LUMBERTON — Adults in Robeson County will be able to obtain affordable health care when the Robeson County Health Department opens an adult health clinic on Friday.
Bill Smith, the Health Department’s director, told county commissioners on Wednesday that the clinic is being funded by a $150,000 state grant to be awarded to the Health Department over each of the next two or three years.
Smith was one of 12 county department heads who updated the commissioners on programs they supervise during the first day of the commissioners’ annual three-day retreat, which is being held at the county’s Emergency Operations Center on Legend Road.
The retreat continues this morning at 8:45 with presentations by more county department heads. There was no indication on Wednesday that the commissioners will address the issue of their pay and benefits.
Although he did not ask the commissioners to increase the county’s current $2.2 million contribution to his department’s budget, Smith reminded board members that 12 years ago the county provided $2.9 million toward the Health Department’s budget.
Smith said that his department is utilizing available revenue to make improvements to the Health Department building that was built in the 1970s, including replacing floor tiles, refurbishing break areas, repairing clinic areas and fencing in an area to secure vehicles.
During the day-long session, the commissioners also heard reports and program updates from the following:
— Steve Edge, the county’s Solid Waste director, told the commissioners that the county landfill in St. Pauls now has a life expectancy of 60 years. He said that the methane gas-to-energy project at the landfill has in the past year generated 8.2 million kilo watts of electricity, enough to provide power for 932 households.
According to Edge, the sale of electricity this year was about $432,286, sale of carbon credits was about $187,000, and the sale of renewable energy credits was about $103,713.
Edge said there are 16 collection sites operating in Robeson County, with an additional site scheduled to open on Beaver Dam Road. Another site just east of Lumberton is currently under construction and slated to open Feb. 22. Attempts to negotiate purchase of property for two other sites — one in District 3 and the other in District 2 or District 7 — are now under way, he said.
Edge also said the county’s recycling rate has been increasing.
“Over 10,000 tons of recyclables will be removed from the landfill each year once our recycling program is fully operational,” Edge said.
— Greg Bounds, director of the county’s Emergency Medical Services, told commissioners that the county is saving money by operating five Ford gasoline ambulances and using the county’s six diesel-powered ambulances on a limited basis.
Bounds said that regular gasoline is less expensive than diesel.
— Leroy Scott, director of public buildings, told the commissioners that his department did the construction for the One-Stop Shop located at the former Department of Social Services complex.
Scott also said that his department, which has 21 employees and maintains about 750,000 square feet of building space, has completed the heating and air conditioning replacement project at the Robeson County Detention Center.
— Al Grimsley, the county’s Public Works director, updated the commissioners on several ongoing projects, including mapping of the county’s water system, which is about 25 percent complete. He also said that the establishment of water rates for out-of-county customers is under way.
— Nicole Brooks, who oversees the Water Department, said that the number of customers using the county water system has almost reached 25,000.
— Jeff Britt, who oversees the county’s Inspections Department, requested that his department be provided an additional employee to work as support for both office and field staff. Britt also asked that the commissioners consider adopting regulations that would give his department the authority to act more “proactively” in regards to substandard housing complaints filed by a tenant against his landlord.
— Michelle Frizzell, who heads the county’s Planning and Zoning departments, told the commissioners that the One-Stop Shop not only meets the needs of clients by allowing them to take care of all inspection, planning and environmental health matters at one location, but is a morale booster to staff.
— Terry Buchanan, who heads the county’s Information Technology Department, provided the commissioners with an update of numerous improvements that have been made at county facilities over the past year. He also gave the commissioners a view of a newly designed county website that he said should be operating within the next 30 days.
— Shelton Hill, the county’s safety director, told the commissioners that county employees have embraced and participated during the past year in in-house safety training classes for such things as first aid, CPR and defensive driving.
“Defensive driving was our priority session this year,” Hill said. “Over 260 employees were certified in defensive driving as part of the training sessions.”
— Becky Morrow, director of the county’s Department of Social Services, called the past year at DSS “one of the hardest years on the director and staff.”
Morrow said the year has resulted in increased referrals to many of her department’s programs, including Child Welfare.
“There’s more children (267) in foster care than there ever has been,” she said. “Last month 30 children were put in foster
Morrow also pointed to a year that saw the local DSS convert Food and Nutrition case files to a new state system while trying to avoid a delay in benefits for food stamp recipients.
— David Powell, director of Robeson County’s Pre-Trial Services, presented the commissioners a report on how the Pre-trial Release Program is saving the county money.
According to the report, the program has saved the county a total of about $2.3 million during the period from July 1, 2012, to Jan. 30, 2013.
The program, which began in 2004, targets non-violent defendants, mainly those who are not paying their child support.
The goal of the program is to reduce the jail population by sending some eligible inmates awaiting trial home to be monitored with an ankle bracelet.