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Talk of our Towns 

Five North Carolina cities earn superior public fire protection rating

North Carolina Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Wayne Goodwin recently recognized Cary, Charlotte, Fayetteville, Greensboro and High Point Fire Departments for achieving the ISO Class 1 rating with the Commissioner’s Special Achievement Award.

"I commend these fire departments for their stellar commitment to protecting lives and property," said Goodwin. "Because of that commitment, residents, business owners and visitors in these communities can count on superior fire service and reduced fire loss."

Every community in the United States earns a fire protection public protection classification rating issued by the Insurance Services Office (ISO). Each insurance district receives a rating between class 1 (considered superior) to Class 10 (considered unprotected). Of almost 49,000 rated fire departments in the United States, only about 130 are considered superior, or Class 1.

Greensboro Fire Department first earned the rating in 2003 and maintained that level of service ever since. Cary, Charlotte, Fayetteville and High Point earned their ISO Class 1 rating in 2015. Commissioner Goodwin presented each of the five departments with a Commissioner’s Special Achievement Award and thanked them for their diligence and long-term commitment to continuously improving the fire protection service delivery system in their communities.

In North Carolina, there are more than 1,000 fire departments and only five have earned the ISO Class 1 rating distinction. The rating is based upon a community’s ability to suppress fire and is anchored by three primary components: fire department capabilities, the water supply system and emergency communications.

The ISO Class 1 rating enables homeowners and business owners to receive the lowest insurance premiums possible due to the community being recognized as providing superior fire protection services.

In addition, Cary, Charlotte, Fayetteville and Greensboro are also accredited fire departments recognized by the Center for Public Safety Excellence. There are only about 150 accredited fire departments in the United States.

Municipal managers with questions about the fire insurance rating system or fire service continuous improvement programs may contact Greg Grayson with the North Carolina Office of State Fire Marshal at 919-896-5883 or at Greg.Grayson@

Kannapolis wins award for website

Kannapolis was awarded the Outstanding Achievement in Website Development by the Interactive Media Awards. The city’s website,, was redesigned and developed to be more customer service friendly earlier this year. The honor recognizes that the project met and surpassed the basic standards of excellence that comprise the web’s most professional work. The site was honored specifically for excellence in government.

Of the 2015 winners within the Government category, many of which were state and federal websites, only three cities received awards.

The Interactive Media Awards recognize the highest standards of excellence in website design and development and honor individuals and organizations for their outstanding achievement. Created in 2002 by the Interactive Media Council, Inc., a non-profit organization of leading web designers, developers, programmers, advertisers and other web-related professionals, the competition is designed to elevate the standards of excellence for the internet. The judging consisted of various criteria, including design, usability, innovation in technical features, standards compliance, and content. In order to win this award level, the site had to meet strict guidelines in each area — an achievement only a fraction of sites in the IMA competition achieve.

The website was designed and developed in partnership with Granite Sky Creative Group, Inc., a Huntersville-based full service marketing and web development firm.

Hickory-Catawba wastewater treatment facility complete

The City of Hickory and Catawba County recently completed the expansion and upgrade of Hickory-Catawba Wastewater Treatment Facility to 1.5 million gallons per day facility.

Dec. 15, City of Hickory Mayor Rudy Wright, City Manager Mick Berry, and County Commission Chairman Randall Isenhower, Commissioners Beatty, Barnes and Hunsucker and County Manager Thomas Lundy held the ribbon cutting for the grand opening of the Hickory-Catawba Wastewater Treatment Facility at 104 6th Avenue NE, Catawba, NC 28609. This event culminated at multi-year, $11.3 million investment into the environmental and economic prosperity of Catawba County in this area.

Speaking during the event, Mayor Wright and Chairman Isenhower shared a common theme of the City of Hickory and Catawba County working jointly to establish solutions that provide for economic prosperity and set the County up for future growth.

"The completion of this project is an exciting time for residents of the region, as we strive to continuallymeet the needs of citizens and work to protect the environment," said Kevin Greer, PE, Assistant Public Services Director. "The Hickory- Catawba Wastewater Treatment Facility is another example of local government bodies working together to provide solutions to issues that benefit the region, as a whole, through partnerships."

The City of Hickory purchased the existing 0.225 MGD Wastewater Treatment Facility and the Collection and Distribution Systems from the Town of Catawba in 2003 with the intent of serving the region with efficient, effective, and affordable water and wastewater services. This expansion is a continuation of that vision and positions the region to serve existing customers at a higher level, while preparing for the future. The previous facility was constructed in 1956 with no significant improvements.

NC Parks and Recreation Trust Fund provides 30 grants to local governments 

NC Parks and Recreation Trust Fund awarded $4.9 million in grants to 30 local governments for parks and recreation projects.

The matching grants, awarded by the Parks and Recreation Authority, will help fund land acquisition, development, and renovation of public park and recreation areas. The authority considered 67 grant applications requesting $12.6 million. A maximum of $500,000 can be awarded to a single project.

"Through the local grant program of the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, state and local governments have been partners in providing open space, outdoor recreation opportunities and stimulus to local economies," said Susan Kluttz, secretary of the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. "The result has been environmental stewardship, healthier citizens and improvements in the quality of life in North Carolina."

The Parks and Recreation Trust Fund is administered through the Division of Parks and Recreation and was established in 1994 by the NC General Assembly. The revenue is distributed to three programs: 65 percent to the state parks system for repairs, capital improvements and land acquisition; 30 percent for matching grants to local parks and recreation programs for development and land acquisition; and 5 percent to the coastal beach access program.

Since 1995, the Parks and Recreation Authority has received 1,556 grant applications with requests totaling about $336 million. The board has awarded 810 grants for $181 million.

The cities and towns receiving grants in the most recent cycle are: Albemarle, Bath, Clinton, Elizabethtown, Elk Park, Enfield, Fremont, Garner, Goldsboro, Hoffman, Holden Beach, Indian Trail, Kinston, Leland, Lexington, Lillington, Louisburg, McAdenville, Mt. Airy, North Topsail Beach, Oakboro, Saratoga, Seven Devils, Scotland Neck, Spring Lake, Wallburg, Warrenton, Wendell and Windsor.

Matthews Gives Back supports needy families for the holidays

The Town of Matthews and its residents were able to help more than 40 families and 100 children through Matthews Gives Back, a mission the town took on to collect and distribute toys, clothing and food items.

This initiative started the week before Thanksgiving by asking citizens, businesses and civic groups to help 15 area families with children ages 3 to 15 by selecting
tags from angel trees placed around the community, or by dropping off donations at select locations through Dec. 11. The response was overwhelming.

“The employees and volunteers of the Town of Matthews would like to thank these tremendous community partners who helped to make this such a successful initiative,” said Matthews Police Chief Rob Hunter. “With their support, more families experienced the blessings of community this holiday season.”

In addition to residents who donated, the Town thanks Butler High School, Covenant Day School, Crestdale Middle School, Dollar General, Family Dollar, First Baptist Church of Matthews, Food Lion, Harris Teeter, Kiwanis Club of
Matthews, Levine Senior Center, Lowes, Matthews HELP Center, Siskey YMCA and Stronghaven for supporting this effort.