Community services

Chowan Commissioners Discuss Community Services Block Grant | Local

The Chowan County Council of Commissioners discussed a recent Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) application on January 3, the first council meeting of 2022.

With no members of the public in attendance – possibly due to winter weather conditions earlier today – the board debated the need for the block grant.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the grants provide support to people who are currently 100% or below the federal poverty line. Community action agencies will help individuals meet their employment, housing and crisis prevention needs.

The Economic Improvement Council is the community action agency for the 10 counties region of northeastern North Carolina, consisting of the counties of Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hyde, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Tyrrell and Washington.

Currently, three Chowan residents sit on the IEC board of directors: Glorious Elliott, Richard Bunch and lawyer Thomas Wood.

The EIC requested CSBGs on an annual basis. Chowan County Clerk Susanne Stallings noted that EIC has been applying for the grants for at least 10 years, dating back to 2012 on its records.

CSBG applications should be handed over to participating stakeholders in the region, including Boards of Commissioners, for review. Local councils do not have a say in the request.

No corresponding county funds are withdrawn for CSBGs; funds are still dispersed through the state after being received from the federal government.

The EIC requested $ 362,808 for the 10-county area. This application period runs from July 1 to June 30, 2023, alongside the agency’s operational financial year.

Commissioner Larry McLaughlin started the discussion with some notes he took from the 80-page document.

“I took the time to go through this, there are a number of things that bother me,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin told the board that he disagreed with the order of a list on page 13. The list identifies the main reasons for poverty among different family groups and living conditions. in northeastern North Carolina.

The “lack of education” was mentioned first. McLaughlin suggested that “The high incidence of single-family households” be mentioned first instead.

“I would put the high incidence of single-family households at the top of the list,” McLaughlin said. “Two breadwinners would bring in more money than one breadwinner. The statistics are clear, single family households are increasing in all demographic groups.

The full list of local causes of poverty provided by the EIC are: lack of education, lack of industrial development, high incidence of single-family households, lack of vocational training and adequate skills development, lack of adequate public and private transport, the high incidence of layoffs, health and mental health problems and the lack of increased cost of living.

It was not clear whether the EIC listed the reasons for poverty in order of priority or at random.

McLaughlin elaborated further on the formulated list.

“Regarding the lack of education, we have public schools in this county from kindergarten to 12th (grade), so surely there is no lack of education. For lack of industrial development, if that’s the key to reducing poverty, look at places like Baltimore and other cities, look at their problems. “

Commissioner Ellis Lawrence agreed with McLaughlin, but questioned why “a high incidence of layoffs” was on the list.

Commissioner Tray Taylor agreed, saying, “Every time I turn around someone hires.”

President Bob Kirby has said the state’s unemployment rate is 4%. In Chowan County, it is currently 3.5%, as of November 2021.

County manager Kevin Howard stepped in and tried to clarify what the request might indicate.

“They listed things that could affect poverty. Some of those things may be causing it here, some not, ”Howard said.

The CSBG’s request also listed a “lack of recreational facilities” as a potential area for growth and improvement, which McLaughlin contested.

“Our young people have more recreational opportunities in this county than ever before,” said McLaughlin.

Taylor disagreed, saying there wasn’t much for young people to do in Chowan County for recreation. McLaughlin saw otherwise, but the two were able to agree to disagree.

Commissioner Alex Kehayes wondered aloud if the CSBG was aiming to increase youth programs and recreational opportunities in the region.

To conclude the comments, McLaughlin turned to the number of clients served by CSBG in the region.

According to the document, 15 new clients could be helped if the funds are granted, while 40 clients are renewals from previous years, for a total of 55 clients in 10 counties.

McLaughlin has not seen “much success” with the number of clients commensurate with the amount of money requested.

“Every soul matters, but from a government administrative standpoint, I don’t think this program is effective,” McLaughlin said. “And I think it’s a waste of money. These are my observations.

Other business conducted by the board included:

  • The board approved the 2021 general registers for local government agencies and the 2021 program registers schedule for local government agencies issued by the NCDCS to ensure compliance with statutory guidelines (Kehayes motion, unanimously).
  • An easement has been granted to the Town of Edenton to use a light pole for potential utility purposes at the corner of Earnhardt Field Road (McLaughlin’s proposal, unanimously).
  • A replacement for Win Dale on the ABC board has been appointed: Robert Turner (appointed by Taylor, unanimously).
  • All four proposed budget amendments were approved (motion by McLaughlin, unanimously). They include:
  1. BA 2022-033: Amend the 2022 budget to include discretionary income received until November 2021.
  2. BA 2022-034: Amend the 2022 budget to include the review of the After School Plus program due to the community spread of COVID-19 in Chowan County.
  3. BA 2022-035: Amend the 2022 budget for the Detention Center to include additional sums for the purchase of uniforms. Funds are transferred between posts, no additional funding is requested.
  4. BA 2022-036: Amend 2022 budget for MAS and general fund to include: 1) reversal of BA 2022-030 for vehicle purchase at $ 44,000, and 2) revised funding for purchase of vehicle at $ 25,000.

The John A. Holmes High School Replacement Project has now totaled $ 2,106,389 after a handful of payments were made in December to MB Kahn Construction Co., Inc. for the management of the construction. and to the Twiford law firm for legal fees.