LAURINBURG — During its regular meeting on Tuesday, the Laurinburg City Council applauded the achievements of the Scotland High School football team during its 2013 season.
The team ended a 15-1 season with its only loss, in the 4A state championship game in Raleigh against Dudley High School. The team was invited by council to attend Tuesday’s meeting, where Mayor Tommy Parker presented head coach Richard Bailey and the team members with lapel pins.
“You made Laurinburg proud during the fall — you rallied our community in a very nice, positive way,” Parker said. “I actually went to Raleigh; the weather wasn’t very good, and you can’t always blame it on the weather, but I know you were a team of speed and the water on that field slowed you down some. This town is proud of you.”
Bailey reflected on the community support that sustained the team throughout a brilliant season and disappointing finish.
“It’s a wonderful thing to be the football coach in Scotland County because of the pride that we have and the following we have,” he said. “Despite that awful weather in the state championship game, to see how many citizens of Laurinburg were there to cheer our kids on, and the wonderful thing was after losing that game, to come back and still feel the love of the community.”
Also on Monday, council heard from North Scotland Fire Chief William Shaw, who outlined the Scotland County Fire Commission’s plans for improvement in countywide fire services in the coming years.
Most of the county has an Insurance Services Offices rating of 6 on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst. The southernmost part of the county as well as a district west of Laurel Hill are considered, for insurance purposes, as unserved by a fire department as there is no fire station within a six mile radius.
“People that are outside that six miles are paying county taxes but they’re not receiving,” Shaw said. “If you live outside the six miles, a fire truck’s going to help you, but as far as the ISO and your homeowners’ insurance, you’re living in no man’s land, and that’s what we’re trying to do away with.”
The fire commission is expected to request a fire tax increase from the county board of commissioners, with the goal of buying enough equipment to build additional substations in those areas.
“We’re providing a plan to purchase new equipment, which would free up fire equipment to go to a substation in the south and prevent the city from having to buy it,” Shaw said.
A south district substation, Shaw added, would be the initial priority as there is a higher population currently not served. In following years, funds would be dedicated to a substation in the western part of the county.
In other business, council approved a Citizen Participation Plan for its Comprehensive Pedestrian Plan currently being formulated using N.C. Department of Transportation and Community Transformation Grant funds. The plan will give the city a framework for developing pedestrian thoroughfares in areas of high foot traffic as well as better access to schools and shopping.
“What it’s going to allow us to do is have a comprehensive pedestrian plan so that we can go forth and, if council so chooses in future budgets, we’ll know best how to spend the taxpayers’ dollars wisely as far as sidewalks, improvements, greenways, where you have connectivity to the existing infrastructure.”
That plan’s public input element includes an online survey, which may be accessed at walklaurinbug.org.
Council also plans to reconsider its approach to conditional use permits filed for solar farms in the city limits and extraterritorial jurisdiction. Despite council’s denial of a conditional use permit to Strata Solar last April, that project is now free to proceed after a Superior Court judge overturned the council decision.
Earlier this week, council decided against pursuing an appeal of the Superior Court ruling.
“I really think we need to revisit our procedure and have our attorney instruct us, in light of this decision, how we need to go forward when someone files an application for a conditional use permit,” said Councilmember Drew Williamson. “I think we all need to know the steps and really what our role is in making these decisions.”
In other business, council approved:
— A resolution requesting that the N.C. Department of Transportation lower the speed limit on Shaw Road from 45 mph to 35.
— An agreement with Richmond Community College to provide a resource officer to rotate among the Honeycutt Center, the Purcell Building, and Scotland Early College High School.
— Allocation of $21,000 in lapsed police salaries to building maintenance to pay for mold remediation and security improvements to the Sanford Building, where police evidence is housed.
— Allocation of $25,000 in lapsed cemetery salaries to grounds maintenance salaries.
— Authorizing tax collector Diana Chavis to advertise tax liens, currently totalling $247,843 and representing some $6 million in property valuation, in March.
— Rescheduling its annual public input session, cancelled last Tuesday due to weather, for March 10 at the A.B. Gibson center.
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-276-2311, ext. 17. Follow her on Twitter @emkaylbg.