By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
The newly formed Edgecombe County Human Services Board nominated members of social services and health advisory boards and discussed its bylaws in a Tuesday evening meeting. Diversity on the board was also a topic of discussion.
The meeting began with the swearing in of the 20 board members by the Honorable Carol A. White, Edgecombe County Clerk of Court. The consolidated human services board, comprised of former members of the old board of health and board of social services, as well as some new faces, met for the first time last month.
“Consolidating into a human services agency will allow for better coordinated service provision to our citizens,” said Assistant County Manager Eric Evans. He gave a brief update on the board membership at Tuesday’s meeting.
“Since our last meeting, Dr. (Thomas) Knox tendered his resignation,” Evans said. A new member, Rev. Roy Gray, has since joined the board.
Later, in a discussion of the human services board bylaws, Evans suggested that the board have the maximum number of members allowed by the state legislature – 25.
“We still have some vacancies that need to be filled and we need to make room for those vacancies,” Evans said. Evans also clarified a portion of the bylaws defining a “majority” as one-half the board plus one member, the number of members necessary to conduct official business.
In other discussion, board member Florence Armstrong suggested having a human services client on the board’s executive committee, to ensure “checks and balances.”
“I just want to make sure we have a presence of mind and we have equity as far as this board is concerned,” she said.
Dr. Robin Webb Corbett, board vice-chair, suggested tabling the approval of the bylaws until next month’s meeting, in light of all the discussion and proposed changes. The board voted in agreement.
The next item of business was the nomination of members of the health and social services advisory boards.
“I do want to get these advisory boards up and running, so we can get the ball rolling,” Board Chair Larry Woodley said. Woodley asked that at least five board members volunteer for the health advisory board. Six members – Faye Spruell, George Eason, Dr. Ken Lovette, Dr. Mandy Tolson, Dr. Corbette, and Ann Adams – volunteered and the board voted to approve them.
Woodley then asked for at least five board members to volunteer for the social services advisory board. Eight members – Othar Woodard, Commissioner Viola Harris, Phyllis Talbot, Florence Armstrong, Ernest Taylor, Jr., Chair Larry Woodley, Rose Wooten and Allen Mitchell – raised their hands, and the board voted their approval.
Evans said the purpose of the advisory boards is “to study and discuss issues that may require more time than what would be practical to do so in the full board meeting, and then to advise the full board accordingly.”
Diversity on the human services board was also discussed at the meeting. Rev. Roosevelt Higgs, a community member, addressed the board regarding its racial makeup during the public comment portion of the meeting. The board has black and white members, but no other races are represented.
“I think this board needs to put forth a greater effort to have diversity,” Higgs stated. “They’re already here…It’s just a matter of inviting them to come to the table and not leaving them on the sidelines.”
“Efforts have been made to try to get a Hispanic for the board. I know the efforts have been made because I have made them myself,” County Commissioner Viola Harris, board member, later responded. Harris said she has in mind a young Hispanic lady who just became a U.S. citizen to join the board.
Woodley applauded Harris for her efforts and encouraged the other board members to recruit diverse representatives to fill the remaining openings on the board.
“We want to be a representation of the people that we serve,” he said.
In other business at Tuesday’s meeting:
Marva Scott, director of the Department of Social Services, gave a presentation on N.C. FAST (Families Accessing Services through Technology). The new system, which is in the process of being launched, will eventually allow clients to fill out only one application for all social service program, rather than filling out separate applications for each program.
Susan Rogerson, health department nursing director, gave reports on rabies, a vaccine preventable disease found in mammals, and vector-borne diseases (transmitted by fleas, ticks and mosquitoes). Health director Karen Lachapelle recommended that homeowners dump out containers with stagnant water in and around the yard to discourage mosquitoes from breeding in the area, as the weather gets warmer. Eugene Taylor, lead animal control officer for Edgecombe County, stressed the importance of pet owners getting their dogs/ cats vaccinated to prevent the spread of rabies.
The board approved Edgecombe HomeCare & Hospice’s statistical report for the quarter beginning Oct. 1, 2012 and ending Dec. 31, 2012.