ELIZABETHTOWN — After a short closed session, the Bladen County Board of Commissioners took aim Monday at bringing the salaries of the county’s paramedics, supervisors and training officers in line with surrounding counties.
The issue surfaced because Bladen County has been losing EMS personnel to neighboring counties because of the pay differential, and has been the spark for discussion in Bladen County for a number of months.
During the closed session to discuss personnel, commissioners agreed a pay hike was in the best interest of the county’s EMS, and the board voted in open session to go along with a recommendation made by the Piedmont-Triad Council of Governments.
“This is going to put us on equal footing with surrounding counties,” said County Manager Greg Martin.
There was no indication for what the new pay scale would be.
Also on Monday, Sondra Guyton, president of Keep Bladen Beautiful, told commissioners the group recently received three grants — from Duke Energy and Keep North Carolina Beautiful — totaling $1,500 for projects that include such things as community beautification at Brown’s Creek Bike Park and Brown’s Landing/Lock & Dam No. 2; sponsoring a sixth-grade essay contest in the spring; purchase a costume for a new character that will be named Recycle Ben to join Les Litter in promoting litter reduction and recycling at events in the county.
Guyton also told the board the group has been active in community events such as the recent Dublin Peanut Festival, where they took part in the parade, and will participate in the Fall Festival at Jones Lake State Park on Oct. 29.
Anyone wanting to schedule Les Litter and Recycle Ben for their event can call Guyton at 910-879-5634 or 910-645-4279.
In other business, the commissioners:
— Approved several items brought by Health & Human Services Director David Howard, including a nursing public health rotation agreement with the University of North Carolina at Wilmington; a nursing public health rotation agreement with Bladen Community College; a renewal agreement with Care Coordination for Children; an agreement with Bladen Community College for the Young Families Connect program; an agreement with Community Care of the Lower Cape Fear; and a addendum to the Bladen County Schools Health Agreement with regard to providing nurses and their duties.
Two items brought by Howard were not passed unanimously. Those were: an agreement with Columbus County Health Department for a short-term, part-time family nurse practitioner, which is currently a vacant position in Bladen County. Commissioners Charles Ray Peterson and Jimmie Smith cast the no votes; the other item was a three-year contract with Stanbio Lab for lab testing, with Peterson and Commissioner Daniel Dowless voting no.
— OK’s an agreement to house overflow prisoners at the new Onslow County Jail when closer facilities like Sampson County become full. Capt. Jeff Singletary of the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office told the board Onslow County also uses the same medical provider for its prisoners, so that would save the county money should that be necessary. Both Sampson and Onslow counties charge $50 per day for out-of-county prisoners to be housed.
— Unanimously approved a amendment brought by Martin to the Rules of Procedure for the county commissioners with regard to the meeting agenda. The new rule states only matters of business placed on the agenda by 5 p.m. on Thursday prior to the next meeting can be acted on, unless it is an emergency item.
— Approved two proposals for Lock & Dam No. 2 and No. 3 regarding the fish ladder construction. One proposal will be made to Smithfield Environmental Grant for up to $500,000 in construction and the second to the N.C. Division of Water Resources for budgeting $840,000 in its next budget cycle.
The next meeting of the county commissioners will be Monday, Oct. 3, at 6:30 p.m.