Rockingham Mayor Gene McLaurin proclaimed at the City Council meeting Tuesday evening that May 15 - 21 was Police Week, in honor of those killed in the line of duty.
“It’s dangerous work that you do every day and we recognize that, and appreciate what you do,” said McLaurin.
Rockingham Chief of Police Robert Voorhees said that more than 50 percent of his police force advance beyond their minimum training. He presented certificates of higher lever to police officers while their families stood by. Voorhees awarded Dt. Larry H. Tunstall with the Advanced Law Certificate; Dustin Neal Johnson received the Intermediate Certificate, as did Andrew Wayne Ansley.
McLaurin thanked the officers’ families for supporting the officers during their training and duty.
Voorhees and McLaurin brought up that they had begun some discussion about ordinances that would address chained and tethered dogs.
“It’s very preliminary, but we’re just starting to look at it and putting more focus on it,” said McLaurin.
“This has come from citizen complaints,” said Voorhees. “We’ll discuss it more in the May workshop and the city attorney might share something about possible state legislature, which would make a city ordinance obsolete and we could enforce a state law. There was a house bill introduced that would eliminate chaining, but house bills have a way of being pigeon-holed so we have to wait and see. There are several avenues we can go down. We are looking at what other cities have done, and we’re actively working on it.”
The Rockingham City Council will gather at Hinson Lake’s Rotary Lodge on May 24 to discuss the city budget for the next fiscal year. This will be a public meeting.
In other news:
Construction on Franklin Street has begun, and City Manager Monty Crump thanked the Downtown Corporation for increasing their monetary contribution to the project by $10,000.
“We appreciate their generosity,” said Crump.
Browder Park now has Wi-Fi that the public can access with Internet-capable devices. Signs will soon be posted to inform the public of this option. The Wi-Fi network for downtown is still in progress as the city works to find an alternative for positioning their signal repeaters. In the original plan, the repeaters would have been positioned on the traffic lights in an agreement with Progress Energy, but Crump said there were complications with the process, and Progress Energy declined being a part of the network’s infrastructure.
Progress Energy Spokesperson Jeff Brooks said there were “engineering challenges with placing attachments on the poles” but that they were “working with the City to accommodate” the infrastructure needs.
Crump said Ellerbe Telephone suggested speaking to private businesses around downtown that might be interested in supporting the Wi-Fi network.
Councilmen expressed their gratitude towards city staff in all departments for handling storm damage and some simultaneous teenage vandalism that resulted in thousands of dollars of damage, and that in the end, it had all gone smoothly.
“It’s just another example of how hard our staff works,” said Councilman John P. Hutchinson.
Councilman Travis Billingsley said the first Plaza Jam of the year was a success. He said his favorite time of the year is Parks and Recreation softball and baseball, and that citizens express to him a need for additional fields and space.
“The need is there and I keep telling folks we’ll get there,” said Billingsley.
The councilmen encouraged the citizens of Rockingham and Richmond County to come out and support Relay For Life on Friday at the senior high’s Raider Stadium.
Councilman Eugene Willard brought the latest edition of North Carolina Wildlife magazine to the city council meeting on Tuesday. The cover depicts a stark-white squirrel, and hints at an article inside about the white squirrels of Rockingham and Brevard. According to the N.C. Wildlife website, white squirrels in Rockingham and Brevard are not albinos, but are leucistic, a reduction in all types of skin pigments, not just melanin.
Staff Writer Dawn Kurry can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ex. 43, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.