On Wednesday, Jan. 26, the Village of Whispering Pines hosted a council meeting to discuss past and future operations of Whispering Pines.
Two of the main topics on the session’s agenda focused on a review of the village’s actions taken during December’s power grid attack that resulted in a power outage and updates on the work in progress that is Hardee Lane Park. The meeting occurred at 2 p.m. and was livestreamed online to allow viewers to join in remotely.
Before looking back at the village’s operations in the power outage that rocked Moore County in early December, the council discussed current events and future plans, including further details on the ongoing project of Hardee Lane Park.
After approving the construction of a restroom and facility pavilion at the previous meeting earlier this month, the committee is ready to move forward with additional plans, including a stormwater drainage system, extra parking, a driveway, and a privacy fence dividing the lot from the neighboring cemetery.
Thus far, the project has been doing exceptionally well in terms of budget, allowing breathing room for small additions and potential unforeseen circumstances as they arise. The crew is also making good time on the park itself and is “about three months away from being a park that can be utilized.”
Following the discussion of Hardee Lane Park, the council dedicated a portion of the meeting to a critique of power outage operations within the Village of Whispering Pines. They aimed to discuss what they felt the village handled well and what they felt could be improved upon when faced with the next possible disaster.
In the future, the council hopes to prepare Whispering Pines residents for potential disasters better. They have already drawn up plans and created packets to educate the public on proper generator usage. They hope this will help prevent any possible emergencies or injuries that may arise due to a resident not knowing how to operate a generator during a crisis safely.
Additionally, the council hopes to urge residents who may not have access to Wi-Fi or social media to “go old fashioned” and pick up a radio. Many residents — not just of Whispering Pines but of Moore County as a whole — missed out on what may have been vital information because they didn’t have any means to stay updated or receive news on resources. Battery-operated radios would allow listeners to tune in to emergency broadcasts when phones and other technology fail.
They likewise addressed technological hang-ups on behalf of the council itself. During the power outage, the Whispering Pines website experienced crashing and difficulty loading, and it was also discovered that Village Hall’s electrical work was too outdated to run a generator. Luckily the issues with the website were addressed and resolved, and the team hopes to avert similar issues in the future.
On the other hand, the wiring for Village Hall will not be so easily fixed, and the council has yet to decide on the best action to take regarding this issue. Village Hall has additional preexisting issues with ventilation, wiring, and internet connectivity, leaving the council to debate on the most efficient solution.
In the meantime, generators and charging stations were established at The Whispering Pines Fire Rescue Department rather than at Village Hall. According to council members, a handful of Whispering Pines residents took advantage of these stations to get out of the house, charge their devices, and keep updated on the outage. The council plans to do this again with further improvements and possibly more amenities.
Council members also discussed the many reports of issues with Spectrum and Verizon — which were not only out of the council’s control but out of control for all affected municipalities in Moore County. The idea was suggested to encourage residents to write to state representatives regarding Spectrum’s lack of communication with their customers.
In general, the council agreed that they were satisfied with the communication level they maintained with residents, first responders, and Duke Energy alike. In the future, the council hopes to educate the community and remind all residents that in case of an emergency, don’t hesitate to call 911.
~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Abegail Murphy.