County balks at $25K for park

LUMBERTON — An effort on Monday to contribute $25,000 to Lumberton’s Raymond Pennington Athletic Complex got bogged down and died during the Robeson County Board of Commissioners meeting.

Commissioner Jerry Stephens, whose district includes part of Lumberton, made the motion, saying it is “the right thing to do” to support the park, which was the host site recently of the Dixie Youth World Series. He talked about the economic effect it had for the county.

“I just want to put this out for consideration,” Stephens said. “The World Series brought in a lot of money to this county.”

Commissioner Tom Taylor noted the high number of young people who participate in recreation programs in Lumberton and other county municipalities.

“We need to look at the Lumberton recreation program,” Taylor said. “They are going to bid for the World Series again.”

As the conversation continued, the motion floundered. Chairman Raymond Cummings noted that Pembroke was the host of the Dixie Youth World Series several years ago, and the county did not contribute to its ballpark.

“What we do for one, shouldn’t we do for all?” Cummings said.

Taylor agreed that there were many baseball fields in the county that need financial support.

“We’ve got to help all of them out,” he said.

Commissioner Lance Herndon said the county is “struggling to maintain the parks we are supposed to maintain.”

Commissioner Roger Oxendine said there is a ballpark in his district that also needs help. He said commissioners have discretionary funds available for recreation in their districts.

Cummings tasked County Manager Ricky Harris with taking an inventory of the number, location and needs at all county parks.

Stephens offered to rescind his motion, and the matter died, except for Commissioner David Edge’s final words.

“There are so many things we do for specific areas of this county,” Edge said. “It’s sad that every time something like this comes up we have to talk about the needs all over the county.”

In other action, County Manager Ricky Harris announced that Tax Administrator Cindy Lowry was leaving the position at the end of the month, saying she had rejected a contract extension. The county had offered Lowry, who has worked under two-year contracts, the position through November, but she did not agree.

Kellie Blue will become interim county tax administrator effective in September.

In a second personnel matter, Assistant County Attorney Michael McDonald returned for Monday’s commissioners meeting after an extended illness.

“I feel good,” McDonald said. “I am taking it one day at a time.”

Gary Locklear continued his role as interim county attorney. He was named interim at the county’s first meeting in July.

In other action, the commissioners, acting as the board of directors for the Robeson County Housing Authority, raised two spending limits for purchases.

Micro purchases up to $3,000 and small purchases up to $50,000 can be made without going through a formal bid process. The amounts are compatible with federal Housing and Urban Development guidelines, according to Housing Authority Director Niakeya Jones.

The commissioners also approved a three-year extension of an information technology service contract the county has with the Housing Authority and approved a contract for pest control with Gregory Pest Control Company.

Cindy Lowry Lowry
Chairman Raymond Cummings, right, and Vice Chairman Berlester Campbell confer during Monday’s meeting of the Robeson County Board of Commissioners. Raymond Cummings, right, and Vice Chairman Berlester Campbell confer during Monday’s meeting of the Robeson County Board of Commissioners.
Lowry leaving as county tax administrator

Scott Bigelow

Staff writer

Scott Bigelow can be reached at 910-644-4497 or