Commissioners sworn in for new terms

Allen elected as chairman, Leach as vice-chair

RAEFORD — The Hoke County Board of Commissioners met Monday, where select commissioners were sworn in and also were elected to leadership positions.

Commissioners Allen Thomas, Jr., Tony Hunt, and Harry Southerland were resworn in for their new terms as Hoke County Commissioners after winning reelection back in the November election.

“We have a tremendous obligation and responsibility,” Southerland said after being resworn in. “There is going to be a lot on our agenda going forward. We will build a new high school for our Hoke County kids. We’re going to take care of our TAs, our teachers, our bus drivers, and our custodians. We’re going to take care of all of them. We’re going to take care of our homeless. We’re going to build some shelters. We’re going to do something with domestic violence. We’re going to work. My agenda going forward is putting Hoke County first.”

A big focus from Southerland was an emphasis on circulating money within the county.

“We have a lot of small businesses in this community that we need to give money back to in order to allow them to flourish,” Southerland said. “We’re getting ready to spend $100-$200 million in this county over the next four years. All this money does not need to leave Hoke County. We’ve got small business owners that can paint, that can do concrete, that can do plumbing, that can do electricity, that need to bid on some of these contracts so this money can cycle in this county at least seven times. We’ve got to put Hoke County first. We’ve got to make sure we do right by our citizens.”

For Hunt, there was also an emphasis on the economy in his statement after being sworn in alongside growth.

“We have a lot of things that we have going on here in our county because we’re one of the fastest-growing counties in the state,” Hunt said. “We can have growth, but we need to have smart growth, so we need to be thinking about how we’re growing and the effects that it has on us as far as the resources we need to be able to sustain that growth. I look forward to the challenges we have. I’m glad to be serving with this board of commissioners. As a leader, we must always put the people first and not ourselves or our agenda, but the welfare of the citizens of this county, and one of the main things is trying to maintain a tax on our people that they can afford to pay. We’ve been able to keep it down for the last 10-12 years, and I’m proud of that and want to strive to continue to do that.”

After being sworn in, Thomas was reelected by the board as Chairman over Hunt by a 3-2 vote, and Commissioner James Leach was elected as Vice-Chairman after Hunt withdrew his name from consideration for vice-chair.

“There’s nothing like an election because people can say whatever they want, but you really don’t know what the majority thinks until it’s time to vote. And us three gentlemen, who raised our right hands to God, we raised our right hand because you gave us the authority to sit up here to work on your behalf and continue what we started,” Allen said.

The board also held two public hearings, one in regard to an application for a special use permit to construct a large daycare in an RA-20 zoning district and the other for a preliminary plat approval request for a 55-lot major subdivision.

“The Planning and Zoning Department received an application for a special use permit submitted by Gold Omogbehin for 1.03 acres of the addressed parcel located at 506 Doc Brown Road,” said Hoke County Planner Jeffery Dockery. “The property is currently zoned RA-10 (Residential Agricultural), and the applicant requests a special use permit for a large daycare of 50 or more children.”

By state regulation, any childcare building that would house eight or more children would need to be classified as a large daycare, thereby needing the special use permit.

Following the first hearing, the board fully approved the permit.

The next hearing was with regard to a new subdivision plan.

“This project is located in the Urban Service Area off of Highway 401 and 1303,” Dockery said. “It’s right next to the Turnberry Subdivision. The property is currently zoned as R-8, and this allows a minimum of 8,000 square foot lot sizes. The lots will be served by Hoke County water and sewer. The subdivision will be 55 lots. The development will be served by the primary road Brickendon Lane and will connect with the existing street Royal Birkdale Drive which accesses US 401.”

The board approved the preliminary plat with the condition that an intersection is constructed on Brickendon Lane due to the street being longer than 1,500 feet after a recommendation from the planning board.

The board also appointed Sgt. John Francois of the Raeford Police Department and Holly Smith, Assistant District Attorney, as designers to the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council.

The Hoke County Board of Commissioners will next meet December 19.