The Williamston Community Center is in the process of being purchased by local businessman Timothy Baise, according to city officials and Baise. Baise has been a resident of Williamston for nearly 20 years. The community center, located at 201 School St., is currently owned by the city. A deal is in the works to sell the historical building within the next few weeks. If delays occur, the hope is the building will be Baise’s by June 1 at the latest.
The April 20 school board meeting for Williamston Community Schools began with a public hearing about cyber-bullying amendments to the district’s Bullying Policy and Rules. Although the bullying policy had been updated in 2012, it was updated again to include cyber-bullying. Later during the school board meeting, the members of the school board unanimously voted to revise the policy to include cyber-bullying, which is defined as aggressive behavior toward another person that takes place via any type of electronic communication was never explicitly stated in the 2012 bullying policy. The updated policy says that any students who feel they’re victims of cyber-bullying should report the issue to their principal or assistant principal, whereas before that was only the case for bullying and/or hazing. After the meeting, many parents expressed joy that the update had been approved, including parents who don’t allow their kids much time on social media or the Internet, stating that regardless of how much time they spend on the Internet, the update makes them feel more comfortable allowing their children to spend time on the Internet.
Gary Wilson is a resident of Haven of Rest. He enjoys living there because he says he is a youngster and can help out the other residents. Wilson is 64. Agnes Dexter, a resident at Crosaires, feels she fits in with the other residents there age-wise. “We’re all getting close to the same category – 90 and beyond,” she said.
Williamston, a town known for small, kitschy businesses, is starting to gain fame for a new niche market, weddings. The idea began with Dawn-Marie Joseph, the owner of popular wedding businesses The Wedding Gallery, Gracie’s Place, Vivee’s Floral Market, and soon, the Blue Button Bakery. “While I put together a marketing company for the organization, it’s by no means me who is in charge,” explained Joseph. “A group of us have been meeting just to network. The thing we realized that we all had in common was the wedding industry.”
Since then, she’s expanded with multiple businesses in the wedding industry, all located in the downtown Williamston area.
On April 13, the Williamston City Council voted to develop a research committee regarding the Outdoor Furnace Ordinance and revisit it at next month’s meeting. The proposal was sent to the City Planning Commission for review. At the April 7 planning commission meeting, the commission voted four to three to ban the use of outdoor furnaces and sent its recommendation to City Council. Mario Ortega, planning and zoning administrator, brought back research after the March 3 planning commission meeting, which influenced the decision. City Council’s response was a 5-1 vote to create a research committee to find out more about outdoor furnaces and if they would have a negative impact.
The process has been ongoing and the complaints have been heard for a long time, but plans have been set to fix the stretch of road from the North Putnam Street intersection to West Church Street. City Councilman of four years Kent Hall said, “It is the street we hear the most complaints about. I am glad we are getting it fixed.”
The request for approval to seek bids for the West Church Street project was pitched by Scott DeVries at the City Council meeting on April 13. DeVries has been the city engineer and director of public works for five years and persuaded the council to unanimously approve the request. DeVries explained that the engineering company finished its surveying and design process, thus the time has come to move forward with the project.
On May 5, Williamston voters can expect to see the the school district asking them to pass measures which would allow it to renew their 18-mill operating levies. If the tax dollars are lost, the school district warns that a major budget crisis will occur. The 18 mills is about 8 percent of the district annual budget – or $1.3 million. A flier from the district says voting against the millage would result in cuts of about $712 per student. The state already provides $6,414 per student but according to the flier, the cuts would be “devastating to our schools.”
The 18-mill levy was approved in 1994 and renewing it would continue taxing local businesses on their property and not homeowners.
As spring blooms in Williamston, members of the Williamston Red Cedar Garden Club are getting ready for the events that the new season will bring. Roxanne Houghton, the garden club president, has many goals and objectives that demonstrate the passion of members. “(We want) to stimulate the love and knowledge of nature among amateurs; aid in the protection of native trees, plants, and birds; encourage home gardening and promote civic beautification; and aid one another in garden planting,” said Houghton. The Williamston Red Cedar Garden Club is always looking for new members who share a passion for the beautification of Williamston. Carol Grainger, community liaison for the club, noted that the next meeting for prospective members to attend is on April 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the Williamston Depot Museum.
One Friday evening at Crosaires, a group of about 20 people could be seen wandering around the lawn. In their wake they left a multitude of brightly colored Easter eggs. Saturday, April 4 was Crosaires second annual Easter egg hunt. Crosaires is an aging-in-community residence and provides assisted living for the elderly. Todd Walter is the owner and is the one who first came up with the idea for the hunt.
The Williamston City Council discussed updating McCormick Park’s wooden play structure at its March 23 meeting. The park is at the corner of Putnam and High streets. The city plans on working with the Williamston Sunrise Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club of Williamston and the Williamston Area Beautification Fund to pay for the project. According to Scott DeVries, community development director of five years, in order to get the best results the city and the nonprofit organizations will bring in a company that specializes in children’s playgrounds. The company is called Leathers & Associates and according to their website they concentrate on custom designed outdoor play spaces that reflect the imagination of children.