09/29/2022
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The County of Bladen Board of County Commissioners have covered a lot of issues in February. Maria C. Edwards, Clerk to the Board, released minutes for two Bladen County Board of County Commissioners meetings.

The minutes from the meeting held on February 10, 2022, state the following.

A Special Meeting of the Bladen County Board of Commissioners was held at 6:00 pm on Thursday, February 11, 2022, in the Commissioners’ Room, located on the lower level of the Bladen County Courthouse. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. 

Members present were: Chairman Ray Britt Vice Chairman Rodney Hester Mark Gillespie Charles R. Peterson Cameron McGill Dr. Danny Ellis Arthur Bullock Michael Cogdell Dr. Ophelia Munn-Goins Chairman Britt called the meeting to order at 6:00 pm. 

Commissioner McGill provided an invocation. County Manager Greg Martin led the Pledge of Allegiance. 

County Manager Greg Martin provided an overview of a presentation reflecting steps already completed regarding the awarded $6.335 million in ARPA funding. He stated with the Final Rule being adopted by the US Treasury, more flexibility was granted to counties, as a $10 million standard allowance has been implemented. He also stated that development of policies, incorporating federal Uniform Guidance and North Carolina statutory authority, would be required for all expenditures and projects. 

Mr. Martin stated that the next steps to be taken will include identifying eligible projects and allowable costs. 

Budgets for each approved eligible project and program would be developed, in order to monitor sub-awards and contracts. Submittal of reports and audits will be ongoing during the process as well. 

Referencing focus areas identified in the recently adopted Strategic Plan, Mr. Martin identified potential ARPA projects, submitted earlier, to the appropriate strategic plan focus area. 

Following discussion regarding rapidly increasing prices and upon a motion by Commissioner Peterson, seconded by Commissioner McGill, the Board approved earmarking the $1.4 million in ARPA funding to complete a VIPER radio project. This includes $600,000 for VIPER radios to local fire departments. The motion passed by a vote of eight (8) AYES (Peterson, McGill, Ellis, Britt, Hester, Bullock, Munn-Goins) to one (1) NO (Cogdell). 

Chairman Britt briefly recessed the meeting at 6:46 pm. Chairman Britt reconvened the meeting at 6:52 pm. 

Following discussion regarding small business loans and/or grants, and business and/or nonprofit support, Commissioner Cogdell made a motion to earmark $635,000 for small business loans and/or grants. 

Commissioner Munn-Goins provided a second. 

Mr. Martin reminded the Board that, as a general rule, a local government may not grant or donate funds to a private entity to support the private entity’s operations or capital needs. 

However, a local government may contract with any private entity to undertake a program or activity that the local government has statutory authority to perform. 

He further stated that funding decisions should consider the following factors; 1. Purpose 2. Eligibility Criteria 3. Ensure State Authority 4. Amounts February 10, 2022, Following discussion regarding implementation, facilitation, and documentation, Commissioner Cogdell amended his motion to also include $450,000 for each Commissioner to make recommendations for funding an entity or entities within their districts ($50,000 each). A second was not immediately provided. Following additional discussion, Commissioner Cogdell amended his motion to earmark $650,000 for small business loans and/or grants and business/nonprofit support, including $450,000 for each Commissioner to make recommendations for funding an entity or entities within their districts ($50,000 each), and with $200,000 to assist in funding other business needs. Commissioner McGill provided a second. The motion passed unanimously. 

Following discussion regarding Health Department facility improvements and upon a motion by Commissioner Cogdell, seconded by Commissioner McGill, the Board unanimously authorized Mr. Martin to develop a Request for Proposals to update client workflow and a negative pressure room, and earmarked $800,000 for the project. Board members discussed other possible projects, but did not take any further action. 

Chairman Britt recognized Commissioner Bullock to address the Board. Commissioner Bullock shared that Commissioner Cogdell had recently been elected as President of the North Carolina Association of Black County Officials. The Board expressed support. Upon a motion by Commissioner McGill, seconded by Commissioner Gillespie, the meeting was unanimously adjourned 7:58 pm. 

The minutes from the meeting held on February 7, 2022, provided by Maria C. Edwards, Clerk to the Board, state the following.

A regular meeting of the Bladen County Board of Commissioners was held at 6:30 pm on Monday, February 7, 2022. The meeting was held in the Commissioners’ Room, located on the lower level of the Bladen County Courthouse, 106 East Broad Street, Elizabethtown. The following members were present: Ray Britt, Chairman Rodney Hester, Vice Chairman Charles Peterson Michael Cogdell Cameron McGill Dr. Danny Ellis Mark Gillespie Arthur Bullock Dr. Ophelia Munn-Goins Attorney: Allen Johnson, Johnson Law Firm ITEM 1. Reverend David T. Foster, Bladen Baptist Association Associational Mission Strategist, provided an invocation. County Manager Greg Martin led the Pledge of Allegiance. ITEM 2. Consent Items: Upon a motion by Commissioner Peterson, seconded by Commissioner McGill, the Board unanimously approved the following Consent Items. A. Agenda. B. Minutes of January 18, 2022 Regular Meeting. C. Minutes of January 26, 2022 Special Meeting. D. 

Budget Amendments through February 7, 2022: View the report by clicking here.

E. County Attorney Invoices Date Department Amount 02/03/2022 February 2022 Retainer 300.00 Total $ 300.00 F. Courthouse Lawn Use for a Community Prayer Service. G. State Capital and Infrastructure Fund (SCIF) Project Ordinance, Certification, and Conflict of Interest Policy. H. Bid in the Amount of $4,360 submitted by Mr. Jeffrey Pridgen for CountyOwned Property (PIN No. 2229-00-28-1086) Located off NC 210 East, Lake Creek Township. I. Review of FY 2021-2022 Bladen Community College Budget Template. J. FY 2021-2022 Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA) in the Amount of $3,780. K. 

The Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month Proclamation was approved.

ITEM 3. Public Hearing: A. Chairman Britt declared open a Public Hearing to receive comment regarding a Rezoning Request (PIN No. 0392-00-53-2753). Planning Director Greg Elkins provided a brief overview of the request and process. He stated that adjacent property owners who attended the January 18, 2022 public meeting held by the Planning Board expressed support of the rezoning request. Mr. Elkins introduced Mrs. Hope Campbell of Clark Brothers, LLC, and Attorney Matt Nichols to address the Board. Mr. Nichols provided information regarding the subject property located at the intersection of NC 87 West and NC Hwy. 87 Bypass West. No one else in attendance addressed the Board. Chairman Britt declared closed the Public Hearing. 

B. The Board determined the rezoning request is consistent with the adopted 2013-2030 Bladen County Land Use Plan, is reasonable, and in the public interest. Upon a motion by Commissioner McGill, seconded by Commissioner Gillespie, the Board unanimously approved the Rezoning Request to rezone property (PIN No. 0392-00-53-2753) located at the intersection of NC Hwy. 87 West and NC Hwy. 87 Bypass West from Residential/Agricultural (RA) to Commercial (C). 

ITEM 4. Individuals/Delegations Wishing to Address the Board: A. Chairman Britt recognized Ms. Sarah Shipman of Southeastern Community Action Partnership (SCAP) to address the Board. Ms. Shipman provided a brief overview of services provided through SCAP, as well as the counties served, including Bladen, Pender, Robeson, Columbus, Scotland, Hoke, and Brunswick counties. Following brief discussion, the Board expressed appreciation. February 7, 2022 B. Chairman Britt recognized a delegation from East Arcadia, consisting of Linda Miller and Lillian Graham, to discuss recent events surrounding East Arcadia Volunteer Fire Department and its possible dissolution. Ms. Miller deferred to East Arcadia Volunteer Fire Department (EAVFD) Board of Directors Chairman Jimmie Monroe to address the Board. Mr. Monroe shared that a large percentage of East Arcadia citizens have expressed their desire to do what needs to be done to return the EAVFD to a fully functioning and certified volunteer fire department. He stated that a new fire chief had been elected, previous volunteers have returned, and new volunteers have expressed willingness to support the department and new fire chief. Chairman Britt expressed concern regarding the amount of time needed to rejuvenate the department to assure equipment is in working order, training for volunteers is up-to-date, and that the NC Department of Fire Marshal representatives can certify that the department is viable and able to provide necessary protection to fire district residents. He further stated that the County must proceed with the process to secure necessary fire protection services by contracting with adjacent out-of-county fire departments. Ms. Graham supported Mr. Monroe’s statements, and indicated the department members’ willingness to work with Bladen County Emergency Services Department and the Office of State Fire Marshal in order to be able to provide necessary fire protection services. She further stated that it was understood that it may take time to complete required steps, and that fire protection service was a necessity in the interim. She also expressed appreciation to other volunteer fire departments Following discussion, the several Board members indicated willingness to revisit when required certifications are in place. 

ITEM 5. Matters of Interest: Chairman Britt recognized Commissioner Munn-Goins to address the Board. Commissioner Munn-Goins requested a status update regarding Elwell Ferry. Mr. Martin stated that the ferry had been removed from the river in order to fully inspect and repair the vessel for insurance purposes. He stated that the last update from NC Department of Transportation indicated an anticipated operational date of May, 2022. Commissioner Munn-Goins also expressed concern regarding receptacles at the East Arcadia solid waste convenience site being overfilled on Monday’s which causes frustration for citizens not being able to drop off their refuse. Mr. Martin stated that he would follow up with General Services Manager Kip McClary regarding her concerns. Chairman Britt recognized Commissioner Bullock to address the Board. 

Commissioner Bullock expressed frustration regarding a recent blood drive which appeared to be hosted by the County of Bladen. Cape Fear Valley’s mobile unit was parked in front of the Bladen County Courthouse, and the named point of contact to secure an appointment time was recorded as Maria Edwards, Clerk to the Board. He reminded Board members of a Mount Calvary Leadership Development Center incentive-paid vaccination event which was not supported by the County of Bladen, as the Board had recently declined participating in an incentive-paid vaccination program funded by a grant from the State. He then stated that the news release regarding a January 27, 2022 blood drive reflected incentives to participate, including a lottery and free t-shirts. He expressed frustration that one event appeared to be supported by the County and the other was not supported. Chairman Britt recognized Commissioner Cogdell to address the Board. Commissioner Cogdell inquired if the County was setting a precedent by appearing to treat groups differently. The Board was not requested to consider approving a blood drive event. Commissioner Bullock asked Attorney Allen Johnson if the County could suffer any legal ramifications. Mr. Johnson stated that he would be glad to research if the Board requested his office to look into the issue. Commissioner Ellis suggested if a request was submitted regarding a similar future event that consideration of including a disclaimer that the County did not support any paid incentives for any citizen or individual who may choose to participate. February 7, 2022 

ITEM 6. Revenue Department: (Renee Davis, Tax Administrator/Assessor) A. Ms. Davis provided an overview of a sealed bid process which the Board approved by way of Resolution adopted during the December 20, 2021 Board meeting. The subject county-owned property (PIN No. 0268-05-28-4008) is located at 607 West Seaboard Street, Bladenboro. The lone bid in the amount of $4,000 was submitted by James C. Green, Jr. Following brief discussion and upon a motion by Commissioner Peterson, seconded by Commissioner McGill, the Board unanimously accepted Mr. Green’s bid in the amount of $4,000 for the county-owned property (PIN No. 0268-05-28-4008) located at 607 West Seaboard Street, Bladenboro. B. Ms. Davis provided a brief overview of a Report of Unpaid 2021 Taxes that are a lien on real property pursuant to NCGS 105-369. Upon a motion by Commissioner Bullock, seconded by Commissioner Munn-Goins, the Board unanimously accepted a Report of Unpaid 2021 Taxes that are a lien on real property. C. Upon a motion by Commissioner Cogdell, seconded by Commissioner Bullock, the Board unanimously established a payment deadline of March 18, 2022 to avoid advertisement of unpaid 2021 real property taxes pursuant to NCGS 105-369. 

ITEM 7. General Services: (Kip McClary, Director) A. Mr. McClary provided an overview of a proposed agreement to allow for various parking lots resurfacing, including Division on Aging, Department of Social Services, gymnasium, Health Department, and Water Department parking lots. Following brief discussion and upon a motion by Commissioner Cogdell, seconded by Commissioner Gillespie, the Board unanimously approved an Agreement with Barnhill Construction, Inc. in the amount of $371,086.50 to provide resurfacing services for each of the following parking lots; Division on Aging, Department of Social Services, gymnasium, Health Department, and Water Department. 

ITEM 8. Soil and Water Conservation District: (Dean Morris, Director) A. Mr. Morris introduced Mr. Albert Shaw in attendance to provide a brief overview of a recently awarded NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Farmland Preservation Division Grant. Mr. Shaw expressed appreciation to Mr. Morris and staff for assistance in completing an extensive application for the state to consider accepting 365 acres of farm land and timber land into the preservation program. He stated that Bladen County Soil and Water Conservation District would administer the easement. He also expressed appreciation to the Board for its support as well. Upon a motion by Commissioner Peterson, seconded by Commissioner McGill, the Board unanimously approved a NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Farmland Preservation Division Grant award in the amount of $250,915 for Wildwood Farms Perpetual Conservation Easement. Mr. Morris stated that this easement was the first for Bladen County and expressed appreciation to Mr. Shaw for his foresight. 

ITEM 9. Health Department: (Dr. Terri Duncan, Director) A. Dr. Duncan provided an update regarding COVID-19 and the vaccination process. 

ITEM 10. Advisory Boards: A. Adult Care Home Community Advisory Board (1): Upon a motion by Commissioner Peterson, seconded by Commissioner Gillespie, the Board February 7, 2022 unanimously appointed Erin Hinson to an unexpired term of service, with the term expiring June 30, 2022. B. BARTS Advisory Board (5): Commissioner Bullock made a motion to reappoint Wendell Brown, Jerry Graham, Amber Sholar, Lisa Nance and Joan Allen. Commissioner Peterson stated that Ms. Allen had requested to be replaced on the advisory board. Commissioner Bullock revised his motion to reappoint Wendell Brown, Jerry Graham, Amber Sholar, and Lisa Nance; and to appoint Joyce Walters to three-year terms of service. Commissioner MunnGoins provided a second. The Board unanimously reappointed Amber Sholar, Lisa Nance, and waiving the rules on term limits, unanimously reappointed Wendell Brown and Jerry Graham, and appointed Joyce Walters to three-year terms of service, with terms expiring December 31, 2024. 

ITEM 11. Advisory Board Appointments for Consideration During February 21, 2022 Meeting: A. Community Child Protection Team (2) B. Keep Bladen Beautiful (1) C. Region N Aging Advisory Council (6) D. Nursing Home Advisory Committee (3) 

ITEM 12. County Manager: (Greg Martin) A. Mr. Martin reviewed calendars for the months of January and February 2022. Mr. Martin reviewed an Amendment to the Contract to Audit Accounts with Thompson, Price, Scott, Adams & Company, PA (TPSA). He stated that the amendment will allow for an extension of time to complete the audit. He also shared that Mr. Scott planned to attend the February 21, 2022 meeting to present findings from the FY 2020-2021 audit. Commissioner Cogdell inquired when a new audit services request for proposal may be published. He stated that TPSA had provided those services for a minimum of eight years. Mr. Martin stated that Requests for Proposal have historically been published every three to four years. Upon a motion by Commissioner Peterson, seconded by Commissioner Hester, the Board unanimously approved an Amendment to the Contract to Audit Accounts with Thompson, Price, Scott, Adams & Company, PA. Mr. Martin provided a brief overview of a 2022-2032 Bladen County Strategic Plan which was developed with input from the Board, Department Managers, and citizens. The County contracted with Fountainworks, Raleigh, to provide strategic planning services to facilitate the process. The plan includes six (6) focus areas, Environment & Agriculture, Healthy Community, Quality Education, Prosperous Economy, Safe & Prepared Community, and Community Infrastructure, Housing & Transit. Following discussion and upon a motion by Commissioner Gillespie, seconded by Commissioner McGill, the Board unanimously approved the 2022-2032 Bladen County Strategic Plan. 

ITEM 13. Individuals/Delegations Wishing to Address Commissioners: No one in attendance addressed the Board. 

ITEM 14. Matters of Interest to Commissioners: Chairman Britt recognized Commissioner Cogdell to address the Board. Commissioner Cogdell inquired if summary information will be shared with Board members prior to the 6:00 pm Special Meeting regarding use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funding. Mr. Martin stated that information will be shared with Board members prior to the meeting. February 7, 2022 Chairman Britt recognized Commissioner McGill to address the Board. Commissioner McGill shared that property adjacent to the Board of Elections facility is still available. He expressed interest to receive information regarding both tracts of land, one on the right hand side of the building, and the other tract located behind the building. Chairman Britt recognized Commissioner Ellis to address the Board. Commissioner Ellis asked if the correspondence to Bladen County’s legislative delegation regarding roadside litter might encourage the state to provide assistance with roadside litter clean up. Mr. Martin stated that correspondence could be submitted to request assistance. Upon a motion by Commissioner Peterson, seconded by Commissioner Ellis, the Board unanimously adjourned at 7:34pm. 

View County of Bladen meetings on the County of Bladen’s YouTube Channel linked below.