LUMBERTON — The Robeson County Board of Commissioners on Monday suspended Housing Authority Director Ronald Oxendine with pay until completion of an investigation into the Housing Authority’s procurement policies and procedures is complete. Only Commissioner Hubert Sealey voted against the suspension.
A local investigation was launched after concerns were raised by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during a review of the Robeson County Housing Authority’s procurement policies and procedures. According to a letter from HUD to Noah Woods, chairman of the board, the procurement assessment began in January as a result of a Hotline complaint.
The complaint alleges that Oxendine has used Housing Authority money to pay for work at his home; two contractors, Marshal Oxendine and Oral Dial, worked on Oxendine’s home while also contracting with the Housing Authority and receiving contracts with no competition; and that Oxendine tried to get free services at his home from a landscaper, Dorsey Landscape, which was under contract with the Housing Authority. When the contractor did not comply, his contract with the county authority was terminated.
According to HUD, its Greensboro field office initiated a “procurement review” of the Robeson County Housing Authority on Jan. 10. This review included an on-site visit on June 4. Findings were provided to the authority on June 30 and it has 30 days to provide HUD with a response.
County Attorney Patrick Pait, who is leading the local investigation, said Monday that the investigation is under way, but there is no time frame for its completion. He said, however, that the county will have a response to HUD within 30 days.
Oxendine has been on vacation. Pait said the executive director will now be on “investigatory suspension” until the investigation is completed.
The Robeson County Housing Authority is responsible for 110 units at Morgan Britt Park in Lumberton; 40 units at Benton Court in Rowland; 100 units at Westgate Terrace in Red Springs; and 40 units at McColl Page Plaza in St. Pauls.
In other business, the commissioners have agreed to have a roofing manufacturing company to examine the roof of the county jail and estimate how much it will cost to have the roof repaired. They also authorized that the bidding process on the work, which has been needed for more than two years, move forward.
Leroy Scott, the county’s Public Buildings director, said the cost of a new roof for the 25-year-old building could exceed $900,000.
“It’s been repaired and repaired,” Sheriff Kenneth Sealey. “We can’t put a Band-Aid on it anymore. It has to be replaced.”
Sealey said that inmates had to be put into a holding cell because of water penetrating their cells during a recent rain.
Both Sheriff Sealey and Scott said that if the roof is not soon replaced, the state will mandate that it be done.
The commissioners on Monday also:
— Heard a report on the Beaver Management Assistance Program conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
According to Bo Benton, the wildlife specialist who heads up the program in Robeson County, it has been conducted in Robeson County for about 20 years and saved the county money in beaver-related damage to timber, crops, and roadways and drainage structures.
The commissioners praised the results of the program, but requested that figures related to beaver damage and savings to the county be broken down by individual districts.
— Were updated by Darlene Jacobs, executive director of the Robeson County Church and Community Center, and Scott about the need for repairs or a new roof for the center. Jacobs, who said her organization does not have money to pay for a new roof, has asked the county for some financial assistance. She said that she has received estimates for a new roof ranging from $70,000 to $90,000.
— Appointed Commissioner Roger Oxendine to serve a the county’s representative on the Southeastern Partnership Regional Economic Development board.