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County seeks intersection improvements near Conley

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James F. Rhodes

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By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Pitt County leaders have signed off on resolutions seeking funds to install traffic control lanes near D.H. Conley High School and in support of maintaining the state’s ABC system as is.

The Board of Commissioners on Monday unanimously adopted the first resolution seeking money from the N.C. Department of Transportation’s “High Impact-Low Cost” fund to install a deceleration lane and left turn lane at the intersection of N.C. 43 South and Edwards Farm Road.

James Rhodes, Pitt County’s director of Planning and Development, told the board that a high volume of traffic heading to D.H. Conley High School uses Edwards Farm Road.

Over the years Conley administrators have encouraged students to use that road instead of Worthington Road to access school grounds, Pitt County Schools spokeswoman Jennifer Johnson said. This year the school is allowing students to access the school from either road.

Since 2002, traffic on Edwards Farm Road has increased 67 percent to more than 500 vehicles a day, Rhodes said.

The volume of traffic on N.C. 43 South has increased 22 percent, to more than 8,800 vehicles a day since 2002, Rhodes said.

“It’s a lot of students making turn movements and a lot of people trying to get into town to work,” Rhodes said.

Drivers making left turns onto Edwards Farm Road often disrupt traffic traveling north on N.C. 43, Rhodes said. A left-turn lane will give drivers a place to wait while allowing northbound traffic to continue into Greenville.

The Greenville Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization has identified the intersection as a place where improvements are needed but it hasn’t been included in the state’s Strategic Transportation Prioritization program, Rhodes said.

Local officials with the state Department of Transportation suggested a resolution from the commissioners could expedite funding from the high impact program.

ABC resolution

The board voted 8-1 to approve a resolution calling on the General Assembly to maintain the current state operated Alcoholic Beverage Control system.

Some lawmakers have suggested the state should adopt a licensure process that would allow private businesses to sell liquor. Max Joyner Jr., current chairman of the local Alcohol Beverage Control Board, asked the commissioners to adopt a resolution opposing any changes.

Commissioner Ann Floyd Huggins said Pitt County’s budget includes a $1.3 million appropriation from the local board that is generated from tax revenues. It’s been suggested local governments would see a decrease in revenue if the system is privatized.

Other commissioners expressed concerns about increased alcohol consumption if liquor can be purchased at local grocery stores or big box retailers.

Commissioner Christopher Nunnelly asked the board to consider “an alternative viewpoint” before adopting a blanket resolution opposing privatization.

“My concern is that if we keep doing things the way we have we could be hurting a burgeoning micro distilleries industry and potentially providing a boon for larger producers of spirits,” Nunnelly said.

There is a small distillery operating in Washington, N.C., he said. While some states have seen tax revenue decrease with privatization, others have seen revenue increase.

“I think there is a lot more to consider here than what meets the eye,” Nunnelly said.

“The revenue that is generated from that board is very substantial for the county if we would take that away what type of affect would that have,” Commissioner Melvin McLawhorn asked. County Manager Scott Elliott said $1.3 million is equal to one-cent of the county’s property tax rate.

Nunnelly was the lone no vote on the resolution.

Other business

■ Laura King executive director for Center of Family Violence Prevention delivered a report on her efforts to launch a Family Justice Center in Pitt County.

The center is a facility that locates service providers in a single office to work mainly with victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. Having representatives from various agencies work together limits the number of times a victim has to tell their story and ensures there is no gaps in services, King said.

King is pursuing a three-year grant to fund research and development of the center. She said she isn’t seeking county dollars but if the project is funded she wants a commissioner to participate on a board that will research what agencies should be part of the center.

■ Deputy County Manager/Chief Financial Officer Brian Barnett reported the county received a “Distinguished Budget Presentation Award” from the Government Finance Officers Association for its fiscal year 2018-19 budget document. It’s the 22nd year the county has received the recognition.

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570.

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