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Village board discusses seniors, regulating sweepstakes parlors

Providing for a burgeoning senior population and regulating electronic sweepstakes parlors caught the attention of the Clemmons Village Council on Monday.

Forsyth Senior Services director Richard Gottleib described a coming “senior tsunami” in the next 20 years when the number of seniors in Forsyth County is expected to double.

At Mayor Nick Nelson’s invitation, Gottleib came with several Meals on Wheels volunteers and leaders, including Bill Magness of Clemmons, whose wife was killed by a gunman as the couple delivered a meal on Jonestown Road in 2008.

“He’s one of my heroes,” Gottleib said. “He delivered a meal today.”

“Twenty of them,” Magness corrected. Magness was shot in the hand during the robbery. An elderly woman who was to receive the hot meal had already been killed when the Magness couple arrived.

Gottleib said the county’s senior centers provide an important service that allows frail seniors to continue to live at home, which saves taxpayers money. He said 35 Clemmons residents and 23 from Lewisville are enrolled in senior center programs, and seven from Clemmons are on a waiting list to get in.

He said the Senior Services program is underfunded. He told the board the program’s administrative cost is nine percent, and 2,000 volunteers help out.

The board took no action, and Gottleib did not make a specific request for funds.

The council also heard its attorney, Warren Kasper, describe other towns and cities’ attempts to regulate electronic sweepstakes businesses. The board was given a copy of Winston-Salem’s new regulations that include a $1,500 per year per machine privilege license.

Kasper said the technology advancements have made regulations a “hot potato.”

The council varied on its count of the number of establishments in the village, from three to five.

Planner Megan Ledbetter said she has received as many as seven complaints about the establishments in recent months, largely about loitering outside.

Kasper said many towns are ambivalent about the centers. It fills empty buildings and generates revenue. Many of the establishments willingly pay any fees towns impose because the machines are lucrative. She said zoning regulations need to define the establishments because “they are here to stay.”

“I think we need to take a look at that,” said council member Mary Cameron.

“I’m thinking we should leave this alone,” council member Bill Lawry said, adding that state regulations may be sufficient.

Village manager Gary Looper said the establishments often have an antagonistic relationship with police, but he didn’t know of any major problems with the Clemmons establishments.

Cameron asked if taxing the machines would control them.

“You can, but they will pay,” Kasper said. “Twenty years ago we tried to legislate the sex trade with zoning. I didn’t work out well.”

In other business, the council:

• Heard Mayor Nelson declare March 2014 as American Red Cross Month; declare March 3-9 as Multiple Sclerosis Week; and declare March 15-22 as Forsyth Creek Week.

• Voted to amend its budget to transfer $10,000 to the Tourism & Recreational Grants fund to pay obligations made last month.

• Tabled a request by Mayor Nelson to refund $750 for a radio he purchased to monitor the village’s radio traffic. Public Works director Larry Kirby said all the previous mayors except for John Bost had had radios but all of the village trucks don’t yet have them. He plans to ask for funding to equip the vehicles next year. “This snow event made me realize I had people out there I can’t communicate with,” he said.

Nelson said he would pay for the radio and give it to the town when he leaves office if necessary, but he wanted to stay informed of the village’s radio traffic, especially in emergencies.

Board member Norman Denny asked for the delay and a report from Kirby on his department’s radio needs.

• Approved the minutes of 24 closed sessions held as far back as 2009.

• Delayed approval of the Feb. 10 regular meeting when board member Bill Lawry submitted a lengthy amendment. Cameron asked for time to read the amendment.

• Heard the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Department report that major crimes in the village continue to trend downward but the number of complaints continues to rise. Among the information was the calculation that there is one violent crime every 11 days in Clemmons, one property crime every 21 hours, one burglary every four days, and one call for service every 32 minutes.

• Heard planner Megan Ledbetter’s report that a Bicycle Awareness Day is being planned, tentatively for May 3, the same day as the annual Clemmons Clean Up, at Village Pointe Drive with plans for a bike rodeo, tune ups, helmet fittings and safety education.

• Heard Ledbetter’s report that planning is continuing with Tanglewood Park and the village government to sponsor a farmers market.

• Heard Ledbetter’s report that a grant might be available to help fund a stormwater management site.

• Council member Darrell Roark did not attend the meeting.