Jason Burrell named new Montreat town manager

Karrigan Monk
Black Mountain News
The Montreat Board of Commissioners appointed Jason Burrell as the new town manager during the March 9 meeting.

Jason Burrell has been named the new town manager for Montreat.

The Board of Commissioners entered into a closed session during the old business portion of the regularly scheduled March 9 meeting.

Upon their return, Commissioner Jane Alexander announced Burrell would be taking on the role from Interim Town Manager Ben Blackburn. She said he would be paid $90,000 a year.

"I'm very excited about this opportunity," Burrell said. "I'm looking forward to serving the town of Montreat and doing the absolute best job working with the staff we have and obviously the board as well and accomplishing a lot of different things and doing it in a very productive way and getting to know each and every one of you."

Burrell said Blackburn left "tough shoes" for him to fill.

In new business, several Montreat residents were appointed to various town boards and committees.

Ed Kramer was appointed to the Tree Board. Kathy Putnam and Jean Norris were appointed to the Montreat Landcare Committee. Dany Sharpe was reappointed to the Board of Adjustment. Philip Arnold was reappointed to the Audit Committee. William "Bill" Scheu was reappointed to the Open Space Conservation Committee.

Public Works Director Barry Creasman presented two projects to the board.

The first involved the cleaning and inspecting the two town water tanks. Creasman said this needs to be done every five years. He said this year he suggests also making some repairs to the tanks. These projects will be done while the tanks are operational.

Creasman said the contract for the work would be $5,770 and would be completed by Liquid Engineering Corporation.

Commissioner Tom Widmer said the project had been budgeted for $32,200, meaning the project came in under budget.

Mayor Pro Tem Mason Blake asked if the town had used the company before, and Creasman said the town has done so for many years and he is "comfortable" with the work they do.

The $5,770 covers the cleaning and inspecting of the tanks. For the repairs, Blackburn said the estimated cost was $475 per hour, and Creasman estimated about three hours of work.

The board voted unanimously to go forward with approving the proposal.

Creasman also presented a consideration of a paving project for town roads. He said the funds available for this project was $269,384.04, and he received bids from Harrison Construction and C&T Paving.

Commissioner Kent Otto said he appreciated the work Creasman put into the project.

"What I appreciate is the fact that Barry invited all the council people to literally get out and walk the roads of Montreat and look at what needs we have here," Otto said.

Otto said he would like to see Oklahoma Road be paved this fiscal year because it is the road that needs the most work and is a well-traveled road. He also said it would take care of paving one of the few dirt roads left in town, which he said has been a goal of the board for many years.

Mayor Tim Helms said the cost for this would be $214,513.

Creasman said he hopes for work to be completed before summer starts, hopefully in May or early June.

The board voted unanimously to have C&T Paving to do the necessary work on Oklahoma Road.

The final item on the agenda was a second reading of the ordinance revisions for the town to qualify as a BearWise community. Although the ordinances passed unanimously during the last meeting, two members were absent, and the state requires two-thirds of all members of the board to vote for the ordinance to go into effect.

The ordinances defines standard bear-resistant solid waste containers. It also states that if town staff tell residents they are attracting and unintentionally feeding bears, they must stop what behavior is attracting or feeding the bear.

The meeting ended with residents and the Board of Commissioners thanking Blackburn for his work with the town during his time as interim town manager.