Planetarium director gives county a gaze

By: T.C. Hunter - Managing editor

LUMBERTON — The director of the planetarium for the Public Schools of Robeson County on Monday gave the county commissioners a gaze at what the system lost to Hurricane Matthew.

The commissioners took no action at the end of a lengthy presentation by Ken Brandt, who asked the commissioners for nothing during his presentation, which included lists, graphs and photographs projected onto a board chamber wall.

Brandt did at one point suggest that a planetarium be built at the same site the school district builds a new school or central office building or finds one. The planetarium off Caton Road was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew and the floodwaters the storm generated in October 2016. Planetarium activities, such as a program scheduled for April 21, have taken place in an inflatable planetarium located at the Robeson County Partnership for Children on Second Street in Lumberton.

Commissioner Roger Oxendine asked Brandt if he would be in favor of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke and the Public Schools of Robeson County jointly building and operating a much larger planetarium.

“If the school children can get into it for free, I’m all for it,” Brandt said.

But he would want it located in the center of the county so public school students from all over the county could get to it as easily and quickly as possible, Brandt said.

The commissioners also took no action on a request for $800 from Sandy Jacobs, associate director for Service-Learning at UNCP’s Office for Community & Civic Engagement. The money would help support a Sports Day Camp scheduled for March 29 at UNCP’s Lumbee Field. The camp offers students in self-contained classes in public schools a chance take part in various sports with students of all levels of ability.

The commissioners did hear four requests for conditional-use permits, and postponed taking action on three of them until May.

The approved permit allows Leonel Flores to establish a used-car dealership on .69 acres of land on Alamac Road in Britts Township. Conditions for approval of the permit request include the property be fenced in on three sides and a vegetative buffer be established across the front of the property, and no more than three cars be on the property at one time, excluding Flores’ personal vehicles.

In other business, the commissioners:

— Approved the transfer of $31,898 within the county Board of Elections budget so six tabulators can be bought.

— Approved the transfer of $14,000 within the county Emergency Medical Service budget to help the department finish the budget year in the face of rising fuel prices.

— Approved allowing the county Department of Social Services to move $70,000 around with the department’s budget so DSS can make expense adjustments.

— Approved appropriating $240,000 from the county’s fund balance for the Fleet Operations Center so the center can pay for repairs and maintenance of county vehicles.

— Approved a line-item transfer of $12,000 within the county EMS budget to complete payment of invoices until the budget year can be closed out on June 30.

— Approved giving S.J. Hatcher Trucking a 2008 Kraftsman trailer, valued at $3,000, as partial payment of a $7,500 bill for services rendered.

— Approved a lease agreement in which the county will rent for $1 a year for 10 years a 5.4-acre tract of land near Fairmont from the The Fairmont Civitan Club and use the land for recreational purposes.

— Approved giving the Fairmont Police Department five surplus computers.

— Approved a resolution honoring the Rev. Dr. Michael Cummings for his “many contributions to Robeson County and the other areas of the world that his ministry has touched.”

The commissioners spent just more than two hours in closed session discussing legal and personnel matters, but took now action on their return.

T.C. Hunter

Managing editor

Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974 or via email at [email protected]

Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974 or via email at [email protected]