SLLA LogoThe Seven Lakes Landowners Association [SLLA] Board appears ready to undo a change to the guest card policy that was implemented just a few months ago.

Community Manager Ray Sohl, during the Board’s Monday, May 13 Work Session, said the new policy, which requires that guest cards be assigned to a particular individual, had resulted in “some very serious complaints about the new fees.” The office had been “inundated” with complaints, he added.

The longstanding SLLA guest card policy had allowed Association members to pay $25 for four guest cards that entitled guests to the use of any of the community amenities.

Motivated by a concern that overuse by guests was increasing Association expenses, the previous Board of Directors took the stables and the Northside pool out of the guest card system, implementing a separate fee schedule for use of each of those amenities.

Continuing in the same vein, they tightened up use of the guest card to access the remaining amenities, requiring that guest cards be purchased for specific individuals, rather than being transferrable from, for example, one group of grandchildren visiting on Memorial Day and a separate group visiting on July 4th.

Read more: SLLA rethinks guest card policy

Foxfire LogoFoxfire Village held the first of two citizens’ participation budget workshops on Tuesday, May 7.

Mike Cole, Captain of the West End Fire and Rescue Department, was the only citizen in attendance, aside from the Council members. For the benefit of one, the Council laid out the proposed budget.

“We would like to give residents some idea where our revenue comes from and where it goes,” said Councilwoman Leslie Frusco, who heads the finance committee.

At the previous work session, the council had worked to prioritize departmental spending and make any necessary cuts. The revised budget is still a work in progress.

“This is the preliminary budget,” Frusco said. “After we have our citizens’ participation meetings we will go back and review it.”

The finance committee has devoted much of 2014 to the budget. “This is a process we have spent a lot of time on,” Frusco said, “making sure we are serving the needs of the Village and our residents and also taking care of our employees.”

The Council hopes that the end result will welcome new residents. “By keeping the Village looking good we hope to encourage potential people to come and build homes, while being cognitive of our residents’ needs,” Frusco said.

Read more: Foxfire Budget Session fields little input

Foxfire LogoThe Foxfire Village Long Range Planning Committee believes it is time for action. Earlier this year, the committee recommended that the Village Council should consider merging its water system with the larger Moore County water system.

Moore County Public Works Director Randy Gould fleshed out the proposal in a meeting with the Council in April. The County would acquire most of the assets of the Foxfire Water System, as well as its outstanding debt, and Foxfire customers would become Moore County customers.

During the Council's Tuesday, May 14 regular meeting, Councilman Mick McCue recommended action.

“I think we need to move forward," McCue said. "For myself, I am convinced this is the way to go. I am more than happy have a public hearing for the citizens’ input and listen to people and let them convince me that it is not. We know that Moore County is doing an excellent job of planning for the future water needs, thirty to forty years out. And I want to be on board with it.”

Read more: Foxfire Council debates sale of water system

MCS LogoThe cartoon adorned the office door of a college Spanish professor: A mouse barking like a dog to scare a way a cat. The caption read: “See, children, it pays to know a second language.”

At West End Elementary, twenty-four kindergartners will get the chance to learn to communicate beyond their mother tongue. Beginning in the new school year, West End will introduce its first Spanish Immersion kindergarten.

Principal Leigh Ann McClendon has done her research. Last year, Associate Superintendent Kathy Kennedy asked McClendon to visit the language immersion program at New Century International Elementary School in Fayetteville.

McClendon was amazed at what she saw. She immediately requested permission to begin a similar program at West End.

“We have done a lot of research, screening of candidates and interviews,” McClendon said. “We are partnering with VIF International Education Company out of Chapel Hill.”

West End currently has an opening for a kindergarten teacher. McClendon has conducted interviews to hire a native Spanish speaking teacher.

“This is not an additional position — this is based on my enrollment,” she explained.

Read more: Spanish Immersion Kindergarten Coming to WEE

Moore County LogoThe Moore County Planning Board has, in effect, banned industrial-scale solar farms in Moore County.

The action came during the Board's Thursday, May 9 regular meeting, as members considered a set of text amendments prepared by the Planning Department, that would have made "solar collector facility" a conditional use in a number of zoning districts. After considerable debate, the Board concluded the concerns outweighed the benefits.

At least three landowners have already taken the first steps to receive state approval for building solar farms in the County.


A viable business?

Planning Board Members questioned whether solar farms were viable as a business and worried that they are dependent on large government subsidies. They also worried that evolving technology would quickly date existing structures, making them obsolete. And they feared that, once a solar farm was no longer in use, the landowner would not properly dismantle it and that it would become an eyesore.

At the Board's request, the Moore County Planning Department has been conducting research on solar farms since October of last year. Several members of the board visited the Strata Solar Farm in Raeford. During the Board's April meeting, a question and answer session was held with a representative from Argand Energy Solutions, LLC. At that time, Planner Jeremy Sparrow was asked to edit and write text amendments to present at the May meeting for Board consideration.

Sparrow gave an in-depth presentation of the proposed text amendments, which tightly covered all bases -- from setbacks, proximity to existing three-phase electrical, height of fencing, and emergency access to the type of non-reflective coating permissible. Throughout the presentation, the Board commented on and discussed the proposed ordinances.

Read more: Planning Board says 'No' to Solar Farms

Moore County Logo

Budgets are a balancing act, and the Fiscal Year 2014 budget proposed by County Manager Wayne Vest during the Tuesday, May 7 meeting of the Moore County Board of Commissioners meeting is no exception.

Vest's budget, assembled by a team that included Chairman Nick Picerno and Commissioner Randy Saunders, has no increase in taxes, continues to pay down debt without depleting reserves, covers the rising cost of employee benefits, and adds seven new paramedics, including three dedicated to a new EMS & Fire substation to serve the northeast corner of the County.

On the other hand, it fails to fully fund Moore County Schools' and Sandhills Community College's requests for local funding, and offers no cost of living or merit increase for county employees.

Vest and the budget team were praised by all four Commissioners for their work on the draft document. The public will have an opportunity to weigh in on the budget at the Tuesday, May 21 Commissioners meeting; final approval of the budget is scheduled for the Tuesday, June 4 meeting. A copy of the full budget is available on the County's website.


No tax increase

The first of four goals that Vest said guided the budget process was to "maintain current tax rates," and the centrality of that goal was emphasized when Chairman Picerno called the wording of the objective his only quibble with the budget.

"I would have said 'maintain or reduce,'" Picerno said.

Vest's budget does indeed maintain the county property tax rate at 46.5 cents per hundred, where it has been since FY 2010, and the Advanced Life Support tax, which funds EMS operations, at 2 cents per hundred.

The fire tax rate in each of the County's sixteen fire districts remain at their current levels, including 4 cents for Seven Lakes, 5.9 cents for West End, and Eagle Springs at 7.5 cents. 

Read more: Manager's Budget Has No Tax Increase

Moore County LogoIn addition to hearing the initial presentation of County Manager Wayne Vest's proposed FY2014 budget, the Moore County Commissioners got the ball rolling on two key initiatives during their Tuesday, May 7 regular meeting: a deal to buy into a water plant expansion in Harnett County, and the purchase of a site for a new fire and EMS substation in the northeastern corner of the County.


More water from Harnett

Commissioners Larry Caddell and Jimmy Melton have been working with Public Utilities staff to narrow down the list of options the County has for increasing its water supply. After investigating the alternatives and negotiating with Harentt County officials, they settled on buying into the expansion of Harnett County's water plant, which draws its supply from the Cape Fear River.

During Tuesday's meeting, the Board authorized Public Utilities to issue a Request for Qualifications for a consultant to develop a preliminary engineering report and environmental assessment -- the first step toward securing funding for the project. Public Utilities Director Randy Gould said the overall project will take 3.5 to 4 years to complete.

As proposed, the County would pay Harnett County $5.25 million to purchase 3.0 million gallons per day of capacity in its water plant, as well as $200,000 for infrastructure improvements needs to move that water to the Moore County line. That will permit Moore County to pay Harnett $1.92 per thousand gallons for water, compared to the $2.40 per thousand gallons it is paying now.

A waterline extension along NC Highway 73, booster pumps, and a new water tank near West End will add another $5.4 million to the cost of the project.

"This is the first step in a twenty-year plan for water," Caddell said. That plan will also include at least three additional wells to be drilled on sites on Linden Road

Speaking on behalf of both the Moore County Chamber of Commerce Board and the Water Task Force of the Moore County Summit, Chamber Director Patrick Coughlin commended the Commissioners on their decision to move forward to secure additional water resources.

Read more: County Gets Ball Rolling on Harnett Water

Foxfire Logo

[This article contains corrections and clarifications to the version printed in the Friday, May 3 edition of The Times. The corrected paragraph appears in boldface & italics.]

The Foxfire Village Council met in a Work Session Tuesday night, April 30, to discuss, justify, and reduce future spending where possible. Councilwoman Leslie Frusco presented each council member with a budget packet.

Item by item, the Council worked to provide enough funding to cover necessary items while whittling back less urgent expenditures.

 

Equipping the Police

Prioritizing the Village’s Police Department needs, Councilman Mick McCue said: “It’s very easy to make arguments for all the equipment the police department might never need. But you don’t need them 'til the day you need them.”

The officers follow defined procedures in responding to calls, and ask for County back up when necessary. Items tentatively included in the 2014 budget include a computerized vehicle camera and, possibly, a new firearm.

“Keep in mind, we are going to present this budget at the citizen participation meetings," Frusco said. "We then come back in May after input to edit the final budget.”

“Mick, I encourage you to speak to public safety at the citizen meeting, as to why you took some things out of the budget. It is important that our residents know we are serious — and that it doesn’t mean these items are unnecessary. It just wasn’t a priority this year.”

Read more: Foxfire Council gets out its sharp pencils

Foxfire VillageThe future of Foxfire Village’s water system was on the table at a special Council Work Session on Thursday, April 11, with Moore County Public Works Director Randy Gould in attendance.

The Village’s Long Range Planning Committee has worked for the last two years researching and assessing the quantity and quality of the Village’s present and potential water supply, measured against future population growth, the cost of maintaining the system, and preparedness in case of a catastrophic occurrence.


Looking for more water

In 2007, Foxfire contracted with the Pittsboro-based engineering firm Hydrostructures, PA to conduct a Water Source Study. The study recommended that, with the Village’s high rate of growth at the time, it should should secure an alternative source to complement the system of wells that currently supplies Foxfire’s water. A follow up study conducted in 2008 recommended Moore County as that source.

The 2008 recession halted construction, slowing growth, and the recommendation was put on the back burner. The Village’s current water system works well and is economically viable. However, it does not have the capacity to meet future expected growth.

The Long Range Planning Committee met with Gould earlier in the year to explore whether Moore County would consider extending water to Foxfire. Gould created a model, factoring in availability of water, proximity of water lines and towers, and expense.

After considering all options, the Long Range Planning Committee recommended that the Village Council consider merging their water system into the Moore County system. Noting the complexity of the factors to be considered — and the need for public input — the Council scheduled the April 11 Work Session and invited Gould to attend.

Read more: Gould explains proposal for Foxfire Water System

SLLA LogoNewly-elected Seven Lakes Land-owners Association [SLLA] Director Steve Hudson plans to resign from the Board, he told The Times on Tuesday.

In a Letter to the Editor printed in this edition [see page 22], Hudson explains his concern that the current Board of Directors is operating in violation of the SLLA bylaws by voting on matters during what the bylaws describe as a “non-voting” Work Session.

Saying that the definition of “non-voting” is something even a fourth-grader can understand, Hudson writes:”The Board wants you to obey the bylaws and the rules and regulations, but those don’t apply to them.” He then declares his intention to resign.

The issue surfaced during the Monday, April 8 SLLA Work Session — the first held since Board elections in March and the first Hudson had attended since his last term on the Board ended in 2008.

Read more: Hudson Resigns from SLLA Board

In Memory Of

  • Jane Scales Facey

     of Foxfire Village died on Tuesday, April 19 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. A private...

  • Nancy P. Neilson

    formerly of Seven Lakes, died on Monday,  April 18. Nancy and her husband, Roger, retired from...

  • John E. Letter

    95, of Seven Lakes, died Monday, March 21, at his home, surrounded by family and friends. A...

  • Marilyn Rose Kemble Bearden

     84, formerly of Seven Lakes, died on March 8 in Greenville, SC. The family will receive friends on...

  • Vonadora Baker Stackhouse

    96, died on Wednesday, March 2, her wedding anniversary, at her home in Seven Lakes West. Services were...

  • James R. Nichols

    (Jim) of Seven Lakes died at his home on Monday, February 22.  A Celebration of his life will be...

  • Timothy William Bouchelle

    49, of West End died on Friday, February 19, 2016 at his residence.  A visitation will be held from...

  • John P. Carpenter

    75, of Seven Lakes North died Saturday, February 13 at FirstHealth Hospice House in Pinehurst. A...

  • Michael Jerome Loney

    87 of Seven Lakes West died Tuesday, February 9 at First Health Moore Regional Hospital in...

  • Glenda Mae (Marks) Tucker

    64 of Seven Lakes passed on Sunday February 7 at Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro.  A...

  • Dr. William Harrell Johnson

    92 years old, of Seven Lakes West, died on Tuesday, February 2, at home.  A memorial service was...