BLADENBORO — After a lengthy discussion Monday, the Bladenboro Town Board voted not to change its hiring policy concerning the minimum requirements for employment.
The board had backed itself into a corner recently when it approved the hiring of a candidate for the town’s maintenance department. Shortly after, the town learned the candidate did not have a high school diploma or GED and rescinded the job offer.
Commissioner Gene Norton made the motion to keep the policy unchanged, rather than rewriting the policy to allow the town to hire a candidate without a GED.
“I don’t see why we need to change it,” Norton said. “We don’t want to encourage kids to quit school to go to work.”
The ensuing discussion brought out the fact that the town has hired temporary employees for up to a year without a high school diploma or GED. That prompted Commissioner Cris Harrelson to claim the issue was solved.
“So as I am hearing it, we can hire a temporary employee for up to a year and, if they get a GED or diploma, a full-time position is waiting,” he said. “If they don’t, they know they won’t have a job. We’ve obviously used that option already.”
Commissioner Sarah Benson agreed, and went one step further.
“If we’d known this before, the employee we hired then took away the offer would still be employed and we wouldn’t be having this discussion,” she said.
But Town Administrator John O’Daniel pointed out one fly in that ointment.
“I think we would rather be able to hire someone in the maintenance department, for instance, who can get their certifications right away rather than have to wait up to a year — and then maybe having to start over with a search,” he said.
Commissioner Jeff Atkinson said he still didn’t see a need to change the policy, and said there are individuals “out there who just need to be given a chance to succeed.”
Nobody spoke during an earlier public hearing on the matter, and the board voted 4-1 not to amend the policy. Commissioner Billy Ray Benson was the lone no vote.
In other action Monday, the board:
— Accepted bids for surplus town property. Isaac Singletary won the bids for three generators, paying a total of $600 for the trio; Harold Hester won the bid for a tractor, paying $2,675.
— Heard from Norton, who requested the board do away with the $600 in discretionary funds each commissioner is given to be used for charitable donations. He said he preferred the money be used by the town for something “that would benefit more people, like paving streets.” The board voted against the request.
— Tabled a request to continue striping parking areas in the downtown area until O’[Daniel can get quotes on the work. O’Daniel said work was already being done along Railroad Street and at the Town Hall by Sykes Paving for $450.
— Approved the purchase of a 2018 Ford Interceptor police vehicle at a cost of $28,639 and asked O’Daniel to look into bids on an older town police vehicle, along with financing options.
— Approved O’Daniel to continue looking into quotes and grants on renovation and upgrades at the town’s police building.
— Scheduled a public parks and recreation workshop for Tuesday, Sept. 19, at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or email@example.com.