05/27/07 — City Council decides to back WATCH

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City Council decides to back WATCH

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on May 27, 2007 2:01 AM



News-Argus Staff Writer

When officials from Wayne Action Teams for Community Health made their "final plea" for inclusion in Goldsboro's $46.5 million budget to members of the City Council Monday evening, they were unsure how their second $20,000 request would be received.

They must have made a convincing argument.

Council members decided Friday to approve an allocation of funds to the WATCH program at a budget work session held in the second-floor conference room at City Hall.

Councilman Chuck Allen said helping fund an organization that provides healthcare to an estimated one-third of the uninsured population in the county is the right thing to do -- after all, 14 of the 20 stops WATCH makes each month are inside the city limits.

"They gave a good presentation and I think we would be helping the poorest of the poor," he said. "It should be in (the budget)."

WATCH medical director Dr. Clark Gaither was on hand Monday and called the news "an outstanding example of caring and sharing that has kept our mobile unit rolling."

"My compliments and thanks to Mayor Al King and the City Council members for this much-needed contribution," he added. "We will put it to good use."

Executive director Sissy Lee-Elmore agreed.

"I'm so excited," she said. "I think it's a worthwhile cause for them to support and I think we're a bargain for their money."

Councilman Bob Waller said he was glad to back the allocation.

"This directly involves helping people that need it," he said.

But the $20,000 might mean more than the 5 percent it will represent in the program's $350,000 budget.

Mrs. Lee-Elmore said the decision could enhance the chances of receiving grant money -- that local funding typically does.

"We help the citizens go to work and pay taxes," she said. "I'm actually writing a grant right now and will include this."

King said he was pleased the council decided to back WATCH -- and more importantly, the people the program serves.

"I'm all for it," he said. "These people could not get medical help without it."