FAIRMONT — Commissioners here heard an update on Robeson Health Care Corporation’s plans to build a new medical center, with construction to occur this year.
“We are so excited that we are gonna bring a new face to South Robeson Medical Center,” said Jennifer McLamb, RHCC’s chief operations officer. The current medical center is located at 1212 Walnut St.
The proposed building will be 12,365 square feet. It will employ up to four health care providers, a dentist and up to two dental hygienists, and will have an in-house pharmacy that is larger than the current center’s pharmacy, she said. The center also will offer behavioral heath services.
“It’s gonna be a beautiful facility that’s gonna mirror the one in Lumberton,” McLamb said.
An environmental assessment of the construction plans is underway, she said. The Corporation is waiting for a closing date on the purchase of the property. It also must pick a project contractor.
The proposed facility will be located at Red Cross and Walnut streets, McLamb said. The RHCC has received a $1 million Health Resources and Services Administration grant, which will help fund construction.
Tim Hall, RHCC CEO, told the commissioners that the health care provider is willing to host a mass vaccination clinic in town. Mayor Charles Townsend told Hall to reach out to interim Town Manager Ricky Harris.
The RHCC also continues to offer Moderna COVID-19 vaccines at its locations in the county, Hall said.
Also on Tuesday, the commissioners approved an engineering services contract with LKC Engineering for rehabilitation of the pump station at Happy Hill and installation of generators at two other pump stations.
Commissioner Felecia McLean-Kesler did not attend the meeting and did not cast a vote.
Under the terms of the contract, the town agrees to pay $35,000 for engineering and design, and $33,000 for construction administration, inspection and certification. The project funding comes from a $345,000 Golden LEAF Foundation grant awarded on Aug. 6, 2020.
The engineering firm must submit the contract to the Foundation for review before work can begin, said Jenny Larson, town clerk and Finance director.
Commissioners Monte McCallum and Terry Evans spoke out against zoning that prevents the placement of mobile homes in certain areas of town after a rendering of proposed updated zoning maps was presented. McCallum said the only place that mobile homes can be placed is in “predominantly black areas.” He also said he was concerned about homes being placed in areas that continue to experience flooding and drainage problems.
“We’re disadvantaging people,” McCallum said.
The areas McCallum spoke of were in north Fairmont, Old Field and Happy Hill.
“That’s what I call systemic racism,” McCallum said.
Interim Town Manager Ricky Harris said the zoning maps contained the same zoning lines they had before, and the engineering company only worked to clarify some areas of question in the zoning maps, which still need to be updated.
“This is a work in progress,” Harris said.
Changes would need to be made by the Planning Board and approved by commissioners as they relate to zoning, Harris said. The engineering company did not have the authority to make such changes.
“I hope we can get further than the way this is,” McCallum said.
Larson said the town has to update zoning maps to comply with state regulations.
In other business, the town also presented Harris with a plaque in appreciation for his services while it searched for a full-time town manager. Hank Raper will assume the town manager role on April 2.
“Mr. Ricky Harris has been our town manager for 10 months, and over that period has made many decisions which have improved and uplifted our community,” Commissioner Charles Kemp said.
“As a result of his hard work, he will be leaving our town better than he found it,” Kemp added.
Mayor Pro Tem J.J. McCree also shared parting words.
“I hope you don’t forget about us,” he said. “I really hate to see you go, and I enjoyed working with you.”
Harris has served the town since May 7.
“Just thank you guys for everything,” Harris said.
“I’ve had a great time here in Fairmont,” he said after the meeting.
Lynn Floyd, of 1405 Lakeview Road in Fairmont, also spoke during the meeting, asking the board if members listen to other town residents’ concerns after he received no feedback about flooding at his residence. Floyd cleared a ditch himself after getting no response from the mayor or town maintenance workers after he asked them to take a look at his property.
“My heart’s heavy because nobody came to check on me or nothing,” he said. “But I pay them taxes, and I feel like I got sort of shorted there.”
Commissioners also heard from Sharhonda Taylor, an NC Relief case manager with Southeastern Community Action Partnership. Taylor said county and town residents that have needs as a result of Hurricane Florence can apply for the Relief NC Program, which can help with home repairs, stabilization assistance, housing, transportation and employment.
She also said the CARES Act Program can help people who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19 pay bills or get employment benefits. A Family Empowerment Self-Sufficiency Program is also available to help people find jobs and become self sufficient.
“Our main goal is to eliminate poverty,” Taylor said.
She also requested the town post flyers with information about the programs.
For more information about the programs, call 910-827-2843 or visit https://scapnc.org.
The town has scheduled an Easter egg hunt for 10 a.m. March 27 at the community park. Children up to 12 years old may participate.
The next town Board of Commissioners meeting is scheduled for April 20.
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