04/21/10 — Officials: Fremont residents likely to lose their ABC store

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Officials: Fremont residents likely to lose their ABC store

By Laura Collins
Published in News on April 21, 2010 1:46 PM

FREMONT -- The Wayne County Alcoholic Beverage Control Board will decide today whether to close the Fremont ABC store, town Administrator Kerry McDuffie told the town board at its meeting Tuesday night.

The board was expected to vote today at noon.

McDuffie said he expects the board to vote to close the store.

The board decreased the number of hours the store is open about four years ago to 20 hours per week.

"We met with them last week and I don't know that there's much we can do to change their mind on that vote," McDuffie said. "I'm pretty sure it's going to be closed."

The closure would eliminate two jobs and decrease the revenue the town receives by about $2,500 per year, McDuffie said.

That would mean the closest ABC store for residents of northern Wayne County would be in Goldsboro, which has three stores.

In other business, several residents who attended the meeting urged board members to tighten their purse strings, regardless of the cost.

At the meeting, the town board held a public hearing about a USDA grant available to the Fremont Volunteer Fire Department. The grant is for $6,000 and will go toward a $40,000 project. The North Carolina Department of Insurance has also said it would give the town a 50 percent grant, which would pay for $20,000 of the project, leaving the town with $14,000.

Town Administrator Kerry McDuffie said essentially the town will need to spend $14,000 to get $40,000 worth of supplies and equipment for the fire department including turn-out gear and air packs.

But residents Chauncey Sims and Brenda Hicks repeatedly voiced their concern about spending the money for the fire department.

"Is it something that we really need?," Sims said. "Every day I hear we're in debt and every time I come here we're spending money."

Hicks agreed.

"It's not all free, we're going to have to pay a portion of it. My concern is that we're always crying broke ... Where is the $14,000 coming from," she said.

The money will be coming from the fire department fund, which is separate from the general fund, the electrical fund and the water and sewer fund.

Board member W.T. Smith, a 44-year member of the volunteer fire department, said the project covers the fire department's needs.

"This is stuff that we have to have. If we don't pay the $14,000 to get the grant, we're going to spend $40,000 to get the same supplies," Smith said.

He added the money will be coming out of the fire department's budget and will not affect resident taxes.

"People always run down the fire department, but they don't get up in the middle of the night to fight fires," he said.

The board followed the public hearing with a unanimous vote to approve the USDA grant and spending the $14,000 to receive the combined $26,000 in grant money.

Also, the town board decided on Municipal Engineering Services Co. in Garner to finish phase III of the town's sewer project. The third phase consists of fixing inflow and infiltration problems and patching sewer lines.

Also, the Fremont Branch of the Wayne County Public Library will be closed on Saturdays during May and June.