Bladen commissioners roundly pleased with program updates

By: Alan Wooten - Bladen Journal

Bladen County commissioners were roundly pleased Monday night with updates given on a new hurricane recovery center opening, its behavioral health provider and ongoing improvements to tax collections.

The board took no controversial actions. A closed session of more than 30 minutes for a personnel discussion also did not result in an action before the meeting attended by all nine members adjourned.

Bradley Kinlaw, director of Emergency Management, said the new application center at 5853 U.S. 701 North has opened. This is the place where residents are able to complete their ReBuild NC application for aid in recovering from Hurricane Matthew.

ReBuild NC, the state’s Community Developoment Block Grant Disaster Recovery program commonly referred to as CDBG-DR, provides funding to applicants for housing repairs, homeowner reimbursement and other housing-related issues. It is not a walk-in center; rather, residents should call 211 to schedule an appointment at the center that is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.

Housing specialists are available to assist applicants with completing and submitting a program application. This takes about two hours, on average.

Hurricane Matthew struck Bladen County on Oct. 8, 2016. In North Carolina, it was responsible for 31 deaths, $4.8 billion in damages, flooding of five major rivers and breaches of 20 dams.

Sarah Stroud, CEO of Eastpointe, led a presentation with Victoria Jackson, the former chief of clinical operations now in the role of chief of external operations. They provided information on fiscal year 2018 numbers, telling commissioners 12 of their 278 employees live in Bladen County and that Bladen makes up 4 percent of Eastpointe’s total population as well as claims paid.

Stroud also explained the impact of two legislative moves and what they’ll mean going forward.

Eastpointe enables county residents to find care providers for mental health care, substance use needs, and intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The 14 providers include, in Elizabethtown, Assisted Care, Cape Fear Valley Bladen County Hospital, Carolinas Home Care Agency, Coastal Horizons Center, Monarch, Natasha Scarlett Russ-Long, Primary Health, Sandhills Behavioral Center and Southern Professional Counseling Service; in Bladenboro, Coastal Southeastern United Care and RHA Health Services NC; in Clarkton, Community Innovations; and in Fayetteville, New Leaf Therapeutic Services. Residential care locations in the county are provided by Carolinas Home Care, Community Innovations and RHA Health.

Renee Davis, tax administrator for the county, provided an update and a report for approval on the unpaid tax report and annual settlement for years 2008-17. Collections techniques are being reviewed and improved, she said, with the intent to provide better collection rates.

Some details about causes that create such a list were shared with commissioners before approval was given.

Grant Pait, director of Parks & Recreation, said the lowest bid for installation of a fence at Bladen County Park was $4,500. The four-foot, commercial vinyl fence will run about 400 feet in length.

County Manager Greg Martin said an opioid grant agreement submitted with the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust would provide funding to retain a consultant.

Commissioners, who regularly meet on the first and third Mondays of the month, will next meet Sept. 4 due to the Labor Day holiday.

Alan Wooten

Bladen Journal

Alan Wooten can be reached at 910-247-9132 or Twitter: @alanwooten19.

Alan Wooten can be reached at 910-247-9132 or Twitter: @alanwooten19.