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Bladenboro Board vetoes personnel policy change

Bladenboro Mayor Rufus Duckworth opens bids for surplus property at Monday’s meeting.

By Erin Smith

The Bladenboro Town Board met on Monday night and voted to leave the career ladder plan and requirements unchanged. The board had considered amending the policy to add language that would allow the town to hire someone who has not completed their GED or high school education.

Bladenboro Town Commissioner Gene Norton suggested the town leave the policy as it is. “We don’t want to encourage young people to quit school to go to work,” said Norton.

Commissioner Jeff Atkinson noted the current policy specifies one must have a GED or high school diploma to be considered for full-time employment. Town Administrator John O’Daniel told the board the current policy does not apply to employees classified as temporary. He explained the town does hire high school students to work as seasonal employees and they do not have GEDs.

Commissioner Billy Ray Benson said, “If we have people who can use common sense, we can give them a chance.”

He explained that a job candidate can’t be given a chance if it is not in the policy. Billy Ray Benson reminded the board they had hired an employee and 24 hours later learned he did not have a GED and had to notify he did not have a job because he lacked a GED.

Commissioner Cris Harrelson said if the town has the capacity to hire a temporary employee without a GED, they can stipulate that the employee must earn their GED within one year of being hired if they wish to become a full-time employee.

Commissioner Sarah Jane Benson said the last person hired was not given the opportunity to earn his GED.

O’Daniel said when hiring an employee for the water department, they need to be able to send them to obtain their certifications. If they have to wait for them to complete their GED, that slows the process down.

“The decision we make now can affect the Town of Bladenboro for years to come,” Norton said.

The board voted to approve leaving the policy unchanged. No one spoke at a public hearing conducted on the matter earlier in the meeting.

In other business,

* The board opened the bids for surplus property during the meeting. The surlus property included three generators and a tractor. Isaac Singletary was the highest bidder on the three generators with bids of $300 on the first generator, and $150 each on the second and third generators. Harold Hester was the highest bidder on the tractor with a bid $2,675.

* The board also voted to purchase a 2018 Ford Police Interceptor vehicle from Performance Ford of Clinton for $28,637. The board also directed O’Daniel to check on trading in an older model patrol car and financing costs.

* The board learned that O’Daniel is looking into a USDA grant to perform some renovations to the town’s police department building.

* There were no bids received on debris removal at 426 MLK Drive for code enforcement.

* Norton requested the board do away with discretionary funds and add the funds budgeted to another line item such as paving. He explained he does not utilize his discretionary account and feels it should be utilized on something which will benefit the needs of the citizens. Billy Ray Benson and Sarah Jane Benson both said they used their discretionary money to benefit local non-profits such as Boost the Boro and BeastFest. The board voted to keep the discretionary funds.

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