Frankford council looks into police, car

Members of the Frankford Town Council agreed at their monthly meeting on Aug. 7 to continue to look into both hiring a police officer and purchasing a used Crown Victoria police vehicle for that officer to use.

Police Commissioner Greg Johnson reported that he had already arranged to meet with Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin to get some help in developing a job description for the Frankford police position, and his fellow council members suggested getting McLaughlin’s input on the potential police-car purchase would also benefit the town.

Council Member Thomas Esender said he was particularly concerned that the town might purchase the used vehicle, and pay for registration and new tires, only to discover after hiring the officer that the vehicle wasn’t suitable or in good enough shape for that officer to use.

McLaughlin’s input might help determine that ahead of time, Esender said, emphasizing particularly the need for any police vehicle to be able to idle for extended periods of time.

Council President Robert Daisey told his fellow council members, “We need a firm commitment to go ahead with the police project.” If the council had that commitment, he said, they should proceed with the purchase of a vehicle.

Johnson noted that the Sussex County Council had committed to giving the town a grant for police services, such as it has offered to many local towns in recent years — many of which have used it to purchase new police vehicles.

Daisey said that if McLaughlin’s input was positive on the vehicle purchase, the council might even schedule a special meeting prior to its next regular meeting, just to approve the purchase of the vehicle and get the process moving.

Salt by the truckload

Town Administrator Terry Truitt requested council members approve the payment of some $2,989 in salt costs, saying that until the town’s water system was fully back on line, and with rising salt costs, she’d needed to order salt “by the tractor-trailer load.” Council members unanimously approved the payment on a 4-0 vote (Council Member Pamela Davis absent).

Clarence Quillen, reporting from the water department, noted a number of recent leaks in the water system, all but one of which had been repaired. That one, reported Aug. 4 on Thatcher Street, was to be fixed in the days after the Aug. 7 meeting. Quillen also reported that quotes for work on the system were expected around Aug. 11.

Daisey said that news on the town’s water plant was coming in slowly, with a recent visit by potential bidders on the project on two days the prior week. He said he expected a firm proposal could be hoped for in the near future.

Council airs Mountaire gripes

Mountaire Inc. representative Sam Parker received a mixed greeting from the Frankford council members on his first time attending a council meeting. (Parker is an 11-year Mountaire employee but is new at the Frankford facility.)

Truitt noted that she had called Parker in response to some recent complaints about feed being spilled around the town and that he had immediately agreed to come to the meeting to talk to council members.

Johnson told Parker that he was concerned about potential damage to the paint on cars when owners could wash their cars one evening and find the same haze of feed over the finish the following day. “I’m getting tired of it,” Johnson said.

Parker said the company would be looking into regularly sweeping the streets and possibly changing equipment to help reduce the presence of feed residue on the streets and in the air of the town. But, he said, “The nature of the industry is that you’re going to have some emissions.”

He said the company would examine a sweeping schedule and work to fine-tune it to keep the impact on the town to a minimum.

“In time, we will develop a good relationship,” Parker said of the interaction between the town and poultry company. “Or, at least I hope we will.” He noted that the town provides services such as sewer and water to Mountaire and said they had proven reliable.

Council members also aired concerns over the behavior of some Mountaire drivers. Daisey said some of the drivers had been playing “chicken” with other drivers on the streets — particularly on Daisey Avenue — and that they needed to show some consideration for other users of the roadways.

“Hot-dogging is uncalled for,” Daisey told Parker.

And Council Member Jesse Truitt noted his own recent run-in with a Mountaire driver, who Councilman Truitt said had told him to move or he’d run him over. Councilman Truitt noted that he owned the property the driver was attempting to cross and was willing to make a literal stand by blocking access if such behavior continued in the future.

On all counts, Parker said those kinds of behaviors were against Mountaire policy. He asked anyone having problems with the drivers — Mountaire’s own or outside contractors — to report the problems to him as quickly as possible, and to make sure to note the tractor-trailer’s assigned number to better identify individual drivers.

Parker promised a lecture to the full staff of Mountaire drivers at their next meeting and said poor individual behavior could be punished with a few days of unpaid leave.

Fall festival planned

Johnson said he had been looking into the town holding another fall festival, possibly in October, bringing together the car show usually held in May (and not held this year) with a parade and trick-or-treating activities for the town’s children.

Council members said they hoped the Frankford Volunteer Fire Company would continue to organize the parade, while they offered up sponsorship and organization of a car show to area car clubs. Saturday, Oct. 28, was selected as a likely date for the event, which would incorporate trick-or-treating at the town park in lieu of townwide trick-or-treating, as was done successfully in 2005.

Also at the Aug. 7 town council meeting:

• Terry Truitt noted that the council’s September meeting will be moved from Sept. 4 to Sept. 11, due to the Labor Day holiday.

• Thanks were issued by Terry Truitt to Maynard-Esender for repairs to a town-hall chair that had broken. Esender was quick to note, with a laugh, that they were not in the business of such repairs but had been happy to be of service. (Esender later declared a second chair, broken during the council meeting, to be beyond repair.)

• Building Inspector/Maintenance Supervisor Jim Reardon reported that a recent storm had done some damage at the town park, breaking a few tree limbs. The damage had been cleaned up, he noted. Reardon also reported replacing a sign at Reed and Honolulu streets, which he noted had already been on the receiving end of some attempts at stealing it again.

• Reardon reported “blowing out” a water line at Cedar Lane, after a complaint about water quality. He noted that such dead-end lines would need extra attention as new residents moved in.

Reardon also reported the apparent theft of approximately 100 old, “hard to get” copper and brass fittings for the town’s water system, accumulated over decades. He said no evidence of a break-in was seen but noted that the building shared a common lock with all the town’s water facilities.

• Esender told council members that he had confirmed Delmarva Power was willing to donate some utility poles as a possible solution to illegal tractor-trailer parking on town property. But to get the potential barrier material to the town had proven a problem, he said.

The town is still seeking someone with a large enough vehicle to transport the 60-foot poles. Esender said he felt the tall poles were needed to block the area because shorter ones could be too easily removed.

• With Streets Commissioner Davis absent, Daisey reported personal concerns about a utility pole on Reed Street. Daisey said a car had clearly “taken out” the entire pole, which had subsequently been replaced by Delmarva Power. But Daisey said the light on the pole had not yet been replaced.

He asked Terry Truitt to look into when that might happen and whether a separate crew would do it. Daisey also noted a still-dangling section of telephone pole that was apparently originally attached to the damaged pole.

• Esender reported that his committee planned work on the town’s comprehensive land-use plan (CLUP), with a meeting set for Aug. 23 from 6 to 8 p.m. He said officials were to review the draft plan prior to the meeting to allow plan experts to bring additional information to that meeting, with a public workshop on a final draft to be held in the near future.

• Council members discussed get-tough measures for those delinquent in their town property tax payments. With about a dozen such property owners, the town will be looking letters from the town solicitor and certified mail to ensure they have been notified before possibly proceeding to liens. Terry Truitt noted that two of the properties owners had had mail returned to the town as undeliverable for a period of years.

• Council members discussed the procedure for a variance that would allow a property owner to move a home from outside the town. An ordinance designed to stem a tide of old beach “shacks” that were “dumped” in the town prohibits such moves, and possibly moves within the town, Esender noted. Council members said proving to the Board of Adjustments that the proposed project was “worthwhile” would go a long way toward the granting of a variance.

• Resident Jerry Smith continued to assert that a six-unit development on Reed Street did not meet town requirements for a 45,000-square-foot minimum lot size. He said the survey the town had accepted as proving the new lot boundaries allowed for permits to be issued was only a “proposed” survey and thus not finalized. But town officials said they had accepted the applicants’ survey as was standard practice and expected the lot would prove to have the required minimum size.