LUMBERTON — The Robeson County Board of Commissioners on Monday voted unanimously to help pay for a new roof at the Robeson County Church and Community center.
The commissioners authorized County Manager Ricky Harris to meet with Lumberton City Manager Wayne Horne to work out an agreement where the two governing bodies will assist in paying for construction of the new roof. Darlene Jacobs, the center’s executive director, has said will cost about $100,000.
“The situation is getting worse. Every time it rains more tiles are falling down … .We are putting more buckets down,” Jacobs told the commissioners. “You are our last hope of not having to move to another location.”
The nonprofit provides services for poor people, such as food and clothing.
Jacobs, who has been before the commissioners several times recently to keep them up to date on the center’s roof condition, said she spoke with the Lumberton City Council and Horne and garnered their support if the county would join in the project.
Commissioner David Edge made the motion that the county provide $10,000 up front and $10,000 over the next four years for a total of $50,000 for the roof replacement. This would match a similar offer by the city, he said.
Commissioner Raymond Cummings strongly advocated that the commissioners take action to assist the center in its efforts to replace the roof at their aging Fifth Street location, which used to be a car dealership.
“I want to see the two managers sit down and come up with a plan,” he said. “We all agree that we have to do something.”
In other business, the commissioners on Monday, sitting as the Robeson County Housing Authority Board, passed several resolutions, including an amended 2014 budget and approval of bids for audit and accounting services. Because the Housing Authority is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for not following federal procurement policies, the resolutions approved by the commissioners must now be forwarded to HUD for its approval.
“It’s like a check and balance so that federal money is spent appropriately,” said County Attorney Patrick Pait, who is overseeing the local investigation into Housing Authority operations, after the the meeting. “We have to run these policies by HUD before they are initiated.”
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Pat McCoy, president of the Robeson County Unified Chapter of the NAACP, raised her organization’s concerns about the HUD investigation into the local housing authority’s procurement policies.
“We are asking two questions,” McCoy told the board. “Who will be held accountable for the pay back of funds? Will the pay back be budgeted on the backs of the taxpayers and residents of Robeson County?
“We appeal to you as we have in the past to review your policies of procurement as it also pertains to your hiring practices,” she said. “The NAACP hopes that you will hold the persons accountable, and not the residents of this county.”
As is protocol for the commissioners, they did not respond to McCoy. Pait, however, said after the meeting that it is still too early to know if the county will even have to pay HUD back any federal money.
“We have to look to HUD to see where this is going. HUD hasn’t given us all the solutions yet,” Pait said. “We are thankful they have given us the time we need to work through this.”
Near the close of the meeting, Commissioner Hubert Sealey made a motion that the board immediately “terminate any written or verbal” agreements it has that employs former County Attorney Hal Kinlaw in any capacity. The motion died without discussion due to lack of a second.
Harris said after the meeting that he will bring the issue of Kinlaw’s employment with the county before the commissioners at the beginning of October.
On Monday, the commissioners also:
— Approved a request to increase the level of care provided by the Red Springs Rescue and EMS to EMT-Paramedic. The upgraded status, according to Greg Bounds, the county’s EMS director, will help the county better respond to its volume of emergency calls.
— Approved a new pay and job classification plan for county employees. The plan is “equally balanced,” Harris said.
— Heard a presentation from Dr. David Brooks concerning the Rabies Vaccination Clinic, sponsored by the Robeson County Veterinary Medical Association, that will be held next week. The clinics will be held one day each at each of the county’s 32 fire departments.
During this period, rabies vaccinations will be offered at a discounted price of $8 for dogs and cats, Brooks said.
The commissioners unanimously voted in favor of paying $3 of the cost for each vaccination, meaning that pet owners will only have to pay $5 for each animal they have vaccinated.
— Heard an update from Brenda Hunt concerning BART (Borderbelt AIDS Resource Team). Hunt said there will be a ribbon-cutting Thursday from 1 to 2 p.m. at BART’s new location at 415 Country Club Road.
Hunt said that since BART moved from it former location on Fifth Street in Lumberton, daily number of people using her organization’s resources has increased.