Update: Board of Elections discusses security, possible move of Veteran’s Affairs office
By Erin Smith
Larry Hammonds, Director of Bladen County Veteran Affairs said, “I have not been contacted at all about moving the Veteran Affairs office, which is a county office.”
“I would be very apprehensive about moving the office because of the stress it may cause my Veterans,” Hammonds added.
The Bladen County Board of Elections met on Tuesday and discussed several items including building security at the Board of Elections office.
Bladen County Board of Elections President Jens Lutz said the board took some steps to implement some changes to the facility such as not allowing unauthorized personnel beyond certain points in the building.
The board discussed adding a “buzz door” at the employees entrance to the building and to install security cameras at various points throughout the building.
There was also discussion about the Veterans Affairs Office which is housed in the Board of Elections building. Board of Elections member Bobby Ludlum said he was hoping to get an answer from Bladen County Commissioner Michael Cogdell regarding the Veteran’s Affairs Office. Ludlum said he did not want to prevent handicapped veterans from using the restroom if need be nor to prevent Veteran’s Affairs Officer Larry Hammonds from using the restroom if he needs it.
“If we put the door up, we’re going to have to buzz them through,” said Ludlum.
Lutz said that would not be necessary as the door would only buzz from one side and be able to be opened from the other side.
It was approved unanimously to install duplicate locks throughout the building.
Board of Elections Director Cynthia Shaw asked what type of security doors are installed at the Detention Center.
Board of Elections member Rob Davis said, “There is a button. You press the button and the lady up front then hits a button that unlocks that door. There is cameras over it so she can see who it is pressing on that button.”
Bladen County Commissioner Michael Cogdell addressed the Board of Elections and told them that some of the Bladen County offices will be vacating the second floor of the Bladen County Courthouse over the next two weeks and moving to the former Bladen County Sheriff’s Office building. Commissioner Cogdell said an office holder on the basement floor could potentially be asked to move to the second floor, thereby potentially opening up an office space for the Veteran’s Affairs Office. The first floor or the basement of the Courthouse has a handicapped to offer access to the Veterans.
“If need be, we can move one of those offices off the bottom to the second floor and then make a space available for the VA on the ground floor,” said Cogdell.
He also said Bladen County Manager Greg Martin said he would check with the Powell-Melvin Agricultural Center on Smith Circle to see if any office space is available there.
Cogdell said any relocation of offices would not be able to take place for another two to three weeks. He advised the Board of Elections if they want an office space in the Courthouse, they need to go ahead and let the County staff know that it is needed.
“Everything was very amicable,” said Lutz of the board has been working together since they were sworn in.
Some citizens are voicing concerns because there was no public announcement on BladenOnline.com about the Elections Board meeting.
Watch the video provided by the Bladen County Board of ElectionsShare: