ESTO — Esto Town Council held their first public hearing and approved moving forward with the steps necessary to pursue any available Community Development Block Grants that might be available to the town.

ESTO — Esto Town Council held their first public hearing and approved moving forward with the steps necessary to pursue any available Community Development Block Grants that might be available to the town.

The council members decided to pursue the grants during their Sept. 3 meeting, as recommended by Town Grant Writer Dennis Dingman.

“These grants are for communities who want to attract businesses but there’s no infrastructure,” said Dingman. “If the community doesn’t provide the infrastructure, such as water and sewer connections, then the business would have to. In this case we got lucky because Dollar General was willing to do just that to be able to bring their business here.”

Dingman said that they would pursue housing, commercial and economic development grants.

“This will cover all possible grants,” he said. “You just have to do it once so that you won’t have to revise it every time a new grant comes out.”

Council tabled the proposal from Palmer Electric Construction Co. to install radios, cables, an antenna and surge protectors at the wells for the amount of $3,575 to be in compliance with the Department of Environmental Protection.

“My only problem is that we’ll not only have to put this in but we’ll have to maintain it and we still need a phone line to these wells for communication and control purposes,” said Town Council President Danny Powell. “I want to see if we can get the phone company to put us a line in and maybe it’ll be cheaper.”

The council agreed with Council Member James Daniels request to get quotes on repairing and replacing any fire hydrants that are damaged or leaking.

They also agreed with Daniels’ request to monitor the Town’s sidewalks.

“We’ve been getting numerous complaints about people blocking the sidewalks with their junk lately,” said Daniels. “I’ve seen it myself where someone had their large freezer right there on the sidewalk. That’s state property and if the Department of Transportation catches them they’ll either give them so long to move it or they’ll fine them.”

The council also agreed with Pauline Wells, a representative of the National Caucus and Center on Black Aged, Inc., as she explained about bringing in a state and federally funded program to train the local elderly population in current occupational skills.

“The workforce is at the mercy of the young because they are trained with the skills required for the current technology in today’s workforce,” said Wells. “We take those 55 years and older and we improve their learning skills so that we can get them employed with local non-profit and government entities, such as libraries and government offices.”

The council also discussed giving Water Operator Bill Austin a $50 raise to his monthly salary and at first it died due to lack of motion.

The council approved of a one-time $50 raise with Council member Darlene Madden voting “no.”

“I think there’s people out there looking for work all the time and if we give it to him then we’d have to give it to everyone,” said Madden. “We’re not happy.”

The council agreed to Powell’s suggestion that Austin be required to attend the council’s monthly meeting and that if he can not attend then he should send a detailed report of the month’s activities for the Council to review.

Madden reported that they are going to purchase a shotgun from King’s Drug Store as a raffle to raise money for the Two-Toe Tom Festival.

“We’re also going to put a 10-foot by 10-foot brick patio beside the building,” said Madden. “The bricks will be engraved and the patio will be called for things remembered. We’ll charge $100 for anyone who wants a message engraved on each brick and it will be in honor or memory of someone or it can be an announcement of someone’s birth or anniversary.”

Madden said that she’s still looking into signs to be put on the park’s fence for businesses to advertise for $100 a year.

“The only thing I see that could be a possible drawback is that we’ll have to maintain those signs,” said Powell. “If something happens to those signs under our care it will be our responsibility to replace them.”

Madden also added that she was looking to put a possible newsletter on the Town of Esto’s website.

“Just be careful of the content,” said Town Attorney Jeff Goodman. “You don’t want to put up anything that could come back to bite you later.”

The next Esto Town Council meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Oct. 1 at the Esto Town Hall.