Commissioners approve housing purchase for displaced children

The purchase will be finalized once all renovations have been completed on the property

The Hoke County Board of Commissioners approved the purchase of a building for housing displaced children within the Department of Social Services (DSS) system at its meeting Monday.

The house, which is in need of repairs before it can be used, is intended to be a temporary housing solution for displaced children in Hoke County so they don’t end up housed within the DSS building. The purchase, which will be finalized once renovations are complete, will total around $370,000.

“We’re getting a place where our employee didn’t have to stay down at DSS with these kids,” said Commissioner Tony Hunt. “That we have a place that they can go, get showers and the DSS workers have a place to work and stay in until they can get these kids placed.”

According to DSS, the process has been ongoing for over a year with nine children having come through during that time.

“I’m tired of the ball getting dropped,” said Vice Chair Harry Southerland. “It’s been dropped for a whole year. We’ve been trying to get this done for a whole year. We’ve been housing kids illegally in DSS for a whole year. Somebody dropped the ball and I’m tired of dropping the ball. I told the County Manager today, this is unacceptable for us to keep going through this process over and over again. Let’s get it done.”

The board will have further discussions as to whether the home will need to be built up to residential housing standards or to the North Carolina group home standards.

In other business, the board was updated on taxes collected as of March.

“The total collected for the month of March, current year, was $745,208.32 at a 95.16% rate compared to a 95.78% rate last year,” said tax collector Daphne Graham-Dudley. “Prior years collected was $92,267.25 at a 42.29% rate compared to a 45.44% rate last year. The total collected for the month of March was $837,475.57.”

The board signed off on a few other tax matters, including the granting of religious exemption status to a parcel owned by the Cape Fear Conference B United American Freewill Baptist Denomination church and the subsequent releasing of delinquent taxes from that parcel.

“One of the parcels is already exempt, but the second parcel was not under the religious exemption status,” said acting tax assessor Mandi Davis. “The amount of the delinquent taxes was $363.76.”

“Well if it’s used for church things it should be exempt for it,” said commissioner Robert Wright.

Finally, County Manager Letitia Edens addressed the board about recent break ins at county facilities.

“In our departments, we’ve had some break ins as of late. We’ve had some vehicles hit with catalytic converters, we’ve had some sheds hit,” Edens said. “I’ve had the department heads do interviews with their employees just to make sure so we can talk to them and find out if anybody knows anything. Public buildings and utilities did interviews. We don’t have any factual information that came out of anything. No one designated that they knew of anything for fact.”

She said that the county would be increasing security at its properties.

“We do need to protect our property a little bit more and we will do that,” Edens continued. “We have made assessments on some things and there will be some new things we do as far as security goes.”

The Hoke County Board of Commissioners will next meet May 6.