Request for Proposals # 210706-200 Unified Communications as a Service

Pender County is Requesting Proposals regarding replacement of our current on-premise Cisco Voice over IP (VoIP) system (the system) with a Cloud-Hosted Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) solution. The County has identified four (4) main reasons to move from an on-premise system to a Cloud-Hosted and Cloud-Managed system: Continuity of Operations, Mobility, Cost, and Functionality. We are seeking a business partner that can help Pender meet these needs by providing a reliable and cost effective UCaaS solution.

First, the current system provides for little redundancy, no continuity of operations, nor disaster recovery. Should the County be left without operating data centers after the wake of a natural or other disaster, we would have no means of communicating with our customers or business partners. By moving to a Cloud-Hosted/Cloud-Managed Solution, County staff can continue to make and receive calls from anywhere with an internet connection.

Second, the County wishes to provide for a mobile workforce. Our current system is on-premise and requires users to connect via VPN to use a softphone option. In addition, our system does not provide for mobile phone applications, nor can handsets be used outside of the County network. During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the County was challenged with continuing operations while allowing staff to Telework. Due to the lack of mobility, staff were required to forward desk phones to their mobile phones, which continuously posed challenges for both staff and ITS. The County wishes to provide users the ability to make and receive calls using smart phone applications, softphones, and handsets using any available internet connection without requiring a VPN or relying on County infrastructure.

Third, the County wishes to move from a Capital Expense model to an Operating Expense model for its Unified Communications; receiving a monthly bill, per user and/or device, rather than costly expenses to maintain an on-premise system. The County currently incurs monthly & annual costs for telco expenses (PRI and Long Distance), Hardware Support & Maintenance (Smartnet), and Software Support & Maintenance (Smartnet). In addition, upgrades to the system are costly, requires third party business partners, requires a great deal of ITS staff time, and causes downtime for end-users. Moving to the cloud would decrease required resources for our on-premise infrastructure and increase ITS staff efficiency.

Finally, the current VoIP system lacks features that the County has identified as a business need. The County’s Call Manager licenses does not include a Call Center ability. Due to the countless calls about the COVID-19 vaccination, the County sought a Call Center as a Service option. This service proved itself as a critical business need for many Departments in the County. In addition, other features such as Paging, Call Recording, and Office 365 Integration would be invaluable to County Operations.

Click here for the full RFP # 210706-200 and the UCaaS Requirements Workbook.  Proposals are due August 13th, 2021 by 5pm EST.  Pender County reserves the right to reject any or all proposals.

Request for Proposals #37-07-5038 for Stream Clearing and Snagging Services

The Pender County Planning & Community Development Department (Pender County) seeks to establish a contract with an experienced contractor to provide Stream Clearing & Snagging, Debris Removal, and Streambank Stabilization in designated stream locations throughout the County. The primary responsibility of the Contractor will be to perform stream clearing, snagging, woody debris removal, disposal, and streambank stabilization in identified locations of drainage channels in watershed. The proposed work will be conducted in specified stream segments under the supervision of the Pender County Planning & Community Development Department and their designated Construction Field Representatives (CFRs). The purpose of the proposed work is to improve drainage resulting from woody debris deposition caused by Hurricane Florence in September of 2018. The contractor will be tasked with implementing the proposed grant work scope and meeting the requirements developed under the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program. The proposed work shall be funded in part by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS) in a grant identified as Contract 37-07-18-5038. The EWP grant was awarded to the County to perform the proposed work in such a manner that reduces imminent threat to life and loss of property in Pender County.  Proposals are due July 23rd, 2021 by 3pm EST to Daniel Adams, Pender County Planning and Community Development, PO Box 5, 805 S. Walker Street, Burgaw, NC  28425.   Click here to download the full RFP including Site Maps and Field Data Reports.  AN ADDENDUM HAS BEEN ISSUED ON 7/14/2021.   NOTE UPDATES:  Site walks/inspections will take place July 22, 2021 at 8:30am EST.  Questions are due July 26, 2021 by 3:00pm EST.  Proposals are due by August 4, 2021 at 4pm EST  CLICK HERE TO VIEW ADDENDUM 1.

 

Pender County Emergency Management prepares for Tropical Storm Elsa

PENDER COUNTY – Tropical Storm Elsa will impact the Pender County region tomorrow and into Thursday evening, according to the latest forecast from the National Weather Service.

“On its current track Tropical Storm Elsa has the potential to produce heavy rainfall, flooding, isolated tornadoes, and dangerous rip currents as early as Wednesday night through Thursday evening,” said Tommy Batson, Pender County Emergency Manager.

“We urge all residents to use caution and be prepared for possible power outages and localized flooding,” he said.

Tropical Storm Elsa has the potential to spawn tornadoes. Residents are urged to stay alert to local weather stations. Residents who have not signed up for the CodeRed alert system, register for free at https://public.coderedweb.com/CNE/en-US/9FB534DFBC93 or call 910-259-1210 for details.

“If a tornado warning occurs in your area, seek shelter in the interior of your home,” said Batson. “Be sure to secure all pets as well.”

Some streets in Pender County are prone to flooding. Avoid areas already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams. Roadbeds may be washed out under flood waters.

“Never drive through flooded roadways,” said Batson. “You don’t know the condition of the road under the water. Turn Around Don’t Drown is more than a cliché. It is an important warning to heed.”

Tropical Storm Elsa also has the potential of creating dangerous rip currents. Rip currents are channeled currents of water flowing away from shore at surf beaches. They typically extend from near the shoreline, through the surf zone and past the line of breaking waves.

“Rip currents speeds vary, but at 5 mph, a rip current moves faster than an Olympic swimmer,” said Batson.

“It is the hurricane season,” said Batson. “Residents should review your personal emergency plan and know your evacuation routes.

Check your emergency supply kit, which should contain food, water, prescription medicines, charging cords, batteries, and other essentials to support your family for several days. Be sure to plan for elderly relatives and pets. And make certain your insurance is up-to-date.”

For more information, read our Pender County Emergency Management website, https://www.pendercountync.gov/em/

or our Facebook page.

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Applications period opens July 1 for $79.6 million hurricane disaster relief program for poultry and livestock, plasticulture and forestry producers

Program focuses on losses suffered from Hurricanes Florence, Michael and Dorian

RALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has received a $79.6 million USDA block grant to assist producers and woodland owners in 90 counties who suffered losses in 2018-2019 from Hurricanes Florence, Michael, and Dorian. The application period runs from July 1 to Oct. 1.

This program will offer direct payments to eligible poultry/livestock and plasticulture producers. Assistance will only involve losses associated with these hurricanes that were not covered under other USDA disaster programs.

This program will also offer technical and financial assistance to woodland owners in the emergency-declared counties that were affected by these hurricanes. Comprehensive forest management plans will be offered to those landowners in order to assess the storm impacts to their woodlands and identify beneficial management recommendations.

“Eligibility requirements differ significantly between the agricultural and forestry categories of this block grant,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “I would encourage farmers and forest owners who think they may be eligible to check the online links for the agricultural applications or contact their local N.C. Forest Service County Ranger Office for the ‘Woodland Recovery’ component.”

Poultry/livestock and plasticulture producers will need a current and completed IRS W9 form ready to scan into the application. Additionally, growers are encouraged to research and gather any evidence of poultry/swine structure damage and any damage evidence for plasticulture and greenhouses from those specific storms. They should be prepared to scan documents into the application for consideration of payment.

Details about the “Woodland Recovery” program will be available beginning mid-July by contacting a local N.C. Forest Service County Ranger’s office. A list of contacts can be found at https://www.ncforestservice.gov/contacts/contacts_main.htm

For more information, including links to the poultry/livestock and plasticulture applications, visit www.ncagr.gov/agriculturaldisasterprogram or call 1-919-707-3362.

Town of Topsail Beach and Pender County Parks and Recreation delivers summer’s Topsail Sounds

Free concerts in Topsail Beach Town Park Center

TOPSAIL BEACH – The Town of Topsail Beach and Pender County Parks and Recreation will host three summer concerts at the Topsail Beach Town Center, starting June 22 with The Cruise Brothers.

“Residents and visitors will enjoy the outdoor setting at Topsail Beach Center,” Zachary White, Pender County Parks and Recreation supervisor said. “Bring a lawn chair or blanket and enjoy a live concert. Admission is free.”

The summer music schedule in Topsail Beach includes:

  • June 22, The Cruise Brothers
  • July 27, The Imitations
  • 24, British Invaders

All Topsail Sounds concerts begin at 6:30 p.m. and conclude at 8:30 p.m.

“After a year of social distancing, it’s nice to be able to bring people back together in our Community,” Christine Burke, Town of Topsail Beach assistant town manager said.

“Many residents have shared that due to COVID restrictions, they have missed live music concerts,” said White. “We’re pleased to collaborate with the Town of Topsail Beach to deliver the much-desired musical events.”

Q&A regarding the gas pipeline installation in the Hampstead area

The Pender County Board of Commissioners received several community inquiries regarding the large yellowe pipe that is being installed along US Hwy 17, Sloop Point Loop Road, and Country Club Drive.

We reached out to Piedmont Natural Gas for an update on the project. They responded quickly to answer community questions.

Where is the gas line being installed? Is it called the Hampstead Gas Line Project?

The Hampstead project consists of much more than the name implies. It is to connect Wilmington with Jacksonville. The project started near the New Hanover County & Pender County line along Highway 17 all the way to Jacksonville where it will connect near the air station. The route mostly follows Highway 17 except for a slight detour where the line jumps off US Hwy 17 and follows Country Club Drive to Sloop Point Loop Rd where it loops back to US Hwy 17.

What is the purpose of installing natural gas?

The primary purpose of installing this line is to be available for the anticipated growth along Highway 17, especially in the Hampstead and Surf City area. Piedmont Gas hopes to serve commercial markets such as restaurants, grocery, hospitals, retail shopping centers, schools and more.

Will residential customers be served by Piedmont Gas?

We hope to serve many new planned residential subdivisions but will also consider some existing communities to serve. We currently have agreements to serve several Pender County schools in the Hampstead and Surf City area. Piedmont Natural Gas is usually half the cost of propane, so it saves the taxpayers a lot of money.

After the initial work along US Hwy 17 is complete, what is next?

As soon as Piedmont Gas finishes installation along US Hwy 17 and Country Club Drive, the company plans to extend a line to reach Surf City. The extension can serve much of the commercial and residential growth.

And after the infrastructure is completed along US Hwy 17 and to Surf City, Piedmont Natural Gas will target expanding the system to reach more commercial projects and residential communities, mostly new developments.

Do you have a completion date?

Piedmont Natural Gas expects to be completed with the US Hwy 17/Hampstead project within a couple of months. Work on the Surf City connector will follow, about 6 months.

Will current homeowners have the opportunity to tap into the line for natural gas?

Most Piedmont Gas residential and commercial customers with gas lines directly in front along the street can receive a service line and meter to their building at no cost to them if they connect a primary gas appliance/s. For example, most residential homes can receive free installation (up to certain footage) for agreeing to connect either a water heater, or primary central heating, or a gas dryer, or a combination of gas cooking accompanied with one additional gas appliance of choice.

Most existing residential communities will not be considered for natural gas conversion; however, many will be considered, and some will qualify to have gas lines installed. When considering existing residential communities, surveys can be done to determine the level of interest among the homeowners. When there seems to be adequate interest for a project to be feasible, Piedmont may require a certain number of commitments from homeowners before approving a project. Usually, there is not a cost to homeowners when an existing community is served; rather the decision to approve is based on anticipated usage and usually takes a large percentage of agreements. When serving newly developed residential communities, the developer and/or builders will often agree to use a minimum of gas heat and gas water heater in every home. Some residential subdivisions may only require a minimum of gas water heaters, all depends on the cost of the project and the number of homes.

 

Will businesses have an opportunity to tap into the line too?

Piedmont Natural Gas commercial customers usually qualify at no cost for a service line and meter by connecting either a water heater or heat or cooking equipment.

Both residential and commercial projects that are in the vicinity of a natural gas line but don’t have direct access must use enough gas to justify extending a line or pay a Cost in Aid of Construction to make up the difference.

Henderson Field Airport to receive state funds

Seven N.C. Airports to Receive State Funds

RALEIGH – The N.C. Board of Transportation approved state funds totaling $4,285,500 for projects that help improve safety and customer service at seven North Carolina airports. The board approved the funds during its May 6 meeting.

The funds the N.C. Board of Transportation approved are:
• $240,300 in state funds for the design and bid of runway and apron rehabilitation at Curtis L. Brown Field in Elizabethtown,
• $775,800 in state funds for phase one of wildlife fence installation at Davidson County Airport in Lexington,
• $90,000 in state funds for the design and bid of an airfield drainage system assessment at Duplin County Airport in Kenansville,
• $189,000 in state funds for the design and bid of runway pavement rehabilitation at Henderson Field Airport in Wallace,
• $482,400 in state funds for AWOS and glideslope critical area clearing at Johnston Regional Airport in Smithfield,
• $2,340,000 in state funds for land acquisition in the runway protection zone at Moore County Airport in Carthage,
• $168,000 in state funds for taxiway land acquisition at Tarboro-Edgecombe Airport.

North Carolina’s 72 public airports serve as vital economic engines connecting people and business enterprises with the world. Airports and aviation-related industries contribute more than $61 billion to North Carolina’s economy each year, according to the 2021 State of Aviation report. They support 373,000 jobs, generate more than $2.5 billion in state and local tax revenue, and provide more than $15 billion in personal income.

The funds awarded will be distributed by the NCDOT Division of Aviation, and do not necessarily represent the total cost of a project.

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COVID-19 vaccination appointments are NOW being accepted for everyone 12 years and older. Schedule your appointment in Burgaw or Hampstead. (Moderna vaccine is only approved for age 18 and up.)

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