Commissioners talk renovation projects after honoring a lost friend, former member Helen Moody Bucker

Posted 2/17/21

SILER CITY — The town’s board of commissioners honored a former member at its Monday meeting before examining potential modification to its sewer infrastructure and agreeing to proceed with city …

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Commissioners talk renovation projects after honoring a lost friend, former member Helen Moody Bucker

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Posted

SILER CITY — The town’s board of commissioners honored a former member at its Monday meeting before examining potential modification to its sewer infrastructure and agreeing to proceed with city hall renovations.

Helen Moody Buckner spent most of her life in Siler City. For 21 years, she served on the town’s board of commissioners, the last four of which as mayor pro tem. She held a slew of other leadership positions in Chatham County including president of the Chatham Hospital executive board of trustees, first woman president of the Siler City Chamber of Commerce and membership on of the Chatham County Library board, the Occeneechee Council of Boys Scouts of America, the N.C. Museum of History Associates and the Siler City garden club.

On Jan. 30, Buckner’s “life ... came to an untimely close,” a board resolution in her honor said. The commissioners did not elaborate on the circumstances of her death.

“During her years of loyal service, she has earned the profound respect of area residents,” the resolution says. “... She served faithfully with exemplary conduct and a sense of fairness in furthering the growth of our community.”

The commissioners voted unanimously to pass the resolution and present a copy “with our heartfelt sympathy to her family.”

Sewer infrastructure

David Honeycutt of McGill Associates — an engineering firm with specialties in wastewater treatment and water resources, among other disciplines — attended Monday’s board meeting to present a draft of the firm’s proposed Siler City sewer system modifications.

The company was commissioned by Siler City staff to examine its water and sewer systems, but has only completed the latter review so far.

McGill concluded in its evaluation that to meet increasing demand and improve system reliability, the town must upgrade and expand its wastewater treatment plant.

The facility was last expanded in 1991 and is permitted to handle 4 million gallons of water (mgd) per day. In 2019, daily discharge averaged almost 3 mgd with usage volume increasing as development continues across town.

The main sewer interceptor is almost 60 years, Honeycutt said, and “has surpassed its expected useful life.” About 34 miles of sewer collection mains also require rehabilitation or replacement.

To remedy the situation, Honeycutt recommended several renovation and new construction projects to proceed over the next 20 years. The first and most pressing would be expansion of the water treatment plant capacity from 4 mgd to 6 mgd and upgrade of the main interceptor. The project could conclude by 2023, according to the McGill report, and would cost about $22 million.

All suggested projects together would cost the town $43 million over the next 20 years.

City hall renovation

The board of commissioners and town staff inched closer toward approving renovation plans for the city hall building on North 2nd Avenue in downtown.

The commissioners have deliberated in several meetings over what to do with city hall — whether appropriating funds for extensive renovation would be appropriate following a tough budgetary year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Town Manager Roy Lynch, however, encouraged the board to approve renovation plans and assured them of the town’s fiscal health. Renovations could begin with an initial cost of about $660,000.

“I really think we should consider what Roy is putting before us,” Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Bray said. “We can go ahead and do the repairs we need to do and as time goes by and things get better we can continue to upgrade the building.”

Bray suggested the town should act quickly while it has adequate funds to proceed.

“We all know they say (the pandemic) is getting better,” she said, “but we don’t know what’s going to happen in the future and we’ve got the money now, so I think we ought to consider doing something right now.”

The commissioners agreed.

“I think we’re well within our ability to do this,” said Commissioner Bill Haiges.

The board reached consensus to move forward with the proposed plans, but the contract will appear on the March 1 agenda for official approval.

Reporter D. Lars Dolder can be reached at dldolder@chathamnr.com and on Twitter @dldolder.

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