LUMBERTON — The county commissioners approved on Monday spending $34,000 to buy supplemental body armor for deputies so the lawmen can have added protection during an active shooter situation.
The money will be enough to buy each county Sheriff’s Office deputy a vest that can be put on over their standard-issued body armor, County Manager Ricky Harris said after the commissioners’ regular meeting ended. The supplemental armor is the same as that worn by N.C. Highway Patrol troopers.
The purchase was prompted by a violent standoff on Oct. 1 in Parkton during which a trooper was shot, Harris said.
“If he hadn’t of had it on, he may have been hurt real bad,” Harris said.
Kevin Anthony Battaglia, 33, was shot to death by law enforcement officers after an hours-long standoff with them at his home on Acadiana Drive. It started when Battaglia fired at law enforcement officers and escalated when he struck a Highway Patrol trooper. The trooper’s bullet-resistant vest protected him from serious injury.
“I hope we never have to use them,” Sheriff Kenneth Sealey said Monday. “But, it’s best to have them just in case.”
The commissioners approved an agreement with state government that sets in motion the eventual distribution of $46 million in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery Grant money. The agreement allows state government to receive and approve applications for portions of the money. It will leave county government in charge of giving the money to approved applicants.
The agreement’s effective date is Dec. 1, and it expires Dec. 1, 2023. The final reimbursement date is set in the agreement as Aug. 7, 2023.
The commissioners announced during a short ceremony that a park in Red Springs will be named Noah Woods Community Park. The park is located on Graham Street near Tom Cope Park.
Woods, a former educator who has been on the Board of Commissioners for 27 years, coached youth sports in Red Springs for more than 40 years, Commissioner Raymond Cummings said during the ceremony.
“He touched a lot of young people’s hearts,” Cummings said.
“I sincerely hope the people of Robeson County realize how much I appreciate them allowing me to serve them,” Woods said. “I hope I have inspired some of the young people in our county to pursue a life of service.”
An emotional Woods went on to say, “It has been my honor to serve you.”
His remarks were received with a standing ovation.
“We do appreciate what you have done over the years,” board Chairman Tom Taylor said.
The commissioners approved pursuing Economic Development grants to help fund expansion at two industries in Robeson County and approved incentives packages.
One was for Project Core 2018. County Economic Development Director Greg Cummings told commissioners the company, which does not want to be named yet, is making a $17.925 million investment and will retain 877 jobs with a starting salary of $12.50, with benefits.
The incentive is that over a three-year period, 50 percent of the property taxes paid will be reimbursed to the company if job retention numbers are maintained and the company stays in the county for at least four years, Cummings said after the meeting.
Project HAC means an investment of $5 million by a company that also wishes to stay unnamed for now, and will create 10 jobs in phase one of the expansion, Cummings said. The starting hourly wage for these jobs will be $12.50, with benefits.
The incentive from county government is 75 percent of the annual property taxes will be reimbursed over four years as long as the job creation numbers are met and the company stays in the county for at least four years, Cummings said. The tax incentive was offered in a bid to prevent the expansion project from going to a site in Wisconsin.
The commissioners also approved spending $5,500 to have the county’s website monitored in order to ensure it stays in compliance with the American With Disabilities Act.
“The site is in compliance,” said Emily Jones, county Public Information officer.
The monitoring is to alert the county if something needs to be updated to bring it into compliance as elements of the ADA change or if a change is made to the site that is not in compliance, said Wendy Sampson, Parks & Recreation director.
A formula for re-evaluating property values around the county was approved by the commissioners. The re-evaluation, which will determine what residents pay in property taxes, will be completed in 2018.
A series of budget adjustments were approved by the commissioners.
One adjustment reflected the appropriation of $1 million for Prestage Rocco well treatment. Others were for the appropriation of $101,850 for the Project RV Ventura Grant, $1,250 to Emergency Medical Services, $400 for the Economic Development Industrial Appreciation Banquet, and $1,000 for office supplies at Department of Social Services. And one adjustment was to reallocate $30,000 to county Fleet Operations to pay for an ambulance remount.
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