LUMBERTON — Retired Superior Court Judge Gary Locklear was hired Monday as interim county attorney by the Robeson County Board of Commissioners.
The commissioners also gave County Manager Ricky Harris the green light to advertise for a full-time attorney. County Attorney Patrick Pait died June 3 in a traffic accident, and Assistant County Attorney Michael McDonald remains hospitalized with an undisclosed health issue.
Locklear, who retired in 2009 as a Robeson County Superior Court judge and served as chief District Court judge before that, was already at work Monday and participated in the resolution of several issues before the board.
“I’m glad to help where I can,” Locklear said after the meeting.
Locklear returned to private practice after retiring from the bench. He also represents the town of Pembroke as its part-time attorney. The graduate of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law also served as chief supreme court judge for the Lumbee Tribe.
The terms of Locklear’s employment have not been finalized, but when he last served the county, Locklear was paid $600 per meeting and on an hourly basis as needed.
“We will negotiate at a later date,” Harris said. “He is a good addition.”
The interim county attorney will be put to work soon on a school bond referendum, according to Board of Commissioners Chairman Raymond Cummings. Assistant County Manager Kellie Blue said school and county representatives will meet after the July Fourth holiday.
“As soon as they are ready, we are ready,” Cummings said.
The schools had hoped to put as much as $250 million in construction funds on the Nov. 6 ballot. The county delayed meeting with the schools, making a November vote impossible.
In other action, the county approved a family cemetery on 12.77 acres owned by Lela Ruiz-Rosario in the Whitehouse Township.
“I lost two sons in one month, and I could not afford to bury them anywhere else,” Ruiz-Rosario said.
She plans four plots, each measuring 20 by 20 feet.
A neighbor objected on the grounds that the conditional-use permit violated the 15-foot setback from his property. But County Planner Dixon Ivey said a survey in May showed the family cemetery met all county requirements.
In another zoning issue, the county approved rezoning four acres owned by Velton Hunt to Residential-Agricultural from Heavy Industrial. Ivey said several residences were part of a future industrial park in Back Swamp and should be removed.
Reach Scott Bigelow can be reached at 910-644-4497 or [email protected]