12/03/12 — Justice set to swear in new board

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Justice set to swear in new board

By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 3, 2012 1:46 PM

North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby Tuesday morning will deliver the oath of office to the five Republicans elected Nov. 6 to the Wayne County Board of Commissioners.

Democrat John Bell was sworn in this morning, as prescribed by state law, by Wayne County Superior Court Judge Arnold Jones. Democratic Commissioner J.D. Evans, who is undergoing rehabilitation at the Brian Center following a recent surgery, was sworn in today as well.

Commissioners will hold their agenda briefing at 8 a.m. Tuesday in their meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex. Tuesday's ceremony, including election of a chairman and vice chairman, will begin at 9 a.m. in Superior Courtroom 1. It will be followed by a reception.

The board session will then resume in the meeting room to complete a brief agenda that includes the swearing-in ceremony for Lois J. Mooring as register of deeds, and selection of a commission delegate for the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners Legislative Goals conference.

The board also will take up a request by Ronnie Matthews to amend the county's Light Industry zone to allow cemeteries as a permitted use. Matthews wants to establish a private cemetery at 423 Millers Chapel Road.

Commissioners took no action following last month's public hearing on the request after petitions, signed by nearly 250 people, against the proposal, were presented to the board. No one spoke in favor of the request.

Approval has been recommended by the Wayne County Planning Board with a stipulation that chapels should not be allowed in the zone if the location falls within the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Accident Potential Zone II or high noise areas above 80 decibels.

The public comment portion of the meeting will start at 10 a.m.

A work session also is on the agenda, but no topic is listed. Bell said he did not know what the work session would be about.

Bell said that he and Evans had scheduled their own swearing-in since they had not been told about the Tuesday plans.

"I will follow the statutes," Bell said.

According to state law, newly elected county officials take their oath of office on the first Monday in December following each general election.

At the board's Nov. 20 session, County Attorney Borden Parker said in his opinion that a majority vote by the board was all that was needed to make the change. Commissioners then voted 5-0 to change the meeting for the swearing-in and the organization of the board to 9 a.m. Tuesday.

However, Frayda Bluestein, an associate dean and professor of public law and government at the N.C. School of Government, said she thought the board would be bound to follow the state law.

The courtroom does not have the audio or video equipment necessary to record the historic event -- it will be the first time since Reconstruction that Republicans have controlled the board.

The county has hired a contractor to do the recording at a cost of approximately $200.