Voters in Havelock’s two precincts will likely be casting election ballots under the same roof in 2014.


Voters in Havelock’s two precincts will likely be casting election ballots under the same roof in 2014.



The Havelock Board of Commissioners approved a contract with the Craven County Board of Elections last week to make the Havelock Tourist and Event Center the polling place for the Havelock East and Havelock West precincts in primary, general and special elections.



The unanimous vote was part of the consent agenda during the city board meeting.



Havelock Commissioner George Liner met with Meloni Wray, director of elections for Craven County, on Jan. 7 for a walkthrough of the tourist center, setting the stage for the agreement.



“She was really impressed with the building and the facilities,” Liner said. “Plenty of parking, plenty of space — the facilities looked real good for her.”



The two-page agreement presented to the city by the Board of Elections calls for the city to waive its rental fee for use of the facility. The agreement would continue for a minimum of five years and renew indefinitely unless the city or the county provides notice of intent to terminate the agreement at least six months prior to an election.



“The only thing we’re waiting for is approval from the state board (of elections),” Wray said. “I don’t think there will be a problem. The packet’s been turned in. We got it in by the deadline of Jan. 21. We’re hoping to have this effective for the May, 2014 election.”



Wray said that voters in both precincts would be officially notified through a letter or voter card, and through legal notices published in newspapers. The change does not affect any other precincts in Craven County.



Liner said the city had been trying to move voting to the tourist center since about 2010.



“There have been a lot of roadblocks thrown up prior to this just due the regulations and such,” Liner said.



Liner said that he believed Havelock’s 10,403 voters would support the change.



“The comments that we’ve heard over the years is that they wanted one location that would be central for everybody,” Liner said.



The voting in the Havelock West precinct had been done at Tucker Creek Middle School and Havelock East precinct voting had been done at various locations, including Havelock City Hall, Havelock High School most recently the Havelock Moose Lodge.



Liner said Tucker Creek had insufficient lighting at night and the Moose Lodge had limited parking and was dangerous for candidates gathering in the parking lot for last-minute campaigning.



“I’m hoping that they’ll look favorably on it,” Liner said of the change. “It’s going to be a lot safer. It has everything. It has room for the candidates. It has plenty of parking. Distance-wise, it’s about the same for everybody.”



Wray said Havelock would still be split into east and west precincts. Voters would just cast ballots at the same location but in separate areas of the tourist center.



“They won’t lose their identity as the east and west precincts, even though they are voting under one roof,” Liner said. “The Board of Elections will still have the capability to record it by east and west. Nothing has changed other than the location.”



The location for one-stop early voting has not been finalized.



“My board will be voting on that on Feb. 5,” Wray said. “It will not be a city building. It will be a private building. We’re hoping that in the future that the city of Havelock will be able to house us for one-stop early voting.”



The primary election is scheduled for May 6, while the general election is on Nov. 4 and includes local races such as sheriff, county board of commissioners and board of education as well as state senate and house seats and U.S. Senate and House seats.



In other business, Havelock commissioners:



-- awarded its fiscal year 2013-14 annual audit contract to Martin Starnes and Associates for $24,550.



-- reappointed Liner as the board representative for the Local Fireman’s Relief Fund.



-- appointed Michele Leo for a seat on the Havelock Appearance Commission.



-- postponed its February budget planning retreat until March 11 and 12 at the West End Fire Station.



-- tabled proposed regulation changes on uncontrolled growth of weeds and grass until a future meeting. The changes are expected to address so-called “natural” areas in the city. Resident Inga DeRoche, who has complained to the city about such areas in her neighborhood not meeting current regulations, said during the public comment portion of the meeting that such areas are breeding grounds for rats, mice, snakes and mosquitoes, and she demanded action.



“I’m not putting up with it and I’ve had it and I’m not going to put up with it anymore,” she said. “From now on, I promise you all, the city members here, and you on the board, the city manager and everybody, from now on when they come to me and say ‘What kind (of snake) is that?’ I’m going to decide what it is. I’m going to put it in a can and I’m going to bring it here to the city manager because he’s in the office five days a week. Is this a snake or is this not a snake? So, for the last time, please do something.”