LUMBERTON — A standoff among Robeson County commissioners on an appointment to the county’s Department of Social Services board ended Monday with Commissioner Roger Oxendine being appointed to replace Raymond Cummings.
Cummings spoke softly as he nominated Oxendine to replace him on the board he has served on for 18 years and chaired for more than a decade.
“I have enjoyed serving on the board,” Cummings said. “But I think a good colleague of mine can do the job … I nominate Roger Oxendine.”
The commissioners with no comment voted 7 to 1 to accept Cummings’ nomination and moved on with other county business. David Edge cast the lone vote against the appointment.
“I am honored to have been appointed, but I would have loved to have seen Raymond continue to serve,” Oxendine said after the meeting. “He has done a great job.”
Monday’s vote was the third that the commissioners had taken in an attempt to make the DSS appointment. Before the meeting began, some members of the public in attendance were making bets on the outcome of the vote.
At two previous meetings the commissioners had failed on 4 to 4 votes to reappoint Cummings to another three-year board term or name someone to replace him. Cummings’ term expired June 30, but was allowed to continue to serve until he was either reappointed or replace.
At a June 6 meeting, after defeating a motion to appoint Commissioner Noah Woods to the DSS board, Commissioners Oxendine, Berlester Campbell, Jerry Stephens and Cummings voted for Cummings to be reappointed with Woods, Lance Herndon, Tom Taylor and Edge voting against.
On June 20, after a motion to appoint Edge to the DSS board failed, the commissioners again tied 4 to 4 on a motion to reappoint Cummings. This time, Stephens voted against the appointment and Woods voted in favor.
Those opposing Cummings’ reappointment to the DSS board have given no reason publicly as to why they moved to oust Cummings from the board. As chairman of the board, Cummings was paid $150 for each meeting the board held.
Cummings, however, has been criticized by many, including DSS employees, for being too involved in daily DSS operations, especially the hiring of department employees. Some called for him to step down from the board, saying he has a conflict of interest as a result of his son’s recent marriage to a DSS social worker.
Cummings was re-elected last month by a vote of 3 to 2 to serve another one-year term as DSS board chairman. The board will now have to elect a new chairman.
In other business, the commissioners on Monday:
— Approved acceptance of the Home and Community Block Grant for the fiscal year 2016-17. The total grant is for about $1.16 million and calls for a $116,592 match from the county.
The grant pays for services provided by the Legal Aid of North Carolina Inc.; Lumber River Council of Governments; Interim Healthcare of Eastern Carolinas Inc.; and the Southeast Area Transit System.
— Approved a contract with Southeastern Regional Medical Center Behavioral Health Services, and a contract with Theresa Bullard Jacobs for health services provided at the county jail.
— Recognized Woods for being honored recently by the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners for his years of service.
— Heard a request from Amy Barnes that consideration be given to forming a volunteer “Friends of Robeson County Animal Shelter” organization. Barnes said that 54 counties statewide already have such organizations that use volunteers to work with animals that are housed at local county shelters.
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.