By Charlotte Smith
Bladen County Board of Commissioners discussed several items during their meeting on Monday evening. Ellie and Kynslie Kinlaw lead those in attendance in the pledge to the American flag. Rev. Larry Hayes gave the invocation.
After the consent items were approved with a unanimous vote, Lower Cape Fear Hospice Representative Lindsey Hinson was presented with the proclamation recognizing November as the National Hospice and Palliative Care Month.
Next up was Sabrina Murchison a Bladen County employee seeking to receive longevity pay. Murchison reported her hire date was just three days after the cut off date for her to receive longevity pay this year. She asked the commissioners if an exception could be made since her hire date trailed the cut off by only three days and to take into consideration she received a letter stating she had been selected as an employee back in August of 2013 even though she did not start her employment until November due to a government shutdown.
Chairman of the Board of Commissioners, Ray Britt explained a similar situation he had personally experienced and was not allowed benefits because of policy dates. He said, “If we do it for you then we would have to do it for everyone.”
Greg Martin, County Manager explained longevity pay is obtained after five years of continued service prior to the October 31 date.
Martin added the policy with the date was put in place so employees can receive holiday pay before the holidays. After all the discussion Britt thanked Murchison for attending but explained no action would be taken to make exceptions.
Commissioner Daniel Dowless reported after attending a meeting Highway 87 would be made into a four lane highway in 2024 from Highway 11 to Highway 74/76 and the widening plan is on the docket.
Dowless said turning Highway 87 into a four lane from Airport Road in Elizabethtown down to Elwell Ferry Road has gained priority as well, but has not been put on the docket at the time of his last meeting. Another meeting about the highway widening in Bladen County will be held in January 2019. Dowless will be attending the meeting next year and will report back to the board the development of the proposed project.
Dowless also reported a round-about at the intersection of Highway 41 and and Highway 410 is scheduled to take shape in 2019.
Chairman Britt asked Martin to send a letter of appreciation and recommendation for support for the widending of Highway 87 to the proper officials on behalf of the Bladen County Board of Commissioners.
Commissioner Cogdell announced there will be a complete restructuring of Mental Health and plans are under way for a major overhaul. Cogdell explained Edna, Blue Cross & Blue Shield and other health insurance companies will be joining managed care for mental health.
Cogdell told the commissioners he needed assistance from them on presenting questions and suggestions on changes needed in the county to the mental health officials. He also added treatment services for opioid users needs to be made available in Bladen County. Currently anyone seeking treatment for opioid addiction must go to a surrounding county to obtain medicine management services.
Lisa Coleman, Bladen County Finance Director gave the finance dashboard report and thanked the commissioners for the longevity pay the employees received today.
Commissioner Dr. Ophelia Munn-Goins asked if the finances were “on target”. Coleman said yes.
Dujana Register with Bladen County Health Department presented the bad debt report of all past due accounts with balances of less than $50 for the county to write off. The total amount of past due debt balances of $50 or less was $4,828.74 for FY 2017-18.
Commissioner David Gooden asked about the charges being reinstated to the patient’s balance if the patient comes back to the county for health services. Register said the amount due would be applied to the customer’s account balance if they receive more services from the health department. No one can be denied health services because of the inability to pay, Register confirmed. The motion to write off all the total past due debt of $50 or less in the amount of $4,828.74 was passed.
Register mentioned the Debt Set Off Program, which is a list of past due accounts with balances of $50 or greater in past due debt related to the county departments. The customers in the Debt Set Off Program did sign a payment agreement with the county to pay the debt according to Register. The total amount of past due accounts with balances of $50 or more total in the Debt Set Off Program is $21,008.99.
Register again reiterated, no one can be denied health services due to the inability to pay. The motion was tabled due to the Debt Set Off Program item not being on the agenda.
Wayne Raynor, Bladen County Health Director, presented Nutritionist/ Dietitian Services Contractual agreement to the commissioners. Commissioner Dr. Ophelia Munn-Goins raised concerns about the amount the contractor will be paid for the services.
Register explained employment advertisements have been published for over a year for the nutritionists/dietitian position. No applicants were able to accept the terms of the position with the county. Therefore, the contract has been proposed for the services needed for assessments to assist with the county’s nutrition care for clients. The motion passed for the contract unanimously.
Raynor continued his agenda items with the commissioners by going over the County Health Rankings Report. Bladen County has moved up on the report, which is a good thing according to Raynor.
He said, “A few years ago we were 99 and Bladen moved up to 95 this year.”
Advisory board appointments of the following boards were brought before the commissioners to vote on new members to be appointed: Bay Tree Lakes Fire Service District (2), Child Fatality Protection Team (2), Keep Bladen Beautiful (3), Planning Board (1), Watershed Review Board (3), White Lake Planning and Zoning (ETJ) (1)
On the commissioners meeting on December 17, the following appointments will be voted on: Ammon Fire Department Firefighters Relief Fund Board (1), BARTS Advisory Board (5), Bay Tree Lakes Fire Department Firefighters Relief Fund Board (1), Division on Aging Advisory Committee (3), East Arcadia Fire Department Firefighters Relief Fund Board (1)Economic Development Commission (4), Health and Human Service Agency Advisory Committee (4), Hickory Grove Fire Department Firefighters Relief Fund Board (1), Kelly Fire Department Firefighters Relief Fund Board (1), Library Board (3), Lisbon Fire Department Firefighters Relief Fund Board (1), Personnel Advisory Board (2), Tar Heel Fire Department Firefighters Relief Fund Board (1), Tobermory Fire Department Firefighters Relief Fund Board (1), White Oak Fire Department Firefighters Relief Fund Board (1).