ROWLAND — The Rowland Board of Commissioners discussed on Tuesday the possible effects of approaching of Hurricane Florence and the resources available to respond to the damages the storm might cause.
“We are prepared to the best of our ability,” said Mayor Pro-tem Marvin Shooter, who led the meeting.
Mayor Michelle Shooter and Commissioner Paul Hunt were not present.
Rowland police Capt. LaSevenn Richardson reassured the town that the department will be a steady presence throughout the storm. Richardson spoke on behalf Chief John Reaves, who was attending an emergency personnel meeting in Lumberton.
“Our staff is on standby to assist before, during and after,” Richardson said. “The police department is here to assist.”
Residents expressed worry about whether or not the town will be present to assist the handicapped and elderly living in more secluded areas.
“We’re going to be out knocking on doors even in the rain,” Richardson said.
Jesse Watson, Public Works Department supervisor, said the town is equipped with chainsaws and backhoes to remove fallen limbs and assist in rescue efforts if necessary. The water plant has a generator on standby.
“That’s something we never had in the past,” Watson said.
The commissioners also spoke about the need to have a shelter at South Robeson High School. Commissioner Jean Love said that neither of the schools chosen as shelter sites are close enough to Rowland. The closest locations are Purnell Swett High and Fairmont Middle schools, which are each about 13 miles from Rowland. Love said tensions between Fairmont and Rowland youth could lead to potential problems at the shelters.
“We’ve always had one (at South Robeson High School) in the past,” Shooter said.
Town Clerk David Townsend said he spoke with Emergency Management officials who said that as days go by, the county may announce more shelters if needed.
Anyone elderly and living alone or with disabilities is asked to call the Police Department at 910-422-3311 for emergencies. The number will transfer to the officer on duty.
In other business, the commissioners:
— Approved a proclamation of recognition for former Mayor Harris McCall, who died recently. McCall served on the board from 2000 to 2007. McCall played a role in recruiting Family Dollar and Dollar General to the town. He also was a leader in renovating the Rowland Library and creating the Rowland Senior Center, also known as the Rowland Nutrition Site.
— Tabled the hiring of a resource officer for Southside-Ashpole Elementary School. The Innovative School District submitted an application for a grant for the officer. The state will provide $50,000, but the grant requires the town to chip in $16,666.
— Approved a bid of $3,100 for a backhoe.
Tomeka Sinclair can be reached at [email protected] or 910-416-5865.