12/11/10 — New commissioner chairman chosen in Duplin

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New commissioner chairman chosen in Duplin

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on December 11, 2010 11:20 PM

KENANSVILLE -- The Duplin County Board of Commissioners swore in a new board member Monday and selected a new chairperson and vice chairperson.

Commissioner Tim Smith of District 2 was sworn in to office, replacing former commission chairman Cary Turner. Smith thanked his friends, family and the people who worked on his election campaign.

The board members then voted in favor of selecting Commissioner Frances Parks as chairperson of the commission, and then selected Commissioner Zettie Williams as vice chairperson. Ms. Parks served as vice chair over the last year, after Ms. Williams declined to serve in the position at that time.

On the agenda for the first meeting with the new board was the highway exit 373 exchange sewer project. The project, largely funded by grant and loan funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's rural development division, proposes bringing sewer service to the estimated 25 residents living along the nearby road. The project will also allow for sewer service to any company that decides to locate along the exit, McDavid Associates representative Van Lewis said.

The roughly $2.2 million project would require a $100,000 local contribution, in addition to the county taking on a $646,600 loan. The debt service payment on the loan would be about $30,000 a year for 38 years, officials reported.

The minimum USDA requirement may not be met in this case, as there are fewer than the proscribed 33 users in the area, Lewis said. He will seek further advice on the issue from the USDA.

The county will likely end up subsidizing the cost of the local contribution, at least in the beginning, because that number of users would not be enough to pay sewer bills on a level that would pay off the local contribution, he said.

The system must provide service to the residential users as part of the agreement to receive the grant funding, he added.

The commissioners voted unanimously to allow the staff to proceed with the project planning.

The board also heard an update from Emergency Services Director Rob McDuffie, who replaced former director Brian Pearce as first an interim, then as director of the county's emergency responder office. The commissioners voted 5-1 approving McDuffie's request to fill several empty positions in the department, including one in the communications center. Commissioner David Fussell dissented, citing the county hiring freeze.

The board members also voted to extend for six months Duplin Events Center Director Stephen Williamson's contract with the county while the committee searches for a new director to fill the position. His contract was due to expire Dec. 31. Commissioner Fussell dissented on the vote, citing the cost of running the center and continued economic uncertainty.

The commissioners additionally approved unanimously to repair the county airport building roof at a cost of about $10,435.