Stallings resigns from Preston commission
PRESTON — At a time when the Preston town commissioners are tackling the challenging wastewater treatment plant upgrade project, their president resigned Monday, Dec. 19, at the last work session of the year.
Jerry Stallings, who has been a member of the commission since September 2013, is moving outside the town limits and no longer can serve as a commissioner.
“I’ve loved working with the commissioners and the planning and zoning committee,” Stalling said as his eyes filled with tears. “I appreciate the opportunity to work on the town commission.”
“You can always volunteer to serve on committees; you don’t have to live in town.” commissioner Doug Vanderveer said. “You will be missed.”
The same sentiment was expressed by town manager Stacey Pindell, who has worked closely with Stallings on finding funds for the wastewater treatment plant upgrade project.
“Well, Jerry, we appreciate your service,” Commissioner Gary Waltemeyer said, as the four other commissioners and 11 attendees nodded.
In other business, Chris Rogers, a professional planner with AECOM overseeing the WWTP upgrade, asked the commissioners to give their blessing to the draft implementation schedule.
Rogers handed out copies of the draft schedule to the commission. Now that the feasibility study has been completed, the design, bidding and construction phases of the WWTP upgrade will take almost three years to complete.
The WWTP design phase is expected to take about a year, from the date the design contract was signed on Nov. 17 to its completion on Nov. 1, 2017.
“MDE wants you to address certain milestones,” Rogers said. “That’s why we’re giving ourselves a year to get the design done and get permits. We’ve always said we want to be conservative in your favor.”
The draft schedule projects advertisement for the construction phase to begin Dec. 1, 2017, with bids opening three months later. Construction is projected to begin April 18, 2018. The commission will vote on the schedule at the Jan. 9 meeting.
Other individuals and groups reported to the commissioners. Russell Dukes, a volunteer firefighter for 49 years, is beginning his third stint as president of the Preston Volunteer Fire Company.
“What lapse of judgment did you have?” Vanderveer asked Dukes, prompting laughter from the attendees.
“We’re working on 253 calls this year,” Dukes said. “I think Stacey (Pindell) has got my number on speed dial.”
Dukes told the commissioners invitations for the fire company’s annual banquet on Feb. 18 will be sent out after the holidays. Dukes wished everyone a “nice, quiet new year.”
Bunky Luffman, the new Salisbury-based Intergov- ernmental Affairs Eastern Shore Liaison for Gov. Larry Hogan, introduced himself and stayed for the entire meeting. The former mayor of Delmar, Md., Luffman’s territory includes the nine counties of the Eastern Shore and their 56 municipalities. The Delmar native said he will “facilitate issues towns may be having” and attending town meetings on the Eastern Shore four days a week.
Concerns about undesirable businesses locating in Preston prompted planning and zoning committee Chairman Bob Lorenz to ask the commissioners to look into establishing an adult business ordinance similar to Denton’s. Town attorney Walter Palmer, who lives in Denton, said he will email Denton’s ordinance to the commissioners.
Lorenz updated the commissioners on construction within the town limits. Eight pieces of playground equipment were to have been installed in the town park by mid-December, but weather has delayed the installation of five pieces. Stallings said they should be installed “this week or next.”
At the Dec. 5 town meeting, Lorenz had reported the existing lagoons annexed to the town were zoned R2, single family and two-family residential. In the meantime, however, Lorenz determined that the new WWTP is a permitted use in an R2 zone.
A Caroline County tax differential meeting has been scheduled for Monday, March 7 at the Preston Fire Hall.
Vanderveer said that with two years and four months left in Stallings’ term, a special election would require a 30-day advertisement period.
Town resident Kathleen Barry said she was going to bring up the topic anyway, but in light of Stallings’ resignation, she asked the commissioners to consider reducing the number of commissioners back down to three from five. “It’s one way we can begin to cut the budget down,” she said.
As he adjourned his last meeting, Stallings wished his fellow commissioners and attendees a “merry Christmas and a happy new year.”
Jerry Stallings, center, resigned from the Preston Town Commission at its work session on Dec. 19. Elected three years ago, Stallings was commission president. Chatting with him after the meeting were Bunky Luffman, the new intergovernmental affairs Eastern Shore liaison for Gov. Larry Hogan, and Preston resident Kathleen Barry. In the background is Commissioner Gary Waltemeyer.