10/06/04 — Chief: Inspectors say Princeton Town Hall is 'a dump'

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Chief: Inspectors say Princeton Town Hall is 'a dump'

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on October 6, 2004 1:59 PM

PRINCETON -- Two Johnston County building inspectors have called the Princeton Town Hall "a dump."

Police Chief Eddie Lewis said the inspectors made the comment after a tour of dilapidated buildings in Princeton.

Lewis would like to have a new town hall so that the Police Department would have adequate space and privacy. He explained that if he is interviewing a juvenile, any visitor to the department could see who it was.

"We've outgrown where we're at," the chief said during Monday's town board meeting. "It's not conducive to a good work environment."

The town board meetings had been moved to the Community Building to accommodate residents and visitors.

To replace the existing Town Hall, the town would need a feasibility study to explain why it is out of date, Mayor Don Rains said. The town does not have a large tax base, he noted, and is funding costly sewer repairs. If a new town hall were built, he said, it should be in the downtown.

The town's contracted engineer, C.T. Clayton Sr. of New Bern, said he has talked to a federal official about the feasibility study and has obtained a proposal from an architect. Clayton said he would provide a project program, an evaluation of potential sites, a preliminary cost estimate, a final report and preparation of a grant request for $14,650.

"If you can show this is for the betterment of the community," Chief Lewis said, "your chances of getting funding approval are much greater. We don't need separate buildings. We do need a degree of privacy that we don't have now."

The board talked about a steel-frame building with brick veneer and a stick-built town hall. The frame building, several said, would be much cheaper.

"All we can do now is to explore all avenues," Lewis said after the meeting.

The inspectors, meanwhile, found eight buildings that needed to be improved or demolished and suggested that five more places needed improvements.

Printers sought

Lewis also announced that he was trying to get a grant for printers and video cameras for his police cars.

Printers will be needed so that a suspected traffic violator can get a copy of the officer's citation. In the future, Lewis explained, the citation would be transmitted electronically to the Johnston County Clerk of Courts Office.

"We wouldn't have to keep up with them and take them to the clerk's office the next week or find one behind a filing cabinet," the chief said.

The printers, at $883 each, could be funded with drug-seizure money. But Commissioner Walter A. Martin Jr. said the town might get them for free from a grant applied for by the clerk's office.

Lewis also said he was working to get a grant from State Farm Insurance for video cameras for two cars.

Halloween schedule

The town board agreed that Halloween will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, for children from 4 to 12 years old.

Lewis also told the board that he had picked up four teen-agers early Saturday at Princeton Methodist Church. They had violated the town's 10:30 p.m. curfew for those 15 and younger.

When the chief notified the parents, Lewis said, it "was not a pretty sight."