The Decennial Census is essential to our town, state and our country, and it is important to get the count right! It must be accurate, valid, reliable and fair to support political balance, determine federal funding and to encourage economic development in North Carolina communities. Inaccurate counts paint a distorted picture of the make-up of our communities and will result in a misallocation of resources for North Carolina. (https://www.nccensus.org/about-the-census)
March 12 - 20: Households will begin receiving official Census Bureau mail with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone, or by mail.
March 30 - April 1: The Census Bureau will count people who are experiencing homelessness over these three days. As part of this process, the Census Bureau counts people in shelters, at soup kitchens and mobile food vans, on the streets, and at non-sheltered, outdoor locations such as tent encampments.
April 1: Census Day is observed nationwide. By this date, every home will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. Once the invitation arrives, you should respond for your home in one of three ways: online, by phone, or by mail. When you respond to the census, you'll tell the Census Bureau where you live as of April 1, 2020.
April: Census takers will begin visiting college students who live on campus, people living in senior centers, and others who live among large groups of people. Census takers also begin conducting quality check interviews to help ensure an accurate count.
May - July: Census takers will begin visiting homes that haven't responded to the 2020 Census to help make sure everyone is counted.
The Jacksonville/Onslow Complete Census Complete Count Committee will have a booth at the Surf City Business Expo, Saturday, February 29th to hand out information and answers questions.
Over the past two weeks:
Staff held the first TRC meeting of the year. During this meeting staff discussed a preliminary plat request as well as the Final Plat approval request for Magnolia Reserve Phase 1 (first 20 lots). Staff also discussed the use of our new permitting system as a tool for TRC review.
Staff has continued to coordinate the review of the roadway improvements associated with the Waterside Development with internal as well as external staff. As a part of this coordination effort staff is reviewing the engineered roadway drawings.
Staff has seen an increase in the amount of drop in visits and phone calls from residents and professional staff regarding planning and zoning question.
Our Administrative Assistant continues to work with our existing building community in the transition from paper-based applications and inspection requests to our online system. Scheduling of inspections/returning phone calls utilizes a significant amount of time that could be utilized in other areas. As our customers become more familiar with the system, we should see a decrease in the amount of time required for troubleshooting applications.
Over the next month:
Staff will continue to streamline the TRC process utilizing ViewPoint.
Staff will continue to work through the issues of implementing ViewPoint. We are currently keeping a log of questions and concerns regarding ViewPoint and will be reaching out to the developer for a conference call to walk through these issues.
Based on the changes in Legislation relating to 160D staff has reached out to the Cape Fear Council of Governments to discuss the process of creating a Comprehensive Land Use Plan. This will replace/update our existing Land Use Plan. Staff will then follow with a complete update of Town Ordinances. In the meantime, staff will bring ordinance changes forward on an as needed basis.
Our Administrative Assistant will continue to familiarize herself with our required ordinances, fees, and online permitting system as well as being the first point of contact for many of our phone calls and drop in visitors.
Code Enforcement issued 35 trash cart violations and approved 3 food truck permits.
The building department has issued 4 stop work orders this past month for projects started without the proper building and zoning permits in place. If you hare not sure if your project requires permits, please call the office and we'll be happy to assist.
We are still waiting for the Surf City portion of Pender County's new Flood Insurance Rate Maps to be released by FEMA. The part of Surf City in Onslow County will be released along with the Pender County maps. As a reminder, you can utilize the State's Flood Risk Information System (FRIS) to access and see current vs. preliminary maps: https://fris.nc.gov/fris/Home.aspx?ST=NC
Example Screen Shot taken from FRIS website
The new permitting program is being improved upon daily and is taking up a lot of staff time, however, once all the fixes are made, it should provide efficiencies in the overall process.
The Surf City Public Works Department completed seventy work orders and fifty-six locate request since January 22, 2020. Included among these work orders are the installation of service for nine new homes. This is an eighty percent increase over the same period last year. The water plant produced an average of 400 thousand gallons a day over this period.
Approximately fifty percent of the utilities within phase one of the Waterside subdivision have been tested to date. Magnolia Reserve phase one is approximately ninety percent complete with testing phase. The utilities for Magnolia Reserve are scheduled to be started up on February 12th. The installation of the automatic valve on Sea Oaks is expected to be completed within the next two weeks. The automatic valve is expected to be put into service in the next forty-five days.
In an effort to better secure town infrastructure, improve the appearance of the town and reduce storm water runoff, Town employees in conjunction with community service workers have made improvements to Kinston Avenue, just south of the bridge. Town staff removed portion of a chain link fence and replaced it with a wooden fence. Town staff also built a berm to contain stormwater runoff before it enters the sound.
The testing and inspection cycle for back flow devices has begun and is expected to last until Memorial Day. Westbrook and Jarmin Plumbing will be testing every backflow device in town in ensure they are in proper working order. Per state regulation any connection to the potable water supply deemed a hazard must have a testable backflow device and this device must be tested annually.
The Surf City Waste Water Treatment Plant is a Sequential Batch Reactor or (SBR) and has the capability of treating 1.5 million gallons a day. Surf City WWTP also utilizes 30 acres of storage ponds and 208 acres of solid set irrigation and is operated under a non-discharge permit.
Photo Credit: Town of Surf City
• In November 2019 we completed a 4 year project to replace 16 zone valve at the Sarge Martin spray irrigation site
• Continued plant and spray field maintenance
• Plant and spray field operations
• Sampling, process control, and lab operations
• Installation of 3 actuators
• Addition of data from 3 flow meters to SCADA
• Ongoing soils and hydrology work at Juniper Swamp
Parks and Recreation
The swings have been installed and opened. We will be installing an inclusive swing once the parts arrive.
Photo Credit: Town of Surf City
The shelter at Nelva Albury Park is completed. We are working to order picnic tables for the shelter now but will be placing temporary ones in there until the new ones arrive. This will close out the GoldenLEAF Foundation Grant Project. We will get the remaining funds of just over $27k from them once the final grant documentation has been submitted.
Photo Credit: Town of Surf City
The Hurricane Florence Paving Project is progressing and is expected to be completed by March 1st depending on weather, the following map shows the areas and treatment that is being utilized:
For additional information on current activities and opportunities with Surf City Parks, Recreation, and Tourism please visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/surfcitync/
Emergency Management attended the Quarterly North Carolina Emergency Management Area IV Coordinator’s Meeting hosted by Pender County EM. In these meetings, Emergency Managers from Area IV gather and discuss various topics and ideas. During this meeting we discussed ongoing recovery efforts associated with Hurricanes Florence and Dorian, upcoming disaster exercises, the kickoff of the State’s Know Your Zone (KYZ) campaign and more.
Emergency Management is in the process of coordinating a disaster resource acquisition and deployment project, partnering with South Carolina Emergency Management to acquire Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) and bottled water. These items will be strategically stored and used to provide our community with a food and water contingency plan, at no cost to us. This project is possible thanks to our relationship with the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC), who received notification that South Carolina Emergency Management was in the process of disbursing MREs and water from one of their strategic storage sites. We were notified by Joe Hillis, the Operations Manager for ITDRC, and he coordinated the introduction with South Carolina EM personnel. Not only did Joe and the ITDRC help us out tremendously with communication and IT infrastructure post Hurricane Florence and in preparation for Hurricane Dorian, but they now have helped us get in a position to better serve our community, especially nearing the beginning of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. We can't thank Joe and the ITDRC enough for their continued support!
The Emergency Operations Plan has graduated from the peer-review phase and has moved into the legal review phase. The Town’s legal counsel will now review the document and make any legal suggestions or modifications as needed.
EM is currently reviewing the capability and capacity of the new Town Hall facility for Emergency Operation Center operations and defining the criteria and process for EOC activation. Such activation will necessitate some moderate changes to physical room layout and equipment, but we feel confident that we'll be able to achieve operational goals for the facility in due time.
I will be attending the Southeastern Regional Hazard Mitigation Planning Team meeting in the coming week. The Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan is a state coordinated and funded comprehensive planning document that includes Pender, Onslow, New Hanover, and Brunswick counties, and all of the municipalities contained therein. These meetings afford stakeholders from each of these jurisdictions, along with private, commercial, and non-governmental entities, the ability to interact with each other, and influence the overall product outcome. This document also meets the FEMA local jurisdiction requirement to have an adopted Hazard Mitigation Plan in place before being deemed eligible to apply for federal disaster funding.
Preparation for the upcoming budget year is underway. I am currently conducting project feasibility studies for some potential capital projects and expect to have those studies complete before the first budget review.
Call for Service: In the past couple of weeks the police department responded to a total of 78 calls for service. This number incorporates officer initiated calls, such as traffic stops in addition to our traditional calls; such as reported calls, crimes in progress, assist citizens, traffic accidents, warrant service, etc.
Investigation Division: Detectives have an active investigation for felony larceny on S. Topsail Drive. After a three week investigation a Surf City tobacco store was charged with five underage sales of tobacco.
Tips: Any narcotics leads/tips from town employees or the general public are encouraged. Administration Meeting: Topics of discussion were 2020/2021 budget and the new police department building electrical/data layout plan.
Employee Spotlight: Congratulations to Officer Ryan Butschle who was recently promoted to Police Officer I.
Training: Officer Benson and Hackett are attending field training officer course at the justice academy. Lt. Voorhees successfully completed the recertification process to maintain his certification as a firearms instructor. Sgt. Korney, Sgt. Houser, Det. Sgt. Hartsfield, Detective Cable, and Detective Holloman all successfully completed intoximeter recertification.
Building Repairs: The police department is in the process of replacing six windows on the building along with other minor repairs.
Onslow County Women's Center: The Surf City Police Department signed a memorandum of understanding agreement with the Onslow Women's Center and all Onslow County law enforcement agencies last week. This agreement is to create a standardized method of responding to and providing services to victims of domestic violence.
North Carolina Anti-Counterfeiting Trademark Task Force: The police department also signed a memorandum of understanding to assist the Department of The Secretary of State to help them in identifying counterfeit trademark merchandise. Detective Sergeant Hartsfield is our trained task force member.
2019 Annual Report: The 2019 Annual Report is posted on our website. Please follow the link to review:
Surf City Police Department Annual Report
Battle for The Badge Charity Event: Surf City officers will be participating in the Battle for The Badge axe throwing event in the coming weeks at Surf City Guns. They will be competing against other law enforcement agencies in the region. The money raised for this event will go to a local charity.
5 Year Strategic Plan: As briefly mentioned in the last weekly, each officer was given an assignment to complete a required goal. Some of those assignments include public safety announcements, enhance public safety awareness using social media, situational awareness for merchants, firearms simulator training for citizens day, sharing crime prevention information with HOA’s, enhance city camera equipment, traffic safety education and explore online reporting and retrieval. These will be completed by assigned officers and presented at our next quarterly meeting in April.
Crime Prevention Training: Off. Fehling, Captain Johnson, and Chief Ron Shanahan enjoyed spending time at Mia’s Market staff last week. Topics of discussion were fraud, shoplifting, sleight of hand, and video camera systems. This was an open Q&A session. If you would like us to come visit your business and speak with your staff, please feel free to call our office.
The fire department has responded to 24 emergencies since the last update.
Fire department personnel have completed 17 fire prevention inspections. Chief Hobbs continues to work with Chief Burton to get up to speed on the transition from Fire Captain to Fire Marshal. This transition is crucial with the amount of growth and building we are witnessing in Surf City.
Fire department personnel attended a Pender County School Safety Committee Meeting this week. Items of discussion are based on safe operations of all Pender County Schools. Training on several types of school related incidents will be coming in the next few weeks. Fire Department personnel will be engaged in these trainings with law enforcement and EMS personnel.
Chief Wilson has been meeting with Pender County’s new Emergency Management Director to discuss ongoing issues such as continuity of service, emergency planning, disaster response, etc. There is also a county-wide fire service study that will be starting in the next few weeks to look into the strengths and weaknesses in the current fire delivery system for the county.
Fire department personnel continue to assist Pender County with the new CAD software upgrade.
Fire department grant season is upon us. Captain Speakman has been busy applying for local grants to replace our out of date RIT Packs (these are backup safety breathing devices for firefighter rescue). The Federal Assistance to Firefighters’ Grant has opened and Chief Wilson will be working on a grant to install diesel exhaust capture systems for both fire stations. Firefighters are at a higher risk to develop job related cancer and diesel exhaust has been identified as a known carcinogen that increases those risks substantially. Neither of our fire stations have any type of diesel exhaust capturing system.
Six fire department personnel have started the Emergency Medical Technician course at Lenoir Community College. This is a 240+ hour course to train firefighters how to provide pre-hospital emergency care. Having six personnel wishing to complete this training is a huge benefit to the residents and visitors of community.
Fire department personnel are continuing to develop specifications for a new fire engine. Several personnel traveled to Rocky Mount to look at some different styles of apparatus. Plans are being finalized to go look at what some other municipalities are doing with their apparatus specifications.
The work continues to the upstairs training room/EOC at Station 25.
Personnel are continuing background work on possibly implementing a beach condition flag program as directed by the council. They are also working on updating the open burning ordinance, specifically commercial/land clearing open burning.
Firefighter Van Pelt is working on some social media posts to spotlight Black History Month and how African Americans have integrated into America’s Fire Service.
The fire department would like to welcome its newest fulltime firefighter, Mr. Heath Collins. Firefighter Collins has been a part-time firefighter with Surf City for almost a year. He has spent the past few years as a fulltime firefighter with the Wilmington Fire Department. Firefighter Collins is going to be a great addition to our department.
We have signed off on our fixed cost offer from FEMA for Town Hall and the Old Ward Building. We will be receiving $1,142,985.58 for the old Town Hall and $570,563.98 for the Old Ward Building. Combined, this $1,713,549.56 will be bundled with our insurance proceeds and funds received from the GoldenLEAF Foundation to construct the new Town Hall. It's anticipated that these funds will be here wiithin the next 30 days.
Our Tax Collector received 376 property tax adjustments from Pender County Tax Office. Staff is currently reviewing these adjustments. These adjustments are reductions in property tax values due to Pender’s recent revaluation process in 2019. Pender County is set on an 8-year revaluation cycle while Onslow County is set on a 4-year revaluation cycle. At this point we are not certain the overall net effect these adjustments will have on our property tax revenue but have requested this information form Pender County. I will update you on these figures once we receive the information.
We are getting ready to head into our FY 2020-2021 budget season. We will begin compiling our budget documents in preparation to send out to all department heads within the coming weeks. Please be on the lookout for these soon.
The majority of my time for the past couple of weeks has been managing support requests and completing tickets. Some of the items include system and server maintenance, account creation, account deletion, and archival as well as troubleshooting PCs, printers, and networks for town staff.
Fire Station 23 has been brought into the fiber network. Without getting into too many details, the old router has been removed from the management server and new routing completed. I am currently monitoring the site to confirm stability.
Fire Station 25 is receiving a networking overhaul. All of the networking equipment for upstairs has been received and installed. Configuration of the equipment is planned for the first of next week. Also, some new equipment for the downstairs network room is in the works in preparation for the new AP’s and phone systems.
The quotes for the new VM server have been received. They were slightly over expected costs and I am back into negotiation to reduce costs.
I am now going over budget in preparation for the upcoming year. I have scheduled meetings next week with our vendors to put some preliminary numbers together.
Topsail Area Chamber of Commerce
Announcement: We have received the 2020 Area Guides! Anyone that wants to display them can pick some up at the chamber or we could drop some off.
February 19, 2020: Topsail Chamber BOD meeting at 8:30am at the Chamber
March 14, 2020: Greater Topsail Casino Night at Oceans Edge 6pm-10pm
Submitted by Jourdan WhiteEagle, Communications Coordinator, The Greater Topsail Area Chamber of Commerce: email@example.com