Spread the love

By Erin Smith

Those who want to conduct a protest or demonstration must now apply for a permit and must abide by the rules set forth in a new ordinance adopted by the Bladen County Board of Commissioners on Monday.

Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVicker addressed the board on Monday night and said the new ordinance is needed to help guide law enforcement and to “protect” those wanting to hold a demonstration or protest.

The new ordinance requires groups or individuals planning demonstrations to apply for a permit a minimum of 72 hours ahead of time. On the permit, they must supply the name, address and telephone number for the organizer of the demonstration, the name address and telephone number of the person giving notice if it is different from that of the organizer, the name of the organization or group sponsoring the demonstration, the date and time the demonstration will begin and end and the anticipated number of people who are expected to take part.

The ordinance also specifies types of locations where the demonstration can take place including sidewalks, medians, or at a location directed at a private residence. The ordinance states demonstrators cannot impede or block traffic nor interfere with pedestrian or vehicular traffic and spectators nor demonstrators may gather within 25 feet of an intersection.

“As you well know, we have had some problems at Smithfield Packing last year with demonstrators and they are coming back this year on February 1,” said Sheriff McVicker.

He said the Sheriff’s Office has received written notification and they anticipate 175 demonstrators taking part.

Sheriff McVicker said the ordinance titled, “Picketing and Public Demonstrations,” will have language that protects both the law enforcement officers and the demonstrators and to try to help keep the traffic pattern moving on NC 87 in the vicinity of the plant.

“It does not impede them from picketing or whatever? It’s just the egress, we want to make sure that is clear?” asked Commissioner Ophelia Munn-Goins,

“Yes ma’am,” replied Sheriff McVicker.

“They will be not forced but encouraged to move out of the space?” added Commissioner Munn-Goins.

“One of things you are talking about, is you have to be 25 feet from the intersection. The reason we came up with that is, when we had our demonstration last year, people were within five or ten feet from the intersection and 18-wheelers turning in to Smithfield were having to stop because they (the demonstrators) got too close,” said Sheriff McVicker.

Commissioner Michael Cogdell asked if Smithfield has a designated place for the demonstrators to gather. Sheriff Mcvicker explained that last year, Smithfield erected a temporary fence along the company’s property line and on NC 87 on the south side allowing the demonstrators to line up from the shoulder of the road up to the fence. He also said the demonstrators were allowed to line up from one entrance to the other. Sheriff McVicker said this year the demonstrators can do the same thing but they must be 25 feet away from the road.

“Did they impede the movement of traffic up there?” asked Commissioner Arthur Bullock.

“Yes, sir. Mr. Bullock, that’s where we had our problem. We were backing traffic up on NC 87 towards Fayetteville and we were trying to get them (the demonstrators) moved back, that’s when we had to make arrests. So we are trying to keep from having to do that,” said Sheriff McVicker.

Commissioner Bullock also pointed out that some demonstrators have gathered in the past in Tar Heel at the intersection of river Road and NC 87 near the Hardees restaurant. Sheriff McVicker stated this ordinance would assist with that situation as well.

“We’ve never had any problems with those people. However, they do impede traffic as they stand in the intersection trying to give the livestock water.” said Sheriff McVicker.

The Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the ordinance.

In other business, the Commissioners recognized Mildred Beatty for her retirement from the Bladen County Department of Social Services. Beatty had 30 years of service with the County. 

DSS Director Vickie Smith said Beatty was her Supervisor when she joined DSS.

“She has been a good, dependable and dutiful employee for Bladen County and to the citizens she has served,” said Smith.

Chairman Charles Ray Peterson thanked Mrs. Beatty for her service.

Beatty said, “I’m sure I’ll miss my clients, as well. I will miss the citizens of Bladen County.”

The board also voted unanimously to approve a Resolution of Support to name a section of the NC 87 Bypass after Mac Campbell Jr.  The resolution was presented Danny DeVane.

“Riding the highways I see these signs all the time honoring people that served on the boards and (State) Secretaries, and what have you. I want to tell you, there is none an y more deserving than Mac Campbell,” said DeVane.

Bladen County Manager Greg Martin told the board his office has received a letter of request from DeVane regarding the matter.

The board voted unanimously to approve the resolution.

The board unanimously approved the following contracts for storm debris removal:

* a Service Agreement with Ward Stocks of Stocks Landscaping for a Lower Black River Stream Debris Removal Project, a Cypress Creek Stream Debris Removal Project, a Brown Marsh Swamp Stream Debris Removal Project;

*a Service Agreement with D. G. Jackson Construction regarding an Upper Black River Stream Debris Removal Project, Change Order #1 to a service agreement with D. G. Jackson Construction regarding a Lower South River Stream Debris Removal Project; a Service Agreement with D. G. Jackson Construction for a Browns Creek Stream Debris Removal Project

H. * Consider Approving a Service Agreement with D. G. Jackson Construction for a Carvers Creek Stream Debris Removal Project, a Horse Pen Creek Stream Debris Removal Project, an Upper South River Stream Debris Removal Project;

*a Service Agreement with Jerry Hall Regarding an Ellis Creek Stream Debris Removal Project and a Harrison Creek Stream Debris Removal Project.

About Author