ROCKINGHAM – The Richmond County Commissioners meeting was held Tuesday in Courtroom C at the Justice Center. And, as usual, there were comments and questions regarding various types of events, projects, and situations throughout the county. What was not so “usual” was the range of focus that characterized the session.
A plea for greater awareness of diabetes and its debilitating effects was first on the agenda. Cassandra Smith asked for the commissioners’ support of an upcoming Diabetes Awareness Brunch at the Hamlet Community Center (155 Laurel Hill Street) on Saturday, November 4, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“We just need help to educate everyone about this disease and how bad it can be,” Smith said.
State Senator Tom McInnis was then called upon to provide comments from his perspective as one of the North Carolina General Assembly’s members. He voiced his support for the recent confirmation of the Enviva wood pellet facility on Highway 177 near the Dobbins Heights community, noting the tremendous potential such an industry could have for the county’s economy.
Dr. Dale McInnis, president of Richmond Community College (RCC), provided updates on various aspects of RCC’s programs and service to the county. He mentioned the ongoing partnership between RCC and Caldwell Community College in regard to truck driver training, highlighting the fact that the need for truckers in this area is second only to the demand for nurses (which is addressed by yet another highly successful RCC program).
The dual-enrollment of some high school students in RCC college courses was likewise cited as a highly progressive curriculum that has proven to be very good for all parties involved.
Interim County Manager Bryan Land was then asked to present reports on multiple projects that are rapidly developing throughout the county. Various administrative procedures (e.g., approval of personnel changes with the Health and Human Services Advisory Board; etc.) and projects (e.g., extension of the county water supply system to the Windblow community; widening of US Highway 1 North near the speedway; the Long Drive Alternative plan; airport apron extension and hangar relocation; etc.) were reviewed.
An extensive report was provided in regard to concerted efforts to stave off a seemingly prolific onslaught of littering along the highways of Richmond County. Land cited statistics of a relatively shocking nature, specifying that no less than 20 tons of debris and waste material were collected via joint efforts between the county, volunteers, and the Department of Transportation.
“Surprisingly, just on Mary Evans Road (which is less than 1000 feet long), we got 9 tons,” Land reported.
Economic Developer Martie Butler offered further insight regarding the Enviva facility, noting that the location of such was purely and solely a function of necessary elements that industries require.
The combination of abundant acreage (400 acres), relatively few homes in the immediate area (a map of the neighborhoods within a four-mile radius around the plant was shown), favorable juxtaposition with rail transportation (CSX) and highway access (both Highway 177 and US 1) constituted the package sufficient for Enviva to offer this opportunity to the county.
She also provided reports of the upgrading of the Sandhills AgInnovation Center on Crawford Road in Ellerbe and the East Rockingham Walking Trail (adjacent to the Senior Center), as well as an update on Direct Pack, yet another industry that has chosen Richmond County as a location for operations.
Before adjourning for a closed session, the 20 attendees in the audience were reminded that this is their county and that these seven commissioners represent them, so they should encourage friends and neighbors to involve themselves in community activities, including the monthly meeting of the Commission.
For a more detailed overview of the October 3rd agenda, go to: