County unveils plans to boost economic development


ELIZABETHTOWN — Bladen County Commissioners Chairman Charles Ray Peterson is hopeful that plans being put in place over the past two months will give the county’s economic development effort a boost.

During Monday’s regular meeting of the Board of Commissioners, Peterson told those in attendance that an aggressive plan has been put in place.

“While it is clear that the Bladen County Economic Development Office and Bladen’s Bloomin’ have had a common alignment in terms of working toward the creation of additional jobs and tax base for Bladen County, a number of measures have been identified and addressed that will improve the economic development program by enhancing communication and transparency between (Bladen’s Bloomin’ and the county’s economic development office),” Peterson said.

The areas pinpointed included:

— Monthly updates from Economic Development Director Chuck Heustess to the county commissioners, Bladen Bloomin’ directors, county Economic Development Advisory Board and Bladen County Committee of 100.

— Salara compensation for Heustess being partially compensated by Bladen’s Bloomin’.

— Bladen’s Bloomin’ agrees that, should the organization cease to operate, its assets will be transferred to Bladen County.

— Two county commissioners will join the Bladen’s Bloomin’ board. One will serve as an ex-officio member on the Executive Committee.

In other action, the board:

— Heard from NCDOT District Engineer Drew Cox, who told commissioners about changes that will be made at the N.C. 410 and N.C. 41 intersection. Cox said that, for safety reasons, a “rural high-speed round-about” would be installed to offset the number of accidents at the location. Until the project is complete, a four-way stop will be implemented. The board approved of the changes.

— Heard from Bladen County Health Educator Marianne Valentiner about the state of the county’s health. She told commissioners the No. 1 cause of death in the county is heart disease, followed by throat/lung cancer and lower respiratory disease. At No. 4 is cerebrovascular disease and No. 5 are unintentional injuries from car wrecks, gunshot wounds, drowning, etc. Valentiner also said the teen pregnancy rate in the county has been declining since 2001.

— Rejected an offer of $1,500 for purchase of county property on Nobie Street. The board was told the property was valued at $6,470 and the foreclosure cost to the county was $4,300.

The next meeting of the county commissioners will be Monday, April 3, at 6:30 p.m.

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