Roanoke Rapids police are booking several people following a drug bust this morning in the 100 block of Hamilton Street.
“Word’s y’all slingin’ dope like crazy,” one man taken into custody on an unrelated warrant said to a group of people handcuffed on the porch of 135 Hamilton Street.
Chief Jeff Hinton, carrying a G-man like Tommy gun, said the arrests resulted from a lengthy investigation including officer observations and citizen complaints. “It’s been a lot of activity around both these houses.”
One man arrested told officers he was trying to sleep before the 10 a.m. bust. “Y’all weren’t yesterday,” the officer replied.
Several of those handcuffed were eventually let go although it wasn’t immediately clear why.
Officers searched both houses and then carried several men off for booking. Their names or charges were not immediately available.
One thing council will immediately begin to look at is exploring new health insurance for its employees.
The city’s premium for the past fiscal year with Blue Cross and Blue Shield was more than $1 million, Human Resources Manager Kathy Kearney told council during its retreat today.
Finance Director MeLinda Hite said that figure is expected to be same at the end of this fiscal year.
Its premium in 2006 with a different provider was $440,000 with a 80-20 split. The current plan is a 70-30 split.
“We need to take a look at that,” Council member Greg Lawson said. “There has to be a competitive process.”
Said Kearney: “We need to look at it for our employees and taxpayers.”
City Manager Paul Sabiston said the city could see savings of a couple $100,000 a year by going elsewhere.
“We need to get rolling,” Lawson said.
Police Chief Jeff Hinton
• 26 Community Watch groups formed.
• Call volume is more than 30,000 a year.
• Some areas need more attention than others.
• Laws and courtrooms continually change. “It’s very important for officers and liability to be kept up to date, to solve crimes that come up.”
• Officers encouraged to get out of patrol cars and interact with community.
• “I can’t say everything is rosy. We have issues on pay and working conditions. Overall morale is positive. We want to be part of the solution, not the problem.”
Councilman Ed Liverman to Hinton: “In our district we have a lot of businesses. It seems to be the consensus that business owners don’t know the officers.”
Hinton: “We’re striving to change that. Our officers are aware people in town are subject to sit on a jury.”
Fire Chief Gary Corbet
• Planning a fire Explorer post.
• More activity during Fire Prevention Month. “We plan to expand involvement in the community for installation of home smoke detectors.”
• Need to think seriously about replacing ladder truck. “Our ladder truck is 12 years old. It’s starting to show wear and tear. It costs $8,000 to $10,000 a year to maintain.”
Public Works Director Richard Parnell
• “We get it done. We refer to ourselves as custodians of city. We clean up, repair, we’re in the background of everything that’s done.”
• Lost nine employees in 2008-2009 and 13 part-time employees. “That was 25 percent of our workforce. We didn’t drop 25 percent of our services.”
• Explore possibilities of contracting street maintenance. “We’ve not resurfaced a street in Roanoke Rapids since 1999. In 1999 the cost per mile was $4,027. In 2009 it was $16,496 for materials.”
Parks and Recreation Director John Simeon
• The inmate program moved the department from being reactive to proactive.
• Improve conditions of athletic fields. “We probably haven’t replaced soccer goals in eight to 10 years. I’m not sure we could do a soccer tournament if we wanted to.”
• Complete plans for a fitness center at T.J. Davis.
Planning and Development Director Amanda Jarratt
• Capitalize on momentum from Opportunity Clean Sweep.
• “Now is the time to take a good, hard look at where we want Roanoke Rapids to be in 20 years.”
• Need to update land use ordinance, storm water management ordinance, water quality plans, sign ordinance and lanscape ordinance.
• Training for board of adjustments and planning board.
• Need for administrative help.
Finance Director MeLinda Hite
• Establish fund balance policy.
• Restore bond rating.
• Continue to build a reserve fund.
• Aggressively collect all delinquent taxes and receivables.
• Redesign city’s website.
Human Resources Manager Kathy Kearney
• Employee wellness.
• Lunch and learn sessions.
• Redesign HR section of website.
• Revise employee benefits book.
• Redesign Channel 15.
City Clerk Lisa Vincent
• Post minutes to website.
• More attractive and user friendly website.
• Review codes.
• Work to have codes on website.
City Manager Paul Sabiston
• Reestablish basic city service and performance minimums.
• Address employee salary issues.
• Stabilize finances of the theater.
• Boost employee morale.
• Update city code.
Following the momentum of Opportunity Clean Sweep, the city will begin aggressive enforcement of its minimum housing code.
City council hopes to know something next week on Lafayette Gatling’s February and March payments for the Roanoke Rapids Theatre.
A Roanoke Rapids area man was charged Tuesday with strangulation following an investigation by the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office.
Lieutenant Bobby Martin said in a press release Deputy Corey Griffin met a source in P&J Trailer Park about an assault.
Griffin and Martin learned the victim was assaulted in the early morning hours Saturday, allegedly by her boyfriend, Michael Wayne Lee Jr., 29.
The victim alleged Lee became angry with her over a dispute they were having and began to strike her in the face before he allegedly started to strangle the victim with his hands.
The victim escaped and returned to her home. She later sought medical attention at Halifax Regional Medical Center and was treated and released.
Lee was charged with assault by strangulation, assault inflicting serious injury and communicating threats. He was jailed on $20,000 bond and has an April 20 court date.
The cutting at Roanoke Rapids High School Tuesday occurred inside a classroom and not outside, Chief Jeff Hinton said this morning.
Hinton said the student charged, Ryshea Shakira Alston, 16, brought the bottle she allegedly used to cut another student in her purse.
Another student and a faculty member of the high school were injured.
Ryshea Shakira Alston, of the 900 block of Henry Street, was charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Alston also injured herself in the fight which occurred shortly before 9:30 a.m.
A motive is not known and Alston was jailed on $3,000 bond.
Police declined to name the victims, who did not have life threatening injuries.
Raymond Watson collected 51 percent of the votes today to become Scotland Neck’s new mayor, according to unofficial results. The votes will be canvassed next Tuesday.
Watson got 448 votes to incumbent James Mills’ 434.
Watson swept Mills in Precinct 2 voting by an 89 percent margin while the incumbent won in Precinct 1, collecting 86 percent of the votes.
Fifty-one percent of the town’s voters came out for the special election.
A new election was ordered after irregularities were found in the November mayoral election.
Weldon Mayor Julia Meacham pulled up in her car at town hall and was pleased.
A 16-year-old Roanoke Rapids girl has been charged in a cutting which injured a student and faculty member at Roanoke Rapids High School today.