RAEFORD — The Hoke County Board of Commissioners met Monday, May 15, with various administrative items on the agenda.
The board was presented with a potential Juneteenth Festival plan being put on by Mt. Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church.
“Juneteenth is a reminder of what enslaved Africans came through and what we can achieve,” said Mt. Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church Black History Ministry Chair Tannelaine Wilson. “It is important to remember that we were able to get out of bondage and what it took. The celebration helps each generation to reflect on what more there is to do. We should consider the meaning and evolution of the term freedom. The holiday is relevant to any African diaspora community and its continued struggle. It is important to remember the true meaning of Juneteenth. June 19, 1865, is deeper than a message delivered by General Granger to freed enslaved Africans. It is about the black agency that resulted in the delivery of the message.
“The Juneteenth Committee is seeking support and cooperation to host the 2024 Juneteenth Festival of Hoke County in the county seat. Downtown Raeford is the prime location for the community event. It is accessible to many, neutral, beneficial to merchants and a local economy booster. This is another great opportunity for the community to focus on education, community improvement and to highlight our city.”
According to Wilson, partners for the festival include the Hoke County NAACP, which will offer voter registration and Know Your Rights sessions, the Tia Hart Foundation, River Jordan Council on African American Heritage, which will offer genealogy and oral history sessions, and Dominion Christian Academy. There will also be a mobile medical clinic, representation by the North Carolina History Center, as well as a parade.
“I would like to thank Mt. Pisgah,” said Chairman Thomas Allen, Jr. “They were instrumental in the county recognizing Juneteenth as a county holiday. So this will be the first year we will recognize Juneteenth as a county holiday.”
The board formally recognized Juneteenth as a county-wide holiday last year.
The board then approved the relocation of certain court operations while the new courthouse is under construction.
According to the Commissioners, the downtown parking committee had raised concerns over the fact that during construction, there would be a sizable loss of parking spaces in the downtown Raeford area.
So, to make accommodations, the board approved moving some courthouse activities to the Robert A. Wright Hoke County Agriculture Building. The building will be used for court from Tuesday through Thursday for a six-month period once construction starts, and, if needed, the request can be brought back before the board if an extension is required.
“Wherever we can get space for people to get in and out of and for jurors to be able to come and go, we’ll take,” said District Attorney Mike Hardin. “We’ve run court in a lot of places. I’ve run court in this room. I’ve run court in the City Council room, so we’ll run court wherever we have space to run court. I just want to make sure we take care of the citizens while we’re at it.”
The board was also presented with a report of the total amount of taxes collected up to the month of April.
“The total collected for the month of April, current year, was $216,999.65 at a 96.37% collection rate, compared to the 96.78% rate last year,” said Tax Collector Daphne Graham-Dudley. “The prior years collected was $67,964.26 at a 49.38% rate compared to a 32.91% rate last year.”
In total, the tax revenue collected for the month of April was $284,963.91.
“If you can get me four more percent, I’ll do the rest,” joked Commissioner Harry Southerland.
The board also approved a tax release for previously unpaid property tax.
“We have one release request for the month of May for Komatsu Financial, LP,” said Acting Tax Assessor Mandi Davis. “The total release amount is $2,651.44.”
The release request arose due to the business having been double-listed in Cumberland County as well.
The Hoke County Board of Commissioners will next meet June 5.