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Commissioners celebrate medics’ 50th work anniversary

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NASHVILLE — County commissioners honored two Nash County paramedics Monday for having served the county as emergency medical service providers for more than 50 years.

Cleveland Hunt and Ricky Turner began serving with Nash County EMS in 1969 and joined the agency full-time in 2006, EMS Director Scott Strufe told commissioners. Hunt is currently serving as a paramedic on an emergency ambulance and Turner is the county’s convalescent coordinator.

“Over the past 50 years, they have witnessed the evolution of health care in our community,” Strufe said. “They have comforted and saved countless citizens of Nash County. Both bring an enormous amount of experience and wisdom to our organization. I am unaware of another case of a fulltime EMS provider reaching 50 years of continuous service.

“I don’t think we can express the level of appreciation they deserve,” he said. “They’re supermen as far as we’re all concerned.”

“We go out and try to save life,” Hunt said in response. “Thank God we have the chance.” He thanked commissioners for their financial and other support of the county’s EMS programs.

“I stuck with it, I love it, and I’ll carry on,” Turner said.

Commissioners took turns profusely praising the two men and, with the audience, gave them a standing ovation.

“Fifty years is a long time to do anything,” county board Chairman Robbie Davis said. “The board greatly appreciates your service.” He particularly praised the medics for their cooperation in the development of the county’s merged EMS system.

“Thank you for your service, your passion and your dedication,” said Commissioner Sue Leggett. “They’ve been a role model for the rest of the county.”

“I appreciate the influence you’ve had on the people behind you,” said Commissioner Dan Cone.

“I’ve known these men pretty much all my life and I value what you’ve done for Nash County,” said Commissioner Wayne Outlaw. “You’ve done a great job.”

“It shows the kind of people we have in Nash County,” Davis added.

Strufe said later that though the two paramedics are weighing their retirement options, Monday’s recognition was not a retirement ceremony.

“I just wanted to bring their accomplishments to the board’s attention,” he said.

In other business Monday, the commissioners voted unanimously to amend the county’s unified development ordinance to add “sporting goods store, bicycle shop” as a permitted retail land use in the RC rural commercial zoning district. The category is already permitted in the GC general commercial zoning district.

The action was taken at the request of Paul Engram, who wants to open a hunting and fishing shop in an existing commercial bilding on N.C. 43 in an RC district. The change was endorsed by the county’s technical review committee and the planning board.

A “sporting goods store, bicycle shop” is a commercial land use that includes the retail sale of sporting goods, sporting equipment, bicycles, bicycle parts, bicycle accessories, firearms, ammunition, hunting equipment, bait and/or fishing tackle, said county planning director Adam Tyson.

Noting that all those goods could be sold secondhand in pawnshops, which are permitted in RC zones, Tyson said “it did not seem like much of a leap to allow this particular use in the RC zone.”

There was no opposition at the required public hearing.

Ending a long delay from 2016’s Hurricane Matthew, the county also received an agreement in July from the N.C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency in July for 2017 Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery infrastructure funds, which the county took a series of steps Monday to spend on an Elm Street storm drainage project in Nashville.

The federal funds total $455,114 and complement a previously awarded $500,000 Golden Leaf Disaster Recovery grant,” said Patsy McGhee, assistant to the county manager. The project will cost a total of $955,114.

The project encompasses the Nash County-owned parking lots and the Elm Street right-of-way from east of Alston Street and west of Drake Street, where the aging drainage system and torrential rainfalls from Matthew so damaged the system it needs to be replaced.

Commissioners amended a former block grant agreement with the state, shifting funds originally intended for housing to the state for implementation and revising the remainder to pay for the drainage repairs. The board also signed an interlocal agreement with the town of Nashville, which will own and maintain the system once the work is completed.

The board hired McDavid Associates of Farmville to manage the project and selected Stocks Engineering for the engineer work.

The county on Monday also approved a separate 2018 Community Development Block Grant neighborhood revitalization grant, again working with McDavid Associates, worth $750,000 in grant funds and $5,000 in local funds for street and housing improvements on and near Peele Drive in southern Nash County, north of and between Bailey and Middlesex.

Road improvements consist of converting a dirt road with potholes to a paved road built to N.C. Department of Transportation standards, with associated drainage improvements, which will be turned over to the NCDOT for future maintenance. Housing improvements include rehabilitation and/or replacement of about eight low- to moderate-income, single-family homes, mostly manufactured homes, on or near Peele Drive.

The road work was awarded to Tripp Brothers Inc. of Ayden, the lowest responsible bidder at $258,486.