County signs agreement with state, but under protest

By: W. Curt Vincent - Bladen Journal

ELIZABETHTOWN — backed into a legal corner and with one hand twisted behind its collective back, the Bladen County Board of Commissioners on Monday voted to approve a memorandum of understanding with the N.C. Department of Health & Human Services — but attached a letter of protest.

The one-year agreement with the state covers all services through the Bladen County Department of Social Services except Medicaid.

According to DSS Director Vickie Smith, the agreement puts the counties in a difficult position of having to get retrained and “be pretty much perfect” in the execution of duties or face fines.

“We’re really not being given a choice on whether to sign this MOU,” Smith said. “We’re bound by state statute on this.”

Wayne Raynor, the acting director of Bladen County Health & Human Services, told the board he wished the state had approached this differently, because “mistakes are going to be made; these jobs are being done by human beings.”

Commissioners asked how often job evaluations are being done and Smith said, according to county policy, they are handled at least once a year.

“Although, for a new employee, we do them every three months for the first year,” she added. “And if there are issues that arise along the way for anyone, we handle those immediately.”

Commissioners Charles Ray Peterson Ashley Trivette and Michael Cogdell insisted they were against signing the agreement with the state, but on the advice from County Attorney Allen Johnson, the board entertained a motion to sign the MOU and attach a letter of protest that had previously been drafted by Craven County commissioners.

The board voted 8-1 in favor of the motion, with Peterson the lone no vote.

In other business Monday, the board:

—Designated Cogdell as the county voting delegate to the 2018 National Association of Counties’ annual conference.

— Approved a clinical affiliation agreement between Bladen Community College and Bladen County Emergency Medical Services.

— Approved a fireworks display for July 4 at Goldston’s Beach, as well as a fireworks display at Bay Tree Lakes on July 7.

— Held public hearings on the proposed 2018-19 economic development budget and a proposed $900,000 loan to Bladen’s Bloomin’ Agri-Industrial for a 26,490 square-foot industrial spec building at the Industrial Park. No one from the public spoke.

— Approved a request from Bladen County Schools to use $140,070.88 in capital outlay money for 14 projects around the district.

— Appointed Barbara Knight and Britt to the Bladen Community College Board of Trustees.

— Approved a request from Full Gospel Christian Church of Delivery for the use of the Bladen County Courthouse lawn every third Saturday of the month from noon to 1 p.m. for a pastoral prayer gathering.

The next meeting of the county commissoiners will be Monday, July 9, at 6:30 p.m.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-862-4163 or cvincent@bladenjournal.com.

W. Curt Vincent

Bladen Journal