Photos and more comments have been added, and this article is complete!
It’s time for another meeting of Danville City Council and you know that SouthsideCentral is going to cover it LIVE!
The meeting starts at 7PM and we’ll start our coverage around 6:30 PM. You know how it works… refresh the page often for the latest happenings, photos, and whatever else we can come up with. After the meeting ends, we’ll fix the article up and make it look nice.
Get it? Got it? Good. Let’s make it happen.
6:40 PM – We’re going to get an update from the EPA and Duke Energy on the coal ash spill.
Connection problems are solved and we’re LIVE! OK, not solved. The wi-fi is down.
7:00 PM – James Buckner & Fred Shanks are not here tonight. That drops newcomer Buckner’s attendance rate to 50% (yes, that’s a joke).
National Night Out will be Tuesday, August 5th with the big event of the night being a celebration in Cardinal Village. Council will postpone the regular meeting until Thursday that week so that members and staff can attend.
EPA representative Myles Bartos takes the podium. Bartos thanks the city & staff for the help in the coal ash cleanup.
Selenium & arsenic were the key factors in doing more sampling. That was able to tell them where the two main deposits were. One in North Carolina, one right before the Schoolfield dam.
There was no real visual way to detect coal ash in the sampling. Kerr Lake had no detectable coal ash. Bartos says “river is safe to swim”.
EPA will not have a fulltime presence anymore. Sampling by EPA will be reduced to a quarterly basis. Gary Miller questions the less frequent sampling. Bartos says there is no need for more frequent EPA sampling based on scientific data. North Carolina and Virginia can do their own sampling and they will continue to do that.
Bartos says there is nothing from the coal ash spill that affects the Dan River. The “arsenic blisters” scare was completely false. Safe guidelines remain 2 hours of water exposure for 100 days a year (the same as it’s always been).
Davis Montgomery, regional director for Duke Energy, takes over. The last stages of demobilization are happening at Abreu-Grogan park. July 30 is the target date for reopening the park.
Water sampling and fish tissue sampling will continue from the state agencies. Montgomery addresses Miller’s concern by saying NC DENR has reported that there is no imminent threat from the other Eden coal ash pond and it will cleaned up as soon as the NC legislators agree on the timeframe in the law. Miller’s “The other ash pond is a ticking time bomb” issue is pretty much dead now.
John Gilstrap asks why doesn’t Duke start the cleanup before the NC bill is enacted? Answer: There is no imminent danger and Duke Energy needs to know the official rules. Fair enough.
Much less hostility tonight from city council (especially Gary Miller) once they’re talking to Duke Energy in person. Miller’s fire has been put out.
New Danville School Board member Steven Gould tells Council that he will start his “office hours” as promised. Hell yes. A school board member at a City Council meeting. It’s about time and Steven Gould “Gets It”/
Cecil Bridgeforth talks about property tax assessments. He says his assessments went down and he is concerned that the city will be going under income projections like they did with utility rates. It’s a fair point. He then talks about inconsistent meter reading dates and the breakdown of the utility bills. There’s no way to make meter reading dates be a perfect X number of days each month. That’s not going to happen.
He seems to not understand the difference between assessed property values and the real selling price. Then something about headlines of 2000 job losses.
No idea what he’s talking about. I figured it out. He was talking about the Chinese paper company that went to the Richmond area because the Mega Park wasn’t construction ready enough (that’s the main reason, even though the city won’t say that).
On to Council business…
Council will approve a 10% match for a special grant for new firefighter turnout gear. Gilstrap questions the budget amendment process. Joe King says that grants that require matching funds and are renewed every year could be put in the budget and not go through the amendment process every time, but this was a one-time grant that the fire department got. Committee appointments are made.
Special use permit for a horse boarding off of Westover Dr. passes 7-0 as does a donation of property bordering W.W. Moore detention home. It’s refreshing to see a perfectly easy special use permit with no objections.
A North Carolina company wants to move to the former Shorewood Packing plant. Council will back a loan to the IDA to buy the building and lease it to the company by a 7-0 vote. No idea on who the company is yet…
Around the horn time.
Larry Campbell talks about the Job Busts and asks Joe King to explain the process on how the city is changing the due diligence in checking the companies out. King says the city is much more careful is evaluating the potential for success and putting safeguards into the contracts to report their financials to the city.
Gary Miller throws a little blame back at the Tobacco Commission for recommending some of the Job Busts.
And we’re done! Thanks for reading tonight’s LIVE! coverage. More coming up on SouthsideCentral!