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Lavin: Pay CAC members a stipend

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By Paul Nielsen
Correspondent

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Finding citizens to serve on a board that monitors long-term care facilities in Pasquotank County has become so difficult that county commissioners agreed Monday to explore the possibility of paying its members some sort of stipend as an incentive.

There are currently four vacancies on the Community Advisory Committee, the panel charged with upholding the intent of the state’s Resident Bill of Rights. CAC members, who must be county residents, are required to conduct both official and friendly visits to long-term care facilities across the county as well as attend meetings.

Commissioner Sean Lavin, who previously served on the CAC, said Monday the position is “very time consuming.’’ Visiting half the facilities in the county takes almost a whole day, he said.

“Can we make it a little more bearable to serve on that committee?” Lavin asked fellow commissioners. “It is a huge investment of time and you are putting up with people who do not necessarily want you there walking through their facility. But it is important work. We have to get those guys back to where they can operate.”

The board asked County Manager Sparty Hammett to look into the feasibility of paying a stipend to CAC members.

“It’s a good idea if we can do it,” said Board of Commissioners Chairman Jeff Dixon.

Lavin also told commissioners that after touring and reviewing plans for the new senior center facility at the former Daily Advance building he discovered those plans don't include a walkway between parking lots and the building because grant money that would have funded the walkway wasn't secured.

“I am going to be really disappointed if that slips off and falls,” Lavin said, referring to the walkway. “I know that was in response to the public outcry and concern that there was going to be safe walking and parking access for folks who are going to use the center. I’ll be interested in seeing how that hopefully recovers.”

Also at Monday's meeting, Commissioner Lloyd Griffin praised county employees for their work during Hurricane Dorian, which passed over the region Sept. 5-6. Griffin lauded the work the county did distributing important information prior, during and after Hurricane Dorian on different county social media accounts as well as other media outlets. He also praised the work of county employees in the aftermath of the storm.

“We were prepared, and we let the public know what was going on,” Griffin said. “The staff was answering questions (on social media), and I heard a lot of positive things.”

Commissioners were also introduced to new North Carolina Forest Service Ranger Jared Tardiff, who is assigned to the county. Tardiff gave the board a review for the county from the just completed fiscal year, which included a below-average 19 reportable wildfires that burned 13 acres.

In an interview prior to Monday's meeting, Hammett said that one of the open positions at Pasquotank-Camden Emergency Medical Services has been filled and that EMS is actively looking to fill three more of the open spots. Several EMS employees resigned earlier this month after Hammett started an investigation into what he earlier described as a “poor work environment” within the agency.

Jamar Whitaker has returned to EMS as a training captain after previously serving with the agency. EMS is still looking to fill two captain positions and the position of assistant director of the agency.

“Just a good, solid employee,” Hammett said of Whitaker. “We are real excited to have him back with us.”

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