Forum topic surfaces at meeting

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 7, 2004

WINTON – A discussion born during a political forum in Ahoskie last week continued to grow here Tuesday.

After adjourning into its official capacity as members of the Northern and Southern Rural Water District Board, the Hertford County Board of Commissioners began conversing on the subject of rural water service to the Harrellsville area. That topic was part of last week’s forum at the Shaw University CAPE Center in Ahoskie where Harrellsville Mayor Robert Dantz pressed Commissioner Dupont Davis for an answer regarding when the Harrellsville Township would be added to the county water system.

Hertford County Manager Don Craft kicked-off Tuesday’s discussion by offering a brief history of public water being offered in the Harrellsville area.

&uot;In 1992, the Harrellsville Mayor, not the same one that currently serves that town, informed the county that his town was going to apply for an FHA loan and use that money to supply water to the town and the surrounding rural area,&uot; explained Craft. &uot;They only went as far as their money would allow them, laying about 60 percent of the water lines in that area.&uot;

Davis said he responded to Dantz’s inquiry, attempting to offer an explanation of why the county had not added the Harrellsville Township area to the county’s rural water district.

&uot;We will provide water to the citizens of Hertford County where it is economical and feasible,&uot; said Davis. &uot;I seemingly failed to get that point across to Mr. Dantz at the forum.&uot;

Davis said he was upset with the way News-Herald columnist Jim Sullins made him appear as a defeated politician following his ill-fated dialogue with Mayor Dantz.

&uot;After failing to make my point with Mr. Dantz, I did return to my seat and I did place my head in my hands, but it wasn’t in defeat,&uot; stated Davis. &uot;Rather, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get my point across to Mr. Dantz, so, instead of continuing to attempt to offer an explanation, I simply went to my seat and sat down.&uot;

Returning to the Tuesday’s topic of discussion, Craft answered his own question by saying, &uot;Will we help Harrellsville (with providing county water), yes we will, if they are in need of our help.&uot;

Craft continued, &uot;We didn’t object back in 1992 when they expressed a desire to help themselves in landing FHA funding and supplying their town and outlying areas with water. However, they did learn the same lesson we learned when we went with offering water in our rural districts – some of these roads are so sparsely populated that it just isn’t feasible to run the water lines.&uot;

Craft said if the Harrellsville Water District had chose to run lines in every area of their township, &uot;the monthly costs to their users would be enormous.&uot;

Tuscarora Beach resident Marshall Askew, a Board of Commissioners candidate in the upcoming primary who attended Tuesday’s meeting, verified Craft’s statement regarding the fact that the Harrellsville Water District did not run lines throughout the Township.

&uot;My wife’s family lives in the Harrellsville Township and I remember them signing-up for a water connection, but they were never connected,&uot; stated Askew. &uot;The water lines just stop at many points in the Township.&uot;

Craft added that if a feasibility study proved it cost-effective, the county could possibly add portions of the Harrellsville Township to the county’s rural water district.

&uot;We already have a main line running in their direction, stopping now at Nucor,&uot; he noted.

After the meeting, Davis again was critical of Sullins’ column that appeared in Saturday’s (July 3) edition of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald.

&uot;Mr. Sullins led the readers to believe that I didn’t know a town from a township, but I completely understand the difference,&uot; stated Davis. &uot;He also mentioned that I didn’t know I was speaking with the Mayor of Harrellsville. I can assure Mr. Sullins that I know who Robert Dantz is. I’m growing tired of the way Mr. Sullins is portraying my character in the newspaper.&uot;