KFP: Officials discuss Neuse flooding solutions

About 100 local and county officials from several counties, emergency management, and representatives from three congressional offices met at the Woodmen Community Center to conduct a Neuse River Basin roundtable and discuss solutions from building a dam to cleaning debris from the Neuse River.

Michael A. Sprayberry, director of the N.C. Division of Emergency Management, said the ideas from the dicussion would be used to help create a Neuse River Basin Plan.

“We’re working together to try to harvest ideas, work as a group with one voice to try to implement some good strategies to deal with the flooding,” Sprayberry said. “There’s already some dredging going on in some counties but I think what we want to do it craft a plan. But I will tell you there is no one solution. There’s going to be many different courses of action that we take to craft an overarching solution, and it’s not going to happen immediately.”

Sprayberry said Hurricane Matthew provided an impetus to start focusing on a solution.

“But I would like to say the leadership of Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy – he’s so energetic and motivated and solutions oriented and so I think that his leadership has really help us focus on this,” he said.

Murphy said he was very pleased with the response and pro-activeness from state partners, emergency management, environmental quality and Lenoir County emergency services when responding to flooding caused by the Neuse River, like before and after Hurricane Matthew last year.

“What we understand is there will be another hurricane,” Murphy said. “There will be another flood and there’s a bigger challenge in reducing the next hurricane’s or flood’s impact on our region than it is to dole money out for flood relief. It’s a much bigger challenge, much bigger task.”

Thursday’s meeting was the beginning of facing those challenges, Murphy said.

“That coalition is what’s going to carry this ball and actually move it forward to have true flood prevention,” he said.

The solution could come in several forms, from building a dam, a dry retention pond, snagging and dragging the river to clean it out or even helping Raleigh with its water supply challenges, Murphy said.

“It’s going to be an all-of-the-above-approach,” he said. “Not one of them is going to be the super bullet to make this work.”

The Army Corps Engineers, which had representatives at the meeting, will be essential to any solution, Murphy said.

But it will take congressional support to fund a Neuse River Basin Study for the Army Corps of Engineers to work on a project, he said.

There has been Neuse River Basin studies done in the past, one in 1965 and a couple since then, leaning more toward an environmental focus, Murphy said.

The new study will have to focus on infrastructure, like a dam, or other ways of dealing with the tremendous volume of water and not necessarily focus on impacts to animal habits. That study has been done. The focus now should be on the flooding impacts to homes and businesses, Murphy said.

“The question is how much does it cost us to study and fund and implement the appropriate changes ahead of the next major disaster versus the cost of doling out money to say we’re sorry this happen to you,” he said.

Gifton Mayor Billy Ray Jackson said his town, which is at the confluence of the Neuse River and Contentnea Creek, has had its share of flooding and the drainage problems have got to be corrected.

“We get flooded,” he said. “We had Floyd. It was devastating. Then there was Irene and Matthew. We’ve really got to get together, everybody who is touched by those two bodies of water, and see what we can do. I don’t know if we can eliminate it, but maybe lighten up the problem a little bit would be a big help.”

Jackson said he wants to hear from the Army Corps of Engineers.

“And what I would like to hear from them is that these bodies of waters that have been neglected for so long could be dredged,” he said.

BEFORE and AFTER – Street Light Replacements

Back in 2011 the City of Kinston took advantage of a Transportation Grant from the NC State Energy Office. Through this grant we were able to replace 811 high pressure sodium lights. After the sale of our nuclear and coal power plants in 2015, we began replacing the remaining 1,240 HPS lights. This project was completed this summer.

WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
Street lights are paid for with General Fund property tax dollars. The 2,000+ street light replacements will save approximately 880,000 kWh over the next year, which is enough to power 67 houses yearly. The LED’s also have shown to require less maintenance and they last longer. Now that they’re all installed we’ll be able to gauge the cost savings over the next Fiscal Year. As an FYI – in FY10/11 the street lighting account was $244,034 and our budget for FY16/17 was $182,000.

Update on Reliable Electric Power

Since Kinston reduced electric rates by an average of 10% in 2015, we’ve already changed all street lights to LED, saving our taxpayers money.

We also started work on a second Point of Delivery for our power supply, thus reducing our dependency on one source. The unfortunate and recent OBX power outage is a great example of relying on a single Point of Delivery.
With the electric rate reduction, we also saved enough cash to implement a smart grid system that gives customers more control. You’ll learn more on this as we move forward.

The 4th major improvement was upgrading 2 of our largest circuits with new poles and lines to handle increased customer demand.

In this year’s budget, we’re upgrading the poles and lines for one of our major business thoroughfares – Vernon Ave. Stay tuned for those upgrades.

And we’re implementing all these upgrades WITHOUT a single rate increase. Special thanks to our incredible team at Kinston Public Services.

Mayor Murphy Announces Re-election Bid for 2017

Thank you, family and friends, for your attendance today.

A little more than six months ago, our beloved community was faced with a calamity like it had never seen before. Flood waters were rising and threatening to destroy our city when I and other leaders stood on the picnic table just a few yards away and prayed in unison. Our community banded together in a way that it has never done before. Neighbors helped neighbors, and we were one people with only mission in mind: recover from this awful flood.

There is still much work to be done in the aftermath of those frightening times, and we must not forget our friends, business owners and neighbors who are still struggling. But there are many successes to celebrate following those terrible times, including the re-opening of nearly every business that was affected and the continued support of federal and state agencies in rebuilding.

Similarly, the City of Kinston has faced two devastating decades of declining population and a shrinking tax base. But through the sheer determination of forward-looking entrepreneurs, a steady manufacturing base, an engaged civic community, sound policies and teamwork at every level of city government, Kinston is in the beginning stages of an economic comeback that many didn’t think was possible a decade ago. We are doing the impossible.

Our community is experiencing a Renaissance right before our very eyes. Our downtown is bustling, professional baseball is back, crime is down and momentum is on our side. The past seven-plus years have seen a reduction in electric rates, more streets resurfaced and the removal of blight.

And although we are making incredible strides engaging our youth, business community, religious leaders and civic institutions, I promise you the BEST is YET to COME!

Serving my hometown as your mayor has been one of the greatest honors of my life. It has been my goal to make life better for every single person who resides within these city limits, and I have worked hard day and night to make that goal a reality.

As a husband and father of two girls, I have a vested interest in creating and facilitating an environment so that our community thrives. My girls, your children, and your grandkids deserve the absolute best that our community can provide.

Therefore, today I am announcing that I am seeking a third term as the Mayor of the City of Kinston.

Friends, supporters, and others can engage my campaign via our newly redesigned website at www.murphyformayor.com and connect via social media with @bjmurphy360.

Lastly, we ask for your prayers for our family, this campaign, and our beloved City of Kinston.

2017 Sand in the Streets Schedule

Had someone ask for the 2017 Sand in the Streets schedule a couple weeks ago and again tonight. Here’s what I received from Pride of Kinston:

Sand in the Streets 2017 Concerts
Pearson Park
Kinston, North Carolina

June 8 – Spare Change
June 22 – Blackwater Rhythm & Blues
July 4 – Pizazz
July 20 – Super Grit Cowboy Band
Aug 24 – Roman Sams Band
Aug 31 – Band of Oz

Moen Expands in Kinston – 35 Jobs

Today we broke ground for Moen as they expand their Kinston, NC facility. They are investing $15 million and adding 35 new jobs here! We are thankful for all the community partners who have made this happen and looking forward to another 30+ years in our community.

Senator Thom Tillis Visits Kinston – Hurricane Matthew Relief

Rest assured that the movement we’ve started discussing options for flood prevention has already reached the halls of Congress. We are building a coalition along the Neuse River Basin to ensure this conversation is happening with our Federal and State Leaders. Here’s a story from yesterday’s meeting with US Senator Thom Tillis and NC House Majority Leader Representative John R. Bell, IV.

“A member of North Carolina’s federal delegation was in Kinston Thursday to talk flood relief.

Republican Sen. Thom Tillis met with business owners, city officials and county officials from Kinston, Goldsboro, Seven Springs and Greenville to discuss how flood relief efforts are progressing six months after Hurricane Matthew.”

http://www.kinston.com/news/20170414/sen-thom-tillis-visits-kinston-to-access-flood-recovery

 

Opening Day – Down East Wood Ducks

I woke my girls up this morning with an excited shake telling them we’ve worked for 5 years to bring baseball back to Kinston. FIVE YEARS!

Also this morning at a Lenoir County Public Schools Legislative breakfast, LCPS Board Chair Jon Sargeant spoke about doing the impossible in our schools and he referenced this very day…the day we welcome professional baseball back to where it belongs. Our community is doing something many thought could not happen…the impossible!

The field is ready! The stadium is in incredible shape thanks to our City Management, City Council, and Kinston/Lenoir County Parks and Recreation Dept.

And we’ve ordered beautiful weather for you. 😉 See you tonight #DEWD fans! Let’s go Down East Wood Ducks! Thank you Texas Rangers!

Hurricane Matthew Six Months Later

Six months ago today, I left the house about 4pm to pick up a sappy movie for my wife at the Redbox, then I would swing by the Kinston Public Services operations center to say thanks to our employees working the 24 hour service calls through the heavy rain, and off to the Kinston Department of Fire and Rescue to say hello to Chief Crawford. You see the spaghetti model shown was the projected path of #HurricaneMatthew as of 6:51 am. One of the other pictures I took was in front of Bojangles on Vernon Avenue at 2:30 am the next morning…amazed at the number of abandoned cars. Little did we know the true path, the amount of rain from Raleigh to the coast, and the number of lives that would be lost.

I never made it to the fire station as we opened our Emergency Operations Center around 5:00 pm, effectively calling a curfew for our 21,000 citizens. As I watched our Kinston Police Department, Fire, and Kinston/Lenoir County Parks and Recreation Dept. professionals literally triage over 300 rescue operations in Kinston alone, it became apparent that the City of Kinston employees are some of the finest in the country. And, that we work with the best and brightest at Lenoir County Emergency Services, Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office, North Carolina Department of Public Safety, NC Emergency Management, and North Carolina National Guard.

Because of their tireless bravery and training many lives were spared.