03/30/14 — Fremont moves ahead on STEP

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Fremont moves ahead on STEP

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on March 30, 2014 1:50 AM

FREMONT -- Despite having no contract from the state Department of Commerce for implementation funds, the town of Fremont is pushing forward with its Small Town Economic Prosperity team.

At a meeting Tuesday, the STEP team voted to appropriate $10,000 of the remaining $15,000 in planning funds to contract with the Eastern Carolina Council to produce a business development plan for the town.

"So far we have been making a whole lot of noise but we haven't been getting anywhere yet because we don't have any gas," STEP Team Chairman Keith Spivey said. "But we're gonna go anyway, even if it's on fumes."

The $100,000 in implementation funds promised as part of the STEP program is tied up in the Department of Commerce until the department can re-write contracts related to N.C. Rural Center programs.

The Rural Center's programs were taken over the Department of Commerce last year following questions surrounding the center's spending.

Until the department finishes the contracts the town's implementation money is untouchable leaving only planning funds to work with.

The business plan is expected to take about six months to complete, said Judy Hills, ECC executive director.

It was decided to begin work on the business plan as a starting point because the funds were available and the team saw the plan as the starting point for the rest of the projects.

"This is the one everything else is going to spring off," Spivey said.

Ms. Hills coached to team through its first motion, voting to enter into a contract not to exceed $10,000 to pay ECC to develop the business plan.

The motion was seconded and put to a vote which passed unanimously.

"The first step," Lamont Whitley said.

Mayor Darron Flowers was complimentary of Spivey's leadership.

"Your first vote as chairman is unanimous," Flowers said. "That's my kind of leadership."

Ms. Hills advised the STEP team could also vote to appropriate funds for the park master plan and plan to attract retirees.

The master plan is expected to cost $3,000 and the retiree plan $2,000, with both contracts also going to ECC.

The team was hesitant to appropriate the remainder of the planning funds in one night and a decision was deferred to the next STEP meeting April 22.

Fremont Police Chief Paul Moats was named as chairman of the committee to work on the town parks and STEP team secretary Joyce Artis was named chairman of the committee to develop the business plan.