12/26/07 — Duplin commissioners keep senior vans running

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Duplin commissioners keep senior vans running

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on December 26, 2007 2:03 PM

FAISON -- Meeting in Faison last week as part of their quarterly efforts to get out into the various communities, the Duplin County Board of Commissioners took up an issue that they expect to hear again after the first of the year.

Faced with high fuel prices, county transportation and services on aging director Steve Moore was forced to come before the commissioners requesting more funding to keep the rural routes running.

Originally asking for $60,000 to get through the end of the fiscal year, the commission -- on the advice of County Manager Mike Aldridge -- agreed to $20,000 to help him get through December and into January.

"Steve is a little bit ahead of the other departments," Aldridge said. "They're going to be in the same boat, too."

So his proposal, he explained, is for the board to wait until after the first of the year and then take up everybody at once.

"Other ones are going to have to be dealt with as well," he said. "At the very best we'll be able to take care of it for the rest of the fiscal year."

The vote to fund Moore's department was 5-1, with Commissioner David Fussell dissenting because of his concern that county transportation, which struggles to generate its own consistent revenue stream, is an unnecessary expenditure.

In other action, the commissioners also agreed to a plan for the Goshen Swamp Water Management Project, pending the availability of state funding.

In accordance with an earlier request by the commission, West drew up a proposal to try to restore the proper water flow and to improve water management along approximately 25.3 miles of Goshen Swamp from the Northeast Cape Fear River to Emmett Jackson Road.

The problem, he explained, is that that area has become obstructed with fallen trees, beaver dams and sediment buildup, resulting in poor stream flow and drowned timber. The project would include the trapping and removal of beavers, the removal of beaver dams, the removal of storm and wood debris. Because of U.S. Army Corps of Engineer and N.C. Division of Water Quality regulations, however, there likely will not be any sediment removal projects.

The project, which will affect nearly 100,000 acres of drainage area, is estimated to cost the county approximately $136,000. Officials are hoping for a state input of about $264,500.

And finally, the commission put a much-debated issue to rest and voted 4-2 to hang the portraits of District Court judges in the county's large courtroom. The courtroom is considered by some to be the Superior Court, while others simply see it as the "big" courtroom. Regardless, though, its back wall is where Superior Court judges' portraits have traditionally been hung.

The issue came up when the county prepared to hang the portraits of two District Court judges, Stephen Williamson and Kenneth Turner. The original plan was to hang them in the "small" courtroom, but because of remodeling efforts, the commissioners allowed them to be temporarily placed on the front of the big courtroom's balcony until the remodeling was done.