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Ayden commissioners OK addition of school resource officer

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By Amber Revels-Stocks
The Times-Leader

Sunday, September 16, 2018

AYDEN — The Ayden Board of Commissioners has approved a resolution to hire a school resource officer for Ayden Elementary and Ayden Middle schools.

Pitt County Schools in August received a $466,000 state grant to fund school resource officers. The grant place at least 10 officers in schools around the county.

The school resource officer will be provided by the Ayden Police Department and funded entirely by the school district, according to Ayden Manager Steve Harrell.

“The enclosed resolution (authorizes) the town manager to execute the contract … for one year,” Harrell said.

The officer would split his or her time between the elementary and middle schools during the school year, then serve as an Ayden police officer during the summer months.

“We plan to open the position up in-house first,” said Chief Barry Stanley of the Ayden Police Department. “We’ll let the principals interview the applicants and help decide which person to hire.”

The full cost of the position is approximately $65,000, including salary and benefits. This does not include the cost of a vehicle for the school resource officer.

“How are we going to do this?” asked Mayor Steve Tripp. “If the officer is heading back-and-forth between both schools, it’s going to be an issue if they don’t have a car.”

Harrell said he believes the officer would be assigned a car similarly to the way other Ayden Police officers are assigned vehicles.

The board of commissioners recently approved a reduction in fleet for the department. Vehicles are assigned through a “hot seat” program, where each officer is given a car for a shift, then turns the car over to the next officer.

Commissioners Johnny Davis and Phyllis Ross opposed the fleet reduction. Tripp also has been vocal about his opposition to the reduction.

Stanley has reiterated his belief that the department would be able to figure out a way to work within the resources the board of commissioners allotted him.

Commissioner Mary Alice Davenport made the motion to approve the resolution for the school resource officer, which Commissioner Raymond Langley seconded. It passed unanimously.

Municipal police departments and the sheriff’s office fund school resource officers, then Pitt County Schools reimburses the law enforcement entities. Pitt County School now has 14 school resource officers at 12 schools.

In other news, the board:

• Approved a natural gas franchise agreement and compensation agreement with Greenville Utilities Commission. The board of commissioners had tabled the agreement twice because it would not cover all of Ayden’s residents.

Chief Administrative Officer Chris Padgett attended Monday night’s meeting to inform the board that GUC would extend gas lines to five additional areas, including the Kennedy Estates. GUC is extending the lines due to the town’s diligent work in reaching all potential natural gas customers, according to Padgett.

Langley made the motion to approve the franchise agreement, which gives GUC exclusive rights to provide natural gas in town. Mayor Pro-tem Ivory Mewborn seconded it, and it passed unanimously.

Langley made the motion to approve the compensation agreement. Davenport seconded it, and the motion passed unanimously.

•Discussed the possibility of supporting a dual corridor approach to N.C. 11. Ed Tyre brought the idea before the board, which voted to table it. The board wanted to discuss the idea with the N.C. Department of Transportation.

•Approved a request from Ayden Head Start to waive the rental fee for the classroom at the Arts and Recreation Building. This will allow the Head Start on East Avenue to hold parent meetings in a bigger space than what the building allows, according to Sandra Best. The fee is $50 to use the room. Mewborn made the motion to waive the fee. Langley seconded it, and it was unanimously approved.

•Approved three resolutions that would pursue a 20-year, zero-percent interest loan to rehabilitate a lift station on Third Street and two grants to complete asset inventory and assessment on the water and sewer lines.

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