• 4:46 pm North Carolina celebrates National Aviation Day
  • 4:25 pm Early voting for congressional elections begins Wednesday
  • 4:05 pm SoutheasternTimes.com: Francis Zober guilty of rape, kidnapping, 12 counts of second-degree exploitation of a minor and more
  • 3:58 pm Burney Pleads Guilty to Murdering Father’s Girlfriend, Sentenced to Up to 38 Years in Prison
  • 3:44 pm Bladen County Man Pleads to Shooting, Sentenced to up to 11 Years in Prison
By: Robert G. Hester
commissioners meeting 3Bladen County Commissioners opened their meeting Monday night by unveiling the newly installed Bladen County Seal that includes “In God We Trust”
Commissioners and the public gathered around as Rev. Larry Hayes lead the group in prayer.  Numerous Bladen County ministers attended the meeting.
Included in the Consent Agenda was a System Safety Program Plan , an operational policy adopted by the BARTS Transportation program that operates in the county.
Another item included was listed as Appendix B that included additional items that have been added to the list for a Surplus Auction Sale scheduled for April 25, 2015.
Commissioners meeting 2Chairman Charles Ray Peterson ask for comments related to the upcoming 2015-2016 budget.  No one spoke, however, 56 completed surveys have been received.  He expressed appreciation for the ones received and disappointment that there were not more.
The top item mention on those received was Education, followed by Economic Development, Sheriff Offices (new jail), DSS Foster Care, Healthcare issues, Animal Shelter and BARTS Transportation in that order.  Peterson said the board would take a look at all as they begin the budget process.
 Commissioners meeting 1
John Elliott, Duke Energy Progress, addressed the board regarding a new solar system, Fayetteville Solar Facility, that was recently announced. It will be located on the Bladen-Cumberland county line.  Elliott told commissioners Duke was committed to solar energy in the state, in fact $500 million has been committed to the effort.  He introduced Harry Lancaster, commissioners meeting 6an engineer with 34 years experience, as the manager of the Bladen-Cumberland project.  120 acres of land will house 105,000 solar panels.  The project will begin later this month or early next month and approximately 250 jobs will be available during construction. The lease is for 25 years with an annual output of 48,000 MWh.  The new site is expected to be operational by the end of 2015.  Duke Energy Progress will be the owner/operator of the facility.
commissioners meeting 4Kevin P. Hennessy of Phoenix Solar and a partner in the construction of the project, stressed safety.  Safety is important.  He said the site would be restricted.  There may be brief time when as many as 10 trucks per day may visit the site, there will be no noise audible beyond the site which will be off NC 87, not visible from the road.  He said Horne Brothers of Fayetteville would do the construction.  
commissioners meeting 5In other news, Chris Ellis, Bladen County Tax Administrator, was administered the oath of office by Niki Dennis, Clerk of Superior Court.  He was recently re-appointment to the position.  Ellis provided an update on new efforts to collect delinquent taxes.  He stressed that Friday, March 20 will be last day before delinquent taxes will be advertised.  He also announced a more aggressive plan to collect taxes that are two years or more in arrears.  The County Attorney will mail letters to delinquent property owners that will spell out the details that include debt set-off, bank attachments, garnishment of wages and/or foreclosure.  A General Collection Letter will explain the action that will be used for property owners that owe for the current year and and one previous year.  The tax office will allow payment on a monthly basis, but the property owner must pay 1/2 of the taxes due and sign a written agreement.  If the agreement is not kept, bank attachment, garnishment of wages and other forms of forced collections will be used, including foreclosure.
The Board approved an Amendment to a 2014 Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG) Memorandum of Amendment. The total of the grant is $37,330.93
Commissioner Arthur Bullock was appointed to the Southeastern Economic Development Commission.
Greg Martin, County Manager provided an update on meetings that include additional meeting dates for the Board of Commissioners.  Two of the public events are scheduled for Lock & Dam #1.  They include a Shad Fry and a Shad Festival.
Meetings are planned for the Legislative Delegation at a date in the future and an update on the Jail Construction Project is scheduled for Friday at 10 a.m.