Princeville’s Board of Commissioners on Monday night approved additional patrols by the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office following a discussion that grew heated after Commissioner JoeRoam Myrick repeatedly asked about data to support the call for additional coverage.
“All the data I need, I’ve got,” Commissioner Linda Joyner said. “My house was vandalized ... other properties have been vandalized. I’ve got all the data I need.”
But Myrick persisted in his call for supportive data, saying he did not believe a call report sheet provided by Sheriff Clee Atkinson.
“No way there’s 174 calls in Princeville,” he said.
A member of the audience pointed out that number was a countywide number, but Myrick wanted more.
“How about that murder?” one woman asked. “The other night, there were five shots that I heard while I was up working. I turned my computer off ... turned my lights off and went to the back of the house. How many more incidents do we need? Do we want a reputation where this is all that’s going on?”
Myrick tried to point out that his intent was to promote conversation, but a voice from the back of the room said, “We’ve got all the data we need. We need protection. Just exactly what is the concern over adding additional policemen?”
Commissioners made the decision to add two more days and to increase the hours of coverage provided by the Sheriff’s Office but to not make public when the deputies would be patrolling.
Senior Center Director Linda Worsley said the town needs to re-establish its police department, but resident Calvin Adkins Sr. pointed out that with the town’s $800,000 budget, “You all probably can’t do that.
“I would suggest saving up your money until you have the funds to establish a department,” Adkins said. “Look at other communities, like Rocky Mount, where they have a large police department and they still have these same problems.”
Commissioners also approved a contract with Oakley & Collier for the renovation of the Senior Center and the Museum and Welcome Center and the administration of the two projects, as well as approving a $6 million grant from the state that will allow for the acquisition of 53 acres annexed into the town and planned to be used as the lynchpin of the recovery, as it is outside any existing floodplain.
Additionally, the $6 million will be utilized to purchase public works equipment, the restoration of the museum and debris removal.
Town Manager Glenda Knight said the debris is identified as being associated with Hurricane Matthew, although she said she suspects there are areas in the town where debris has remained since 1999’s Hurricane Floyd.
Commissioners also discussed the Disaster Risk Reduction Program and the options of elevation or buyouts.
Mayor Bobbie Jones said the program is focusing on buyouts in areas that repeatedly have been flooded or are low-lying.
“They are saying if a house cannot be elevated, then they (the homeowner) must accept a buyout. That’s not good for me,” Jones said.
Roosevelt Higgs told the group his mother had accepted a buyout and it was the best thing that ever happened.
“If you’ve got an opportunity to get to higher ground, don’t love that land that you’re on so much that you make a bad decision,” he said.
Commissioner Milton Bullock said he had accepted a buyout.
“My first flood was in 1940, and I’m tired (of being flooded),” he said.
There are 75 properties in Princeville that are eligible to participate in the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which has $1.125 million available.
It also was announced that the swearing-in ceremony for commissioners Linda Joyner, William “Bo” Johnson and Alvin Jones will be held at 6 p.m. on Dec. 19 at the Temporary Town Hall at 3003 N. Main St. in Tarboro.