Columbus Co. commissioners approve license plate cameras, continued work against giant salvinia plant

Columbus Co. commissioners approve license plate cameras, continued work against giant salvinia plant
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 12:29 PM EDT
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WHITEVILLE, N.C. (WECT) - The Columbus County Board of Commissioners approved a request for license plate cameras and funding to fight the invasive giant salvinia plant at its meeting on Tuesday, March 21.

Sheriff requests approval for license plate cameras

Commissioners have unanimously approved a $32,100 two-year contract with Flock Group Inc. for the license plate readers. This would require a capital project budget amendment as well.

Sheriff Rogers spoke on behalf of the sheriff’s department, stating it would aid them if a car is stolen, and the cameras would alert the sheriff’s office. It also would send an alert if a car’s plate is associated with a missing child.

The license plate readers can record information about vehicles, such as make and model, the license plate stats and unique features of the car, such as roof racks and stickers. Law enforcement can then set up notifications for when a camera detects a certain vehicle.

The plate readers can only read tags if they have been put in the system. Sheriffs can enter a tag number and if a car passes a traffic camera, it alerts sheriffs to that area.

Any hardware provided by Flock would be owned by the company, and the services would be stopped if the contract isn’t renewed. Flock deletes most footage on a rolling 30-day basis, so law enforcement would need to store any footage they planned on keeping long-term.

Public hearing on refinancing portion of school expansion cost

County commissioners will also hold a public hearing on an installment financing agreement for up to $17 million for renovating, expanding, equipping and improving Cerro Gordo Elementary School.

The hearing notice states that the $17 million and other available funds would be used to refinance some of the project costs.

Work continues to combat giant salvinia infestation

The giant salvinia is an invasive noxious aquatic weed that has infested Gapway Swamp in Columbus County. Commissioners approved NCDEQ’s request to the county to evenly split the $124,000 cost of continued treatment of the area.

According to the request, the project began in 2021 with a cost-sharing agreement between the county and state, and the work has significantly reduced the amount of giant salvinia in the swamp.

Commissioners will meet at 127 W. Webster Street in Whiteville on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. with a closed session. The regular session will begin at 6:30 p.m. Meeting agendas and minutes are available on the county’s website.