’s Roanoke Rapids size at 30 percent or more.

There are also no guarantees the state, to fix its budget woes, won’t take money from cities, officials said Tuesday.

Two things state legislators are eyeing are ABC revenues and eliminating privilege license fees, which would mean a total loss of $150,000 to the city. There have been indications the privilege license fees will go back to the state.

The news also doesn’t mean any positions cut to make up for the shortfall can be refilled.

The city cut a public works sanitation worker, two street worker I positions, property maintenance worker I position and a preventive maintenance specialist. An administrative assistant I position was made a part-time position.

Cuts were also made within the Planning Department. The city laid off a planner, an administrative assistant II, a part-time administrative assistant I and a code enforcement officer.

An administrative assistant was let go within city administration and part-time positions throughout the city were cut to balance the shortfall.

The city also enacted furloughs for all employees to deal with the shortfall.

Saturday, 01 August 2009 19:04

Funeral arrangements set for Dylan Moore

Funeral arrangements have been set for Dylan Moore, according to Wrenn Clarke & Hagan Funeral Service.

Visitation will be from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home on Fifth Street in Roanoke Rapids and funeral services will be held Monday at 3 p.m. at the Roanoke Rapids Theatre. Burial will follow at Shiloh United Methodist Church in Gaston.

The Gaston Volunteer Fire Department was returning to the scene today to determine what caused a fire which destroyed a house on Stone Street Friday.

Deputy Chief Ed Porter Sr. told The Spin this morning no one was at home when fire broke out shortly before 2 p.m.

Three firefighters were taken to Halifax Regional Medical Center in Roanoke Rapids where they were treated and later released for heat exhaustion. There was one from Garysburg, Lester Greenwood, and two from Gaston, Jay Barnes and Brian Powers. Several other firefighters were treated at the scene and one firefighter, Michelle Otten, received a minor injury, Porter said.

“It was the turnout gear and the extreme heat,” Porter said. “It wasn’t so much the heat from the fire as it was the humidity and heat.”

Firefighters spent most of the afternoon battling the blaze, finally clearing around 5:30 p.m. More than 20 firefighters from Gaston, Garysburg and Roanoke Rapids fought the fire.

When firefighters arrived flames were coming out the windows. It appears the fire started in the back of the house.

The initial dispatch indicated someone was in the house. The man who lives there with his wife, Phillip Amyx, was not at home. His wife is out of town. Porter said firefighters believe the family did lose two small dogs in the fire.

While no monetary damage estimate was immediately available, Porter said the house was a total loss. The house next to it sustained radiation damage.

Porter said nothing stood out on what might have caused the fire.

Friday, 31 July 2009 19:02

Fire guts house in Gaston

Fire has gutted a house on Stone Street in Gaston. Firefighters were searching the house to determine whether anyone was in there with help from the Roanoke Rapids Fire Department, which brought a thermal imaging camera.

Garysburg Volunteer firefighter Lester Greenwood was overcome by heat and was treated at the scene.

It is not clear what caused the fire.

Friday, 31 July 2009 19:01

Roanoke Rapids police roundup

The Roanoke Rapids Police Department reported the following on Wednesday:

Thursday, 30 July 2009 19:01

Woman charged with drug theft

A Roanoke Rapids woman was charged yesterday for allegedly stealing Xanax from the drug store where she used to work.

Roanoke Rapids Police Chief Jeff Hinton said Lindsey Godsey, 25, a former employee of CVS, was charged with possession of stolen property, embezzlement of a controlled substance by a registrant, felony possession of schedule IV and larceny by employee.

She was released from custody on $10,000 bond.

Hinton said the arrest stems from several months of investigation and the matter remains under investigation.