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County Commission Hears of Progress in Overcoming Drainage Issues

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by Blake Proctor

After having adjourned a special called meeting a mere twenty minutes earlier, Chairman Charles Ray Peterson gaveled the scheduled April 5th Commission meeting to order at 6:30 pm. With Commissioner Dr. Ophelia Munn-Goins in attendance via Zoom, all members were present.

Pastor Sam van Slyke of Bladenboro First Baptist Church provided the invocation; County Manager Greg Martin led the Pledge of Allegiance. The nine-item Consent Agenda was then quickly dispatched.

Chairman Peterson requested that Dr. Margaret Lawrence, Executive Director of Bladen SmartStart, SmartStart Director of Operations Lillian Bryant, and Bladen Library Director Kelsey Edwards come forward.

As the three assembled before the Commission table, he came around the front to read and present a Proclamation declaring April 2021 as the Month of the Young Child; he further proclaimed April 4th through April 10th to be both the 50th anniversary of the Week of the Young Child as well as the associated National Library Week.

There were no individuals or delegations desiring to address the Board; and, there were no Commissioners having matters of interest they wished to discuss.

Tax Administrator Renee Davis stepped to the dais to request the Board’s consideration of approving bids on three properties the County had acquired through tax foreclosures. An offer of $2,050 for property off Mae Belles drive in Elizabethtown was unanimously accepted, as the bid equaled the County’s cost of acquisition.

However, while the $4,320 bid on property located at 137 East Arcadia Road matched the County’s cost, the bid was turned down because the assessed value of $7,100 was much higher than that bid.

The $3,000 bid on the third property, off Baltimore Road in Caver’s Creek, also fell short of the $3,600 County investment and well shy of the $4,650 assessed value; it was also turned down.

Dr. Terri Duncan, Director of Bladen Health Department, approached the podium to inform the Board that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has implemented a program regarding flights from the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Guinea, where there are outbreaks of Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever.

She said that of the six international American airports that handle flights from these countries, all but Atlanta are in the north or on the west coast; there is absolutely no problem for Bladen County, but she felt duty-bound to advise the Board.

Dr. Duncan informed the Commission that North Carolina is transitioning to Managed Care for Medicaid. As part of the process, the Health Department must contract with pre-paid health plans to continue care management for high-risk adults and at-risk children.

The Department has negotiated with Atromitos, LLC for consulting services during this transition and requested that the Board approve the Master Services Agreement between them and the County. The Commission approved this request unanimously.

Finally, Dr. Duncan provided her twice-monthly update on the status of the Xi Jinping pandemic in the county and the State:

  POSITIVE TOTAL  
  TESTS DEATHS PERCENT
STATE 922,560 12,173 1.32%
BLADEN 3119 49 1.57%

       Percent is Deaths as a factor of Positive Cases

Dean Morris, Director of the Soil & Water Conservation District, was present to request consideration of eight swamp stream and lateral debris removal projects throughout the county. These projects consist of the following:

  • Crawley Swamp, $17,497 by Hall’s Tree Service
  • Bryant-Davis Canal, $14,203 by Hall’s Tree Service
  • Big Swamp Section 4, $70,025 by Hall’s Tree Service
  • Bryant Canal laterals, $23,540 by DG Jackson Construction
  • Grimsley Farm lateral, $6,600 by DG Jackson Construction
  • Hammond’s Creek, $78,000 by DG Jackson Construction
  • Richardson Community, $16,350 by DG Jackson Construction
  • Slender/Horsepen Branch, $51,000 by DG Jackson Construction

Citing the need to remedy the county’s ongoing drainage problems, the Commission enthusiastically approved these projects on a single vote.

Imparting additional good news, Mr. Morris then provided an update on beaver control activities to enhance the dredging projects. He affirmed that 194 beavers and 183 dams have been removed from the streams and swamps in Bladen County thus far in the program.

Moving on to Advisory Board appointments, the Commission again tabled the single appointment each to the Division on Aging Advisory Board and the ETJ member of the Elizabethtown Planning & Zoning Commission/Board of Adjustment. These appointments will be added to the seven appointments to be considered at the next meeting.

To round out the meeting, County Manager Martin once more reviewed the Board calendar for the rest of April and for May.

He then requested the Board consider accepting a Strategic Planning proposal from Fountainworks to give Bladen County’s leaders a vision for the future and confidence in the path to achieve it. Mr. Martin’s request was unanimously approved.

On a query from Commissioner Munn-Goins regarding the dams and locks on the Cape Fear River, Mr. Martin informed the Board that Locks #1 and #3 are open, but that Lock #2 is still closed.

As the agenda items had run out, the meeting adjourned at 7:09 pm.

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