Dobson taps Comer for vacant board seat

By Keith Strange

July 19, 2013

DOBSON — The Dobson Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the appointment of a retired U.S. Navy captain and town resident to fill the unexpired seat vacated by the death of long-time commissioner Lana Brendle.

The motion to appoint Robert Comer to the post was made by Commissioner Wayne Atkins, with Commissioner John Lawson offering a second.

Comer served for “several years,” as the Dobson town manager, according to sitting Town Manager Josh Smith.

“I can’t remember the exact dates, but I know he was town manager for years,” he said.

In addition, Comer is active with the Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce, and is actively seeking to bring jobs to the town.

“He’s very active and has a lot of experience in economic development and planning, so I think he will be a great fit with our current board,” Smith said.

Comer also is a member of the Surry Community College Board of Trustees.

Smith said he can’t think of a better person to fill the vacant seat.

“He is going to be a true asset to the town,” he said. “He’s highly qualified for the position and is already a huge asset to the community at large. He already serves the community as well as anyone, the only thing is now he’ll be serving as a commissioner as well.”

During the meeting and while Comer was being considered for the position, Mayor Ricky Draughn agreed that he would be a good fit for the current board.

“He certainly has the experience, and I think he will do a great job,” he said.

According to the town manager, Brendle would be proud of the selection of Comer.

“He’ll do a tremendous job and make Lana proud by filling her seat well,” he said.

Brendle served four terms on the town board until her death on May 19.

During last night’s meeting, members of the Dobson board gave unanimous approval for town officials to enter into a contract that will provide about half of the expected money necessary to construct a park in the town.

The contract, with the state Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, will allow the town to accept a $496,000 grant from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The 2.2-acre park, expected to cost the town about $1 million, is set to be located on property divided into two parcels at the moment located at the corner of West Atkins and South Crutchfield streets.

It is expected to house an interactive fountain, splash pad, playground and walking trails.

Smith told the board that the contract is “a technicality.”

“This is standard language and nothing out of the ordinary,” he said, noting that town attorney Hugh Campbell had looked over the documents and given the nod. “It’s a technicality that has to be done if we want to get our money.”

Smith told the board that the town is in the process of finalizing the purchase of the two parcels.

“At this point, it’s just a matter of scheduling a meeting and getting things written up,” he said. “We should have the property acquired within the next month or so.”

The board approved the contract signing on a motion by Commissioner John Lawson, with a second by Commissioner Todd Dockery.

In other business, the board unanimously adopted an ordinance allowing the town to spend up to $1.8 million to construct a solid waste handling system at the town’s water treatment plant.

Smith told the board that the ordinance is necessary in order to spend money on the project.

“We’re about a month or so away from having a pilot system in place to test the two options,” he said.

One of the systems is a dewatering box that uses gravity and a large filter to separate the solids from the liquids. It is expected to cost about $1 million.

The town also is looking at a press-type system that would compress the solids and remove the water with a large press. It is expected to cost around $1.8 million.

Smith said the larger figure is a “worst-case scenario.”

“We are going to have to do the pilot study to find out which system works the best, but we’re hoping the dewatering box will work and if it does, we’ll do that.

“Hopefully we’ll even be able to get the costs a little lower after we conduct the pilot project,” he said.

The ordinance was adopted on a motion by Commissioner Wayne Atkins, with a second by Dockery.

During the meeting, the town also passed a project ordinance authorizing the town to start spending money for the town park, including the purchase of the property.

Reach Keith Strange at or 719-1929.