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Bladen commissioners recognize Hoskins, Sessoms for service

Dr. Pearly Graham Hoskins

By Marsha Burney

The Bladen County commissioners recognized Dr. Pearly Graham Hoskins at the board’s Monday night meeting. Dr. Hoskins served for 31 years as a physician at Bladen County Hospital and has recently retired.

Commission Chairman Charles Ray Peterson read a resolution acknowledging and commending Dr. Hoskins’ contributions to the county and her citizens. He presented the doctor with a plaque on behalf of the board and the county.

Over the years, Dr. Hoskins has also served on mutiple local, state, and national advisory boards in an effort to improve rural health care. For serving on one particular advisory board, Dr. Hoskins received a $5,000 stipend every year, but she donated her stipend to Bladen County Hospital to help local uninsured or underinsured women get mammograms.

At the commissioners’ meeting, Dr. Hoskins thanked the board for the recognition and said she was humbled by it. Dr. Hoskins grew up in East Arcadia.

Danette Sessoms

Danette Sessoms, a 30-year employee of the Bladen County Department of Social Services, was also recognized Monday night. Sessoms started her tenure with the county as a “temp worker” and then later earned her degree and became a full-time social worker for the county. DSS Director Vicky Smith told the commissioners that Sessoms had been “an excellent employee of Bladen County.” Chairman Peterson also presented Sessoms with a plaque for her retirement and long service to Bladen County.

The commissioners unanimously approved a maintenance agreement for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. County Manager Greg Martin told the commissioners that there were six properties currently applying for a buy-out from FEMA after severe damage during Hurricane Florence. By approving the maintenance agreement in the early stages of this process, if the properties are eventually bought out by FEMA, they would become county-owned properties. Martin advised the commissioners that these properties could never have permanent structures built on them again and would become an “on-going responsibility for the county.”

County Finance Director Lisa Coleman gave the commissioners a financial dashboard and also asked for approval of a one-year extension on a contract with county auditors Thompson, Scott, Price, Adams, and Company. Commissioner Michael Cogdell questioned Coleman about the county going with another auditor.

“Greg [Martin] and I discussed and researched this,” Coleman said. “This is an extension, so we’d be locked in at the same price we’ve had for the last three years [with Thompson, Scott, Price, Adams, and Company].”

Martin added, “The motivating factor was that we would lock in at the same price.”

Also Monday night, the commissioners accepted one bid on a foreclosed property, but declined another. A bid on property on Lloyd Road in Carvers Creek was accepted at $4,880, but a bid for $1,500 for property on Barney Coe Road near Lagoon was denied by the commissioners. Martin explained that the second bid (Barney Coe Road) was well below the county’s investment. He said the property on Lloyd Road would now be auctioned.

Dean Morris, Bladen Soil and Water Conservation Officer, gave the commissioners a brief update on the Brown’s Creek Debris Removal Project. He said the project, though more detailed than originally anticipated and though very “winding,” was completed. Morris said the project “looks really good,” and he added, “The contractors have been very good to work with.” Commissioner Ophelia Munn-Goins asked if the debris from the project could be moved more than 20 feet from where it has been moved because, as Dr. Munn-Goins stated, the beavers are simply moving it back and causing an issue.

“You are going to have to eradicate the beavers,” Morris answered. “The requirements are that it has to be moved 20 feet from the channel, and that’s where it is.”

Dr. Munn-Goins asked if the debris piles could be burned, and Morris said that would be up to individual land owners.

In other business Monday night, the commissioners:

— approved a Safe Kids Grant Agreement ($400), an Operation Medicine Drop Grant ($400), an agreement for Robeson Community College phlebotomy students to do clinicals in Bladen, and a nominal charge for childbirth classes, all presented by Bladen Health and Human Services Director Terri Duncan;

— held a preliminary budget public hearing for the 2019-2020 budget, but no one spoke; and,

— went into closed session for the stated purpose of “real property purchase” and “personnel” for one hour and 45 minutes, but no action was taken after returning to open session.

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