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City warns customers to be cautious of scammers
Utility scammers work year-round. With the onset of the spring, the city of Rocky Mount is urging customers to be cautious of scammers. Utility scammers may falsely identify themselves as city employees and threaten to disconnect services unless the customer makes a payment over the phone. Scammers may also falsely claim to help customers save money on their energy bills as an attempt to gain personal information.
The city of Rocky Mount Business and Collections Services Department uses an automated calling system to remind customers of payments that are past due. However, this automated call will not provide the payment amount and due date. City of Rocky Mount employees will never demand immediate payment over the phone or ask a customer to meet them for payment. The automated calling system number is 1-866-288-7608.
The city will not instruct customers to wire funds. The only retail outlet authorized to accept city of Rocky Mount utility payments is Walmart. All other utility payments should be made directly to the city of Rocky Mount.
City of Rocky Mount employees will instruct the customer to call Customer Service at 252-972-1250 for possible assistance, or the toll-free number at 1-866-288-7608 if the customer wishes to make a payment over the phone using the automated system. Payments taken by phone with a customer service representative are at the customer’s request only when they call 252-972-1250.
City of Rocky Mount customers who suspect they have received a call from a scammer are urged to hang up immediately and call a Customer Service representative at 252-972-1250 to verify whether the city is attempting to contact them. Customers are also urged not to share any personal information with the scammers or return any phone calls.
If customers wish to pay their utility bills electronically, they may use the city’s online services at https://ipn.paymentus.com/rotp/crm to make the payment.
Session will highlight ‘How to Do Business with the city of Rocky Mount’
Businesses are invited to attend an informational session on how to potentially obtain government contracts. How to Do Business with the city of Rocky Mount will be held Thursday, March 23, from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Rec Room in Station Square, 301 S. Church St.
Topics will include responding to solicitations, how to prepare and submit bids, insurance requirements, Minority and Women Business Enterprise policies and best practices, understanding government contracts, a walk-through of a bid document, how to become certified and how to register with the city of Rocky Mount. The event is free, and food will be provided by the Minority Economic Development Committee.
Kevin McLaughlin is Rocky Mount’s 2023 Main Street Champion
Kevin McLaughlin, founder and owner of Larema Coffee House, is Rocky Mount’s 2023 Main Street Champion. He was recognized Thursday at the NC Main Street conference in Statesboro.
McLaughlin opened his coffee shop and restaurant three years ago on South Washington Street in downtown Rocky Mount. It is housed in a restored historic former bank that had been long abandoned.
Larema Coffee House hosts an array of community-awareness events and frequently showcases local talent, providing opportunities for all ages and genres of entertainment.
“What a wonderful honor it is to be chosen to represent Rocky Mount as this year’s NC Main Street Champion!” McLaughlin said. “Getting to serve this amazing community by holding safe space for all to come together over delicious beverages, foods and experiences is nothing short of a dream come true.
“Thank you to the city and to every person who has supported Larema Coffee House along this journey,” he said. “Now, let’s keep up the important work of building a more lively, enjoyable, beautiful, and inclusive downtown!”
Downtown Development Manager Kevin Harris said McLaughlin is a “valued member of downtown and all of Rocky Mount.”
“Through his persistence and commitment to downtown, he has been instrumental in attracting a diversity of visitors and patrons of all ages and all walks of life, energizing a formerly underdeveloped section of downtown,” Harris said. “He champions all things downtown and can be counted on by fellow downtown merchants for his participation, support and encouragement.”
New city manager starts work in Rocky Mount
Keith Rogers Jr. started work Monday as Rocky Mount’s new city manager.
He spent his first day on the job meeting with key staff members before attending a City Council Committee of the Whole work session.
“I am excited to be in Rocky Mount,” Rogers said. “I eagerly look forward to working with our leadership team and the city’s workforce as we strive for excellence in delivering services to our residents. I am also excited to work with the Mayor and City Council to enhance the quality of life for all Rocky Mount residents.”
Rogers comes to Rocky Mount from Dumfries, Virginia, where he served as town manager since 2019. Rogers previously worked for the city of Richmond, Virginia, where he held various executive roles.
He replaces Peter Varney, who was interim city manager since former Rocky Mount City Manager Rochelle D. Small-Toney announced her retirement in January 2022.
Rogers has a Master’s degree in public administration and a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Virginia Commonwealth University. He is a member of the International City Managers Association and a past adjunct professor in the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at VCU.
City of Rocky Mount has money available from Energy Share residential
weatherization rebate program
The city of Rocky Mount’s Business and Collection Services Department has $32,500 remaining in its Energy Share residential weatherization rebate program.
Under this program, residents who own a home and have an active gas/electric utility account with the city of Rocky Mount can qualify for the following rebates:
- HVAC replacement – $1,000
- Attic insulation/weatherization – $500
- Replacement of ductworks – $250
Applicants must make their property available for an energy audit. Eligible properties include energy efficient single-family residences and duplexes. These dwellings must have load management switches on all subject property appliances including water heater and heat strips. (These load management switches can be installed at the time of the energy audit.)
Other requirements include:
- Improvements eligible for rebate must be paid with check(s), credit cards, or money orders.
- New and replacement HVAC units must have a minimum efficiency rating of 15 SEER.
- Attic weatherization projects must meet the minimum R38 value.
For more information, go online and visit https://rockymountnc.gov/energy-share-program/, visit the Business Services Center in person at 224. S. Franklin St. or call a customer assistance team member at 252-972-1533.
City of Rocky Mount to celebrate Natural Gas Utility Workers’ Day on March 18
On March 18, 2023, the city of Rocky Mount will celebrate Natural Gas Utility Workers’ Day. This is the eighth year in which Natural Gas Utility Workers’ Day has been officially celebrated across the country. This day of recognition is a time when communities such as ours give recognition to the employees who provide one of their most valuable assets—their natural gas utility.
The official Natural Gas Utility Workers’ Day is March 18 because that is the date of the New London, Texas school explosion in 1937 that led to the widespread odorization of natural gas and an increased emphasis on safety. Safety is a vital aspect to natural gas distribution and the employees of distribution companies endeavor to make natural gas delivery as safe as possible.
This annual nationwide event is intended to build public awareness about the hard work done by the employees of natural gas utilities. On this day, we will also educate residents on the environmental, safety and cost benefits of using clean, reliable and affordable natural gas. Our customers recognize the need to access reliable, affordable, safe energy and depend on the service of natural gas utility employees for that need.
“Natural Gas Utility Workers’ Day is an opportunity to recognize the individuals that are essential in delivering natural gas safely and efficiently to our customers,” says Bradley Walters, gas operations manager. “Our gas employees are experienced, well-trained, and committed to serving the energy needs of our customers and our community. We are extremely grateful for their efforts every day.”
The city of Rocky Mount Energy Resources department maintains the second largest public gas system in North Carolina with over 17,000 customers and 560 miles of natural gas distribution lines in Nash and Edgecombe counties. The Energy Resources Gas Division has 23 employees which includes management, engineering, compliance, maintenance, gas service technicians, gas meter technicians and the gas construction crews.
In addition to their hard work in providing and maintaining the city’s natural gas services, the Gas Division is also a recipient of the Gold designation award in the American Public Gas Association’s (APGA) prestigious System Operation Achievement Recognition (SOAR) program. SOAR awards are given to natural gas utilities that demonstrate excellence in worker safety, workforce development, system integrity and system improvement. The SOAR Award lasts for three years, and the Gold designation is the SOAR award’s highest level of recognition. Rocky Mount is one of only three gas systems to receive the Gold designation three times. The SOAR award is a testament to the city’s commitment to safely providing natural gas service and the hard work of its natural gas workers.
“Natural Gas Utility Workers’ Day is a great opportunity to recognize our gas workers and the entire Gas Division for their hard work and dedication to safely providing a valuable resource for our city and community,” says Chris Beschler, director of Energy Resources.
If you would like to learn more about the benefits of natural gas, please visit https://rockymountnc.gov/natural-gas. We invite the community to join us in celebrating our natural gas employees on March 18 and throughout the month of March by visiting the Energy Resources Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RockyMountEnergyResources.
Berkshire Acres celebrates another round of community wealth-building
The Berkshire Acres Community Association held an open house Saturday, Feb. 18, for a new home that was built with help from residents of the Berkshire Community and city funding.
A previous dwelling at 701 Lincoln Drive had been vacant for several years. It was run down with code violations, well beyond repair.
This is the second dilapidated home that the Berkshire Acres Community Association has rehabilitated or replaced as part of its Community Rebuild initiative to stabilize the neighborhood, build community wealth and show how community reinvestment can make a difference. The association is led by the Rev. Winslow Hagans, Aston Haughton, Robin Joyner and Gloria Dancy Williams.
“We are developing Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County, and restoring vitality and homeownership to Berkshire community,” Haughton said at Saturday’s event.
The first renovated home was at 1816 Duncan Drive. It was restored with assistance from a $30,000 city grant and work from residents in the neighborhood, Interim City Manager Peter Varney said at Saturday’s event.
“The community used the net proceeds from the sale of that house to put toward this project. So the city in November of 2020 awarded another grant of $40,000 to supplement the proceeds from 1816 Duncan so they could use the funding to acquire (and) demolish the house that was here,” Varney said. “And then last year the city awarded an additional sum of $150,000 so they could proceed with the construction.”
Varney said partnerships are the “secret sauce” of the Community Rebuild initiative.
“It’s the combination of taking responsibility and partnering with the city that makes up this concept of community wealth-building,” he said.
Tracey Drewery to become city of Rocky Mount’s interim fire chief
Tracey Drewery will become the city of Rocky Mount’s interim fire chief effective March 1. He will replace Fire Chief Corey Mercer, who is retiring.
Drewery has worked with the Rocky Mount Fire Department for 25 years and currently serves as the assistant fire chief of administration and planning.
He started as a firefighter with the city on Feb. 23, 1998, and in July 2001 was promoted to fire engineer. He continued pursuing advanced certifications and enrolled in Wilson Community Technical College to acquire an associate degree in Fire Protection Technology. His education and achieved certifications assisted him with being promoted to fire captain in July 2003. Continuing with career and personal development, Drewery received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a minor in Computer Information Systems from North Carolina Wesleyan College. He completed the Executive Fire Officer Program (EFO) at the National Fire Academy, which assisted him with advancing to the position of battalion chief in 2017. In 2019, he was appointed as the interim division chief of life safety until being permanently selected to fill the role. In 2020, he was promoted to the assistant fire chief of administration and planning, making him the first African-American to hold the position of assistant fire chief in the Rocky Mount Fire Department. Drewery continued his educational path, which led him to complete his Master of Business Administration from Western Governors University.
Drewery is also a graduate of the Eastern North Carolina Senior Fire Officer Leadership Institute. He has received multiple awards, including being recognized as the Luncheon Lions Firefighter of the year in 2018. Along with his numerous certifications, he is a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, North Carolina Fire Chief’s Association, North Carolina State Fireman’s Association, and the North Carolina Emergency Management Association. He also serves as a Commission on Fire Accreditation International Peer Assessor, the agency that provides the model for the City of Rocky Mount Fire Department’s accreditation process.
Drewery’s appointment as interim chief was announced this week by Peter Varney, Rocky Mount’s interim city manager.
“With his broad experience at the Rocky Mount Fire Department and professional qualifications, Tracey Drewery certainly is well-suited for this position,” Interim City Manager Peter Varney said. “I am confident that he will do an outstanding job.”
Drewery stated, “I am committed to serving the citizens of Rocky Mount because the community deserves the department’s total energy and attention. I am devoted to supporting the women and men of the RMFD and discovering innovative ways to continuously improve our department, resulting in a safer community for all who live and visit Rocky Mount.
“I would like to thank the City Council, Mayor, City Manager’s Office, and Chief Mercer for trusting and allowing me to serve as interim,” Drewery said. “I promise that the RMFD will continue to do what it has always done best: to serve the City of Rocky Mount by protecting lives and property through quality and excellence in service.”
Drewery is a Rocky Mount native. He is married to Michele Drewery and has three beautiful children. He thoroughly enjoys spending time with his family, as they are the motivation behind everything he does.
2022 wastewater systems annual performance report published
The City of Rocky Mount’s Tar River Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility maintained full compliance for all effluent limitations and monitoring requirements last year.
The 2022 Wastewater Systems Annual Performance Report has been published and is available through the City’s Water Resources Department webpage and upon request from the Water Quality Services Division at (252) 972-1408.
Work begins on roundabout near Battle Park at U.S. 64 and Benvenue Road
The N.C. Department of Transportation has announced work is getting underway on a roundabout that will be built where Benvenue Road (N.C. 43), Battlepark Lane and an off-ramp and an on-loop for U.S. 64 converge.
The purpose of the $4.8 million project is to improve the operation and safety of this intersection, according to NCDOT.
Travel lanes in the work zone will be narrowed but not closed throughout construction, which is expected to last for several months. Drivers are urged to slow down, be alert for workers and equipment and proceed cautiously.
This project was originally scheduled to commence last summer. According to NCDOT, work was delayed because of a major materials shortage for reinforced concrete pipes, which go underground and help drain away storm runoff from the roadway.
Click this link to see where the roundabout will be located.
Battle Park boat ramp to temporarily reopen for spring fishing season
In recognition of the historic and cultural importance of shad and rock fish (striped bass) fishing in the Tar River, the city’s Battle Park boat ramp will temporarily reopen on Feb. 1 for the spring 2023 season.
The boat ramp will remain open until May 1 or when the spring migration of shad and rock fish is completed, whichever occurs first. The Rocky Mount Mills dam is the barrier that ends the migration of these species. The Battle Park boat ramp is the last upstream ramp on the free-flowing Tar River. The next ramp is 16 miles downstream at Dunbar in Edgecombe County.
The Battle Park boat ramp reopening comes as the renovation of Battle Park continues and construction is set to start on a roundabout near the park entrance. Since the boat ramp parking lot and south shoulder of Battle Park Lane are being used as a construction staging area, boaters will be required to park their vehicles and trailers on the north side of the road (closest to US 64). Boat launch traffic must yield to construction activity in the area.
The gate on Battle Park Lane will remain unlocked and open during the spring 2023 fishing season but entering Battle Park Lane without a trailered boat will be considered trespassing.
Bank fishing will continue and has been made more accessible through the removal of invasive species such as privet and wisteria. Bank anglers can park at the Falls Road lot on the west end of Battle Park or at the city’s former Animal Services office at 1101 N. Church St. on the east end of the park. All of Battle Park remains accessible from the Rocky Mount Greenway.
Bank anglers may not use Battle Park Lane for vehicle access or parking. No bank fishing will be allowed from the boat ramp.
Contact the city’s Park and Recreation Department for questions or concerns by calling 252-972-1151, or go online and visit https://rockymountnc.gov/battle-park-spring-2023/
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Citizen Resource Center
This Citizen Resource Center contains information from local, state, and federal agencies and organizations providing important information and exceptional services for citizens of Rocky Mount. The Citizen Resource Center is for information purposes only, and we encourage you to contact organizations or businesses directly for additional information.
City Manager's Award
The City of Rocky Mount considers its employees to be one of its most valuable assets. The City Manager’s Awards Program is a recognition program that acknowledges employees who go above and beyond the job description requirements and excels at exemplifying the City’s core values: Customer-Centered Service, Professionalism, Respect, Teamwork & Leadership, and Supportive Work Environment.
Streetscape and Depot Park Survey
The city of Rocky Mount and the Kimley-Horn design are gathering feedback for the conceptual design of the Falls Road Streetscape Project. This project is an effort to transform Falls Road between West Thomas St. and Church St. It includes providing a safer, more vibrant corridor through the addition of sidewalks, streetscape, and a new park.
Take a look at all the upcoming events in Rocky Mount.
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Rocky Mount Job Opportunities
Interested in working for the city of Rocky Mount? Click here to check out the positions we have available.
Rocky Mount Fire Department
Interested in becoming a fire fighter? We would love for you to apply and see if you are a fit for our team.