At the Holly Springs Town Council’s Nov. 6 meeting, Police Department Chief John Herring and a crime analyst recently hired through a grant and shared between local municipalities discussed upcoming initiatives based on crime and traffic data. By layering data on vehicle accidents and crimes, locations with a commonality of incidents were identified
“We still have a very low crime rate,” Herring said. “We’re just identifying those areas that have greater issues.”
The police will be stepping up check points and partnering with businesses and home owners in the areas identified, Herring said. Areas identified included a section along NC 55 and Avent Ferry Rd., which had seen more larceny incidents. The area also includes some schools, Herring noted. Areas with a higher number of vehicle accidents included the NC 55 and Avent Ferry Rd. and Sunset Lake Rd. and Holly Springs Rd. intersections.
“Getting out and partnering with businesses, homeowners associations – our mere presence and those partnerships, in theory, will bring crime down in those areas,” Herring said.
He said vehicle crashes hopefully would be reduced in those areas also.
“You’ll see more officers in that area,” Herring said.
Herring discussed the recent recognition by AAA Carolinas, which identified Holly Springs as the safest traffic community with a population between 10,000-30,000. Herring recognized members of the Police Department’s traffic team. He said their efforts helped keep the town’s roadways safe and played a significant role in allowing the town to be selected for the award.
“This is just one more reason it’s good to live in Holly Springs,” Herring said. “It’s safe to travel our roads.”
The recognition was based on an analysis of crime statistics, the number of law enforcement officers per capita, traffic safety initiatives and more. Herring said the town has stepped up enforcement on driving while impaired, speeding, wearing seatbelts and more. The department also maintains a permanent child seatbelt checking station. Other initiatives include the Alive at 25 class the town is offering for young drivers. The class is being offered Nov. 17, from 9-1 p.m. at Town Hall.
Fire Department Chief LeRoy Smith updated the council on the department’s recent initiative to provide residents with information and safety checks. The department so far visited 329 homes, installing 108 detectors and more than 50 batteries. Smith said the department found that, of the houses they visited, 58 percent had either a bad battery, a bad detector or no protection.
Already, the department has seen the effort pay off. Oct. 23, the department was called to a fire off Douglas St. One of the assistant chiefs alerted firefighters responding to the call that a person with a handicap lived in one of the houses.
“We would not have known that had we not done our door-to-door effort,” Smith said.
After the fire was extinguished, Smith said that he was approached by one of the residents. The resident said that, a couple weeks before, the fire the department had placed smoke detectors next door. The resident heard that alarm and evacuated the house.
“It was an immediate success,” Smith said of the initiative.
Also at the meeting, the council awarded $15,000 in grants to community agencies. The Holly Springs Food Cupboard received $2,500. Receiving $2,000 were the Holly Springs High School PTSA; Golden Hawks Club, Inc.; Holly Springs Community Band; and Holly Grove Elementary ESPTA. The Holly Springs Rotary Club received $1,500.
Receiving $500 were the Holly Springs Women’s Club, Fuquay-Varina Emergency Food Pantry, Holly Springs High School Cheerleading, the Kraft Family YMCA, Interact of Wake County and Holly Springs Arts Council.
The council did not fund the African American Cultural Festival, which requested $500, or the Southern Wake Academy, which requested $2,500.
Former councilman Hank Dickson spoke during the meeting’s public comment period about community grants. He noted that recommendations called for thousands of dollars going to organizations based outside of Holly Springs. He said that, though the groups may claim the money will go to benefit Holly Springs citizens, it did not mean the council should take taxpayer money and send it out of town.
Town Finance Director Drew Holland reported on the savings the town is receiving from its recent refinancing of existing bonds and loans. The total the town is saving through the refinancing is $7,542,021.
The council approved a $375,000 budget amendment for parks and recreation. Parks and Recreation Director Len Bradley said the town will purchase $160,000 of playground equipment for about $80,000 with a grant from the equipment manufacturer. Plans call for playground updates and installations at Jones and Womble parks. The savings is to be spent on more equipment for Womble Park and permanent safety surfaces under all equipment. Bradley said the equipment will not be installed until spring or late summer.
“We couldn’t apply for those grants if we didn’t have the bond funds,” Bradley said.
Eddie Wilson of the Chef’s Academy in Morrisville, the professional winner of the Farmers Market chili cook-off, was recognized by the council. This year marked the town’s third-annual cook-off. With three professional and nine overall contestants, nearly 3,000 chili samples were served to about 1,000 customers. Celebrity judges decided the winner of the professional category.
Mayor Dick Sears also proclaimed November as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. A representative from the Raleigh/Durham affiliate of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network spoke at the meeting in honor of father, who recently passed away because of the disease.
“It’s a very serious disease,” said Councilwoman Linda Hunt Williams, who lost her father to the disease, also.
As part of the consent agenda, the council amended its multi-way stop sign policy, which reducing the minimum volume requirements. The council adopted budget amendments, transferring $8,475 in federal asset forfeiture funds to the drug enforcement line and approved more than $80,000 for loan refinancing and bond refunding costs.
The council also adopted an amendment allowing a minor subdivision on Rouse Rd. and amendments to the municipal records retention and disposition schedule. The council declared the mobile home at Fire Station 2 on Avent Ferry Rd. as surplus property.
Town Manager Carl Dean noted that the town is holding a public information meeting to discuss plans for the voter-approved parks and recreation bond. The event, open to the public, will be Nov. 15 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Hunt Community Center.