PEMBROKE — The Lumbee Tribal Council unanimously approved reappointing Freda Porter as tribal administrator, although questions about her final contract offer remained unanswered.
The vote came after a lengthy debate, which included a vote to go into closed session, of an amended resolution regarding Chairman Harvey Godwin Jr.’s recommendation to reappoint Porter.
Porter’s contract expired on Thursday, and the council’s final decision was to extend the contract for 60 days to allow time for a long-term offer to be approved.
The original resolution was presented by Reginald Oxendine Jr. and called for the council to give initial approval to Godwin’s recommendation, although Porter’s status as tribal administrator would not be finalized until the council is presented with a contract offer to approve.
Some council members were hesitant to go forward with the offer because they were unsure about the exact length of the contract, especially with Godwin having to file for re-election later this year.
“This is unprecedented, to approve a person without seeing a contract,” Al Locklear said.
Others expressed concern about the less experienced members having to vote on the resolution.
“Some are new and may want more information,” James Hunt said.
A motion to send the resolution back to the Constitution and Ordinance Committee failed on 10-10 vote. Sharon Hunt, who was granted an excused absence because of illness, was the only council member not in attendance.
The 60-day contract extension begins today.
Council members also unanimously approved seven resolutions for grants from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs. Each grant is valued at $20,000 and would benefit the Lumbee Tribe Boys and Girls Club.
In another financial matter, council members approved requesting money from a temporary funding source that has not been identified. The requested $1,735.38 will be used to send volunteers to be trained to work with the tribe’s Veteran Services Office.
A request from the Health and Human Services Committee to allow Marshirl Locklear, a doctoral candidate at Brenau University in Georgia, to conduct research involving members of the tribe was approved.
The research will be used in Locklear’s dissertation titled “Assessment of Perceived Barriers to Implementing Lifestyle Modifications in the Management of Prediabetes or Type 2 Diabetes in Individuals of the Lumbee Tribe.”
Locklear will involve people of all races in the research, and data gathered from members of the Lumbee Tribe will be compared and contrasted with individuals from other backgrounds. She hopes the research will be beneficial to doctors in the region.
In the public comment portion of the meeting, Oxendine asked his fellow council members to consider taking steps to improve Deep Branch Road, the site of a car crash in which a Pembroke Middle School student and her mother died on Monday. Oxendine said the road is too narrow, and its proximity to important locations such as Purnell Swett High School increases the necessity of the improvements.
The council also heard a request to release reports from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in which two sites in Rowland are labeled as wetlands, and therefore are unsuitable for the tribe to build on.