LUMBERTON — Fire protection will soon be available to residents in the Gaddy’s community of Robeson County.
The Robeson County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday passed a resolution to lease three acres of county property at the corner of Gerald and Ward Store roads to the White House Volunteer Fire Department. The land is valued at less than $30,000 based on a Robeson County tax appraisal. The lease is for $1 a year for 90 years, with an option for 90 more.
Commissioner Hubert Sealey told the commissioners the White House Fire Department has agreed to put up a building and keep fire trucks on site. The resolution also calls for a voter referendum to be held on a fire tax proposal for those residing in the new area to receive fire protection.
According to County Manager Ricky Harris, the requested fire district tax would be 10 cents.
The commissioners on Tuesday also agreed to provide $5,000 for the food bank operated by the local Department of Social Services and $5,000 for food vouchers to assist those who are in emergency need of food.
The donations were made at the request of Social Services Director Becky Morrow, who in a letter to the board said that previous financial assistance to the food bank and voucher program has “been a huge help for our citizens.”
Morrow said that the vouchers are being issued to families whose food stamp benefits are being held up for at least two months in the transfer of cases to NC FAST, the state’s new computer system for administering the food stamp program. The system has been plagued with glitches.
“We continue to have an increase of cases stuck in the system,” Morrow said. “We have exhausted our funds and the food pantry is limited.”
In other business:
— State Rep. Garland Pierce presented Brenda Fairley-Ferebee of Maxton with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is considered the state’s highest civilian award.
Fairley Ferebee has been a member of the Public Schools of Robeson County Board of Education for 18 years and a Robeson County employee for 20 years, most recently serving as the county’s interim Planning and Zoning administrator.
She is also the interim pastor of the Trust in Jesus Ministry in Dobin Heights, and is a designated apostle for the International Ministry Fellowship Court of London.
— Rhoda Emanuel, housing specialist for Eastpointe, updated the commissioners on the upcoming Point in Time Count, an annual event held across the country during which counties attempt to count their homeless populations to determine what services are needed.
The number of homeless recorded this day are forwarded to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“The homeless are an invisible population,” Emanuel said. “They are undocumented but they do use services … It is important that these people be counted. This is the first step of getting any programs to serve the homeless into Robeson County.”
This year’s event includes two temporary shelters — one at the Boys and Girls Club on Singletary Church Road in Lumberton and one at the Lumbee Tribe’s Pembroke Boys and Girls Club on N.C. 711 — to be open from 6 p.m. on Jan. 29 to 7 a.m. on Jan. 30. The shelters will be manned by volunteers and four vans will be provided to transport individuals to the shelters.
During the hours the shelters are open, homeless people will have a place to stay the night, take a shower, get a hot meal, and receive a hygiene kit to keep. Services such as flu shots and HIV testing will be available, as well as information provided about services available to the homeless and veterans.
— Katherine Floyd, animal cruelty investigator for the Robeson County sheriff’s Office, told the commissioners that in the past year she has answered 687 calls involving animal cruelty. Of cases that have gone to court, she said, there has been a “100 percent indictment rate.”