By Natalie Anderson
LANDIS – The Landis Public Safety Department has said it has received around $ 30,000 in grants to upgrade equipment and expects tens of thousands of additional dollars.
At the meeting of the council of aldermen of Landis on Monday, the director general Diane Seaford gave an overview of the activity of the service during the previous year. Much of the year was spent organizing police and fire operations into a joint public security service after Director Zachary Lechette took the reins in December 2020.
The ministry has received at least $ 30,000 in grants and expects approximately $ 55,000 from two additional grants. The department received $ 25,000 from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety to purchase protective equipment such as gas masks. In addition, $ 5,000 from the Norfolk Southern Railroad Corporation will help the city purchase AEDs, or automated external defibrillators, for police vehicles.
The city is also receiving $ 250 as a partial reimbursement from the League of North Carolina Municipalities to replace ballistic vests for police and public safety officers.
Overall, the police department responded to 7,787 service calls in 2021. The fire department responded to 967. These include service calls and self-initiated calls.
Examining year-end calls for service, Alderman Katie Sells said she “didn’t denigrate anyone” but was disappointed not to see the names of Lechette or the deputy director of public safety Kevin Young, especially because officers work alone during the third shift.
The department has applied for and is expecting two more grants, including $ 50,000 from Firehouse Subs for the purchase of ARA cascade filling stations for the fire department and $ 5,000 for thermal imaging drones for the fire department. ‘fire. The $ 5,000 would be awarded by the League of North Carolina Municipalities, with a 50% match required.
Sells also said she was not thrilled with the department’s efforts to purchase thermal imaging drones when other departments in the county have them. Alderman Darrell Overcash said “there are other places the money can be spent”.
Seaford said they can help with workers’ compensation cases as they help assess risks and dangers to the responding officer, as well as missing persons cases and photo and video capability. during city events. The estimated cost for such equipment is just over $ 11,000, but Seaford said the department had only applied for the grant yet.
“This is an opportunity to add to our arsenal of items that we can use in the field,” Seaford said. “There is no guarantee that we would get the money, and if we do, you have the option of choosing not to participate. “
After discussion, the members of the municipal council approved a $ 50,000 amendment to the 2021-2022 budget. In November, Rowan County commissioners allocated about $ 1.2 million of its federal US bailout funds to each of the county’s 23 non-municipal fire districts as well as the county rescue team. by Rowan. The funds will be set aside in the capital expenditure of the general fund to eventually purchase back-up generators for the Landis and East Landis fire districts.
The city has added three new full-time firefighters and is now fully staffed, allowing each engine to have an officer, engineer and firefighter on service calls. The department is also welcoming Public Safety Officer Heather Marlin this week, as well as Constable Melvin Snipes, who will serve as the School Resources Officer at South Rowan High School. The ministry also extended a conditional job offer to fill a vacant position.
Earlier this year, the city approved the allocation of $ 14,400 from the general fund to purchase 13 Axon body cameras and 13 Taser 7 technology tasers, which were partially funded by equipment sales. surplus in the past year. Both devices are used by the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office and the Salisbury Police Department. A total of $ 8,000 is allocated in the fiscal year 2021-2022 budget, with a cost of $ 22,000 each year thereafter for the remainder of the five-year contract.
Seaford recalled that earlier this year, the city gave pay increases to part-time firefighters, who will now earn at least $ 12 an hour. Agents working the third shift received a pay raise earlier this year of $ 1 an hour. Also this year, the fire department improved its ISO rating from 4 to 2. The new rating applies to both the Landis Fire Department and the East Landis Fire Districts, which serve the areas rural unincorporated county outside the city limits.
In other cases:
• City Council also held a closed session to discuss a possible legal contract for the acquisition of real estate. No action was taken.
• The city approved a letter to the Local Government Commission addressing a few concerns raised during an audit of the 2020-21 budget. In December, Tonya Thompson of audit firm Martin Starnes and Associates told members of city council that the 2020-2021 budget received “a clear opinion” without major concerns. However, “significant audit adjustments” were attributed to a number of corrections required for the city’s financial records. Additionally, the LGC reported Landis’ decision in the 2020-21 budget to shift money into the water and sewer fund and out of the electricity fund. Seaford said these concerns can be traced to staff spending last year focused on internal controls and operations, including the hiring of Chase Norwood as the city’s finance officer, in addition to improvements in the how income and expenses are reported and classified in the budget.
• City aldermen approved amendments and modifications to the Landis Development Ordinance to reflect updated information on properties, natural street and stream alignments and to decriminalize minor violations of the city code to comply with a new state law. The amendment also allows the city to make changes to the LDO to comply with state laws as enacted without seeking recommendations from the Landis Planning Board.
• Director of Public Works, Joe Halyburton, has been appointed to represent the city on the North Carolina Municipal Power Agency No. 1 Board of Commissioners, with Mayor Pro Tem Ashley Stewart named first alternate and Overcash named second alternate. Halyburton and Stewart were also named to participate in the NCMPA1 Rates Committee. The NCMPA1 sets the utility rates billed to residents each year. NCMPA1 owns a 75% interest in the Catawba No.1 nuclear power plant, located in York County, South Carolina, and operated by Duke Energy.
• Seaford said the city was working to plan a February budget work session as well as a session to discuss possible uses of the approximately $ 1 million US bailout funding.
Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.