MURPHY, N.C. – A dispute over the name of a road was presented to the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners during their Monday, March 19, meeting.
On the agenda was Anthony McCray, who is a 25-year resident of Lambert Road in Marble. McCray told the commissioners the road had formerly been known as Lower Vengeance Creek Road until the change to Lambert Road during a 911 addressing process in 2014 and he would like to see it restored to its previous name.
County Manager Randy Wiggins explained he was told that the road never had an official name according to 911 addressing records prior to the name of Lambert Road, which was named after one of the four property owners on the road, Ronald Lambert. Wiggins also stated no file of the name change petition from the four property owners could be found on record with the county.
In his complaint, McCray stated, “I just don’t think a road name should be in a surname when there’s different families living on the same road.” McCray also spoke directly to Lambert, who was in attendance at the meeting, and said he always considered him to be “a good neighbor” and whatever the outcome of the issue, his opinion of Lambert would remain the same.
Lambert spoke after McCray saying, “The reason the road needed a name is because I’m a North Carolina licensed foster parent (and) once a year, the fire marshal comes out to my house to inspect my house. He said since there’s more than three residences on the road, the road must have a name. He looked at me and said, ‘You own two of residences, the other one is up for sale, I going to name it Lambert Road.'”
Lambert also said he did not know whether or not there was ever a petition among the residents to change the road. He further explained McCray does not receive his mail on Lambert Road but rather on Pisgah Road in Andrews. Ultimately, Lambert stated he wished for the road to remain Lambert Road, citing that changing his foster licensing to reflect a new address through the state would be troublesome and costly to him. Lambert also stated McCray is the only resident on the road that has an issue with the name.
Commissioner C.B. McKinnon stated that because no paperwork of the name change seems to exist on record, the road could rightfully revert back to Lower Vengeance Creek Road. However, he also said changing the name back to this would be pointless since a majority of the residents are content with its current name: “It looks to me like (the other residents) are going to change it right back to Lambert Road.”
McKinnon asked McCray and Lambert to try to settle the dispute themselves and the item was tabled by the board.
Earlier in the meeeting, John Higdon, executive director of facilities for Cherokee County Schools, presented the board with a budget amendment to use the half-cent school sales tax fund for a lump sum purchase in the amount of $367,707 for a number of maintenance expenditures at various schools throughout the system. The expenditures are a result of the findings of a finance subcommittee of the Board of Education organized to address needs of the school system.
The amount will cover six maintenance and repair projects, including a $343,900 project to replace the roof of Andrews High School gymnasium and cafeteria, a $1,537 expenditure to cover half the cost for a new scoreboard at the softball field at the recreation park, a $2,485 purchase for new stools at the Murphy Middle School cafeteria, a $6,500 storage building for Hiwassee Dam School, a $9,973 sprinkler system upgrade for the Murphy High School football field, and a $3,312 infield upgrade at the baseball field at Hiwassee Dam High School.
The budget amendment was approved unanimously.
A ground lease for a Med-Trans air medical transport modular office unit at Western Carolina Regional Airport was discussed by the commissioners. The commissioners reviewed a draft of the lease and Commissioner McKinnon pointed out three issues with which he noted concerns with the lease draft. It was also mentioned that the price of the lease, which would exist through Nov. 30, 2022, should be set at a fair market value instead of $1 per year.
Approval of the lease was tabled until changes to the draft could be made.
A pro-rated contract for legal services from Smith Rodgers, PLLC to the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office was approved. The contract in the amount of $3,645 provides legal consultation services from Feb. 26 through June 30, 2018. At the Feb. 19 commissioners meeting, the board approved for the Sheriff’s Office to enter into a one-year agreement with Smith Rodgers beginning July 1 and approach the legal service with the prospect of establishing a pro-rated contract with Smith Rodgers until the lease takes effect this summer.
Two purchase requests from the Cherokee County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) were approved for the total amount of $6,225. The requests included a purchase of an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) rescue trailer that would transport a patient and a rescuer from a remote location to a waiting ambulance and a purchase of further equipment for the trailer that would allow for better immobilization of a patient placed in the trailer.
Commissioners Gary Westmoreland and McKinnon told of their recent trip to Washington D.C. and the White House. Westmoreland said he and McKinnon met Vice President Mike Pence, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson. The commissioners also participated in a meeting involving other North Carolina commissioners concerning infrastructure.
“President (Donald) Trump is going to have – I think – $260 billion in infrastructure money and $50 billion that’s dedicated to rural infrastructure,” Westmoreland said.
In that meeting, the commissioners were told to have a countywide plan for local infrastructure improvements in place by May.
“And this is something that’s new,” Westmoreland said of the meeting. “(Previously) the president’s office would never work with local government. This is something that (Trump) wants to do.”
McKinnon stated he was appreciative of the opportunity saying, “It was a once in a lifetime trip.”
Two upcoming commissioners meeting dates were changed during this week’s meeting. The April 16 meeting was changed to April 23 and the May 7 meeting was rescheduled to May 10 in an effort to accommodate the May 8 primary election and to allow for an evenly balanced meeting schedule, according County Manager Wiggins.