Animal shelter, waterway debris removal to be discussed

The Craven County commissioners are expected to get an update on two local projects during their meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at the county administration building, at the corner of Broad and Craven streets in New Bern.

The seven-member board will receive updates on the county animal shelter and on creek-snagging of debris from local waterways.

In July 2016, Craven County awarded a contract to DanCo Builders for the expansion and renovation of the animal shelter.

The project is progressing well, according to staff who will present an update on the project to commissioners, who will ask questions of staff if necessary.

In another matter, Gene Hodges, assistant county manager; Patrick Baker, conservation technician and Chad Strawn, assistant planning director, will update the board on the current creek snagging projects.

For Little Swift Creek, initial debris removal work is complete. During inspections it was noted several areas of debris for the contractor to remove. Beaver trapping and dam removal is still ongoing. Through late February, there had been 68 beavers trapped along with the removal of 16 dams.

Initial debris removal work is now also nearly complete on Swift Creek.

The Harlowe Canal project is complete, with a verified inspection after all pre-marked debris and trees were removed.

As a result of Hurricane Matthew, Tropical Storms Julia and Hermine and the Western N.C. wildfires, the state legislature approved the Disaster Recovery Act of 2016, which will provide more than $200 million in state funding for disaster relief and recovery efforts.

Of that $200 million, the N.C. Division of Soil and Water Conservation will administer $10 million for stream repair and debris removal.

The board will also hear that the county has been awarded $674,245 for stream debris removal activities, with no county match involved.

The Craven Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors met to prioritize the streams needing debris removal.

The 21 stream segments were grouped into four categories with prior completed streams receiving the highest ranking and new streams receiving a lesser priority.

As actual costs of projects are determined, the streams within each grouping will need to be prioritized.

Also on Monday, animal advocate Tyker Gonzalez said she would speak during the public comment period about proposed dog tethering regulations in the county. She is on a crusade to ultimately make it illegal to keep dogs permanently tethered in either Craven County or the city of New Bern, neither of which currently have tethering laws.

She said the county is considering a tethering law, one she says doesn’t go far enough, as it still allows dogs to be tethered “around the clock.”

She points to the presence of tethering laws in a number of other counties and cities across the state, and argues that tethering is cruel and dangerous — both for the dog and for the public.