City utilities earn accolades


Staff Writer

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Monday was a good day to be a public utility worker in Rocky Mount.

Returning electric utility crews were met with praise for storm restoration work while the city's gas utility received two prestigious national awards during the afternoon meeting of the City Council.

Crews from Rocky Mount and Tarboro went to Laurinburg last week to assist in restoring power after Hurricane Florence. Their efforts were highlighted in a big thank you email from Laurinburg Utilities Director Jason Lighthall.

“It doesn't seem like these words are enough to show the gratitude that I or the city of Laurinburg have for the work that your crew performed for us in our time of need,” Lighthall stated in an email that was read aloud Monday. “The crew you sent down were work horses.I think any supervisor would be proud of the way they handled themselves and the work they accomplished and also the way they stayed at it. They wanted the toughest things we had and never complained once.”

The utility accolades continued with Bert Kalisch, president and CEO of the American Public Gas Association, presenting the city with the Gold System Operation Achievement Recognition Award and the Public Gas System Achievement Award, a safety recognition.

Rocky Mount is the only recipient of the SOAR award this year, and only one of two gas utilities in the nation to have received the award twice. The award demonstrates excellence in four categories: System integrity, system improvement, employee safety and workforce development.

The Public Gas System Achievement is given to a public natural gas system member that has expressed a willingness to exchange ideas and technology with others to ensure the gas industry will be the safest and most knowledgeable of all utilities. Rocky Mount is one of 2,000 electric and 1,000 natural gas public utilities providing nonprofit services in the U.S.

The mayor also proclaimed Oct. 7-13 as Public Power and Public Natural Gas Week in the city.

The council postponed talk about the city's new ordinance banning parking of commercial vehicles and trailers in residential areas.

Council members approved a change order with Barnhill and Holt Brothers for the Rocky Mount Event Center, which provides for construction and amendment of the CMTS construction management contract without increasing the project's budget.

Councilwoman Lois Watkins asked to receive an update soon about the plan to hire at least 30 percent minorities at the Event Center. She said the council hasn't received such an update since its retreat earlier in the year.

During the meeting’s public comment session, two residents asked the council to consider setting up an animal advisory committee.

Stacy Graham said there is a correlation between violent crime and animal abuse and she wants the council to establish a committee to explore possible answers to the problem of animal neglect and abuse. Another resident said she called police about a wounded dog and didn't receive attention until the next day.

After the meeting, Interim Police Chief Willie Williams asked for and received the women's contact information from Mayor David Combs.