Shooting range approval rescinded following community outcry

RAEFORD — The Hoke County Board of Commissioners met Monday, September 19, with the implementation of three new bus routes and the rescinding of the shooting range as the key items on the agenda.

The board gave its approval for the implementation and advertising of three additional routes to the Hoke Area Transit Services Bus Stop/Demand Response Routes. 

“We would like to start those routes at 6 in the morning until 6 in the afternoon,” said Transit Director Nancy Thornton. “We also are proposing the bus routes have a daily pass fare of $4 for unlimited rides for the day of purchase, weekly passes for $16, unlimited rides for one week from purchase, monthly passes for $45, unlimited rides for one month from purchase. For the senior and disabled we propose a rate of $2 for daily pass, $8 for weekly pass, and $22 for monthly pass.”

Thornton also stated that for Out of County fares, the costs would be 1-5 miles is a $7 roundtrip, 6-10 is a $14 roundtrip, 11-15 is an $18 roundtrip, 16+ is a $25 roundtrip, and to Chapel Hill, Durham or Raleigh is a $40 roundtrip. The senior and disabled rate is half of the standard fare prices.

Along with the route approval, the board also approved the application for the Community Transportation Program Grant for a total application amount of $146,479 with a local match of 15% – $21,972.

The board also approved the acceptance of the FY 2023 Rural Operating Assistance Program allocation.

“The ROAP allocation subsidizes the cost of the trips we perform,” Thornton said. “It’s a total of $133,933 which is down by $13,195 from last year’s allocation.”

The board also gave its support to the Rockfish area stating its plans to provide sanitary sewer services to the community and commercial areas.

“This is millions of dollars of infrastructure funding,” said Chairman Allen Thomas, Jr. “People talk about growth, but this is the thing that makes growth possible. The millions of dollars that we are pumping into our economy to make sure that we’re prepared for that growth.”

At the last commissioner’s meeting on September 6, the board of commissioners gave permission to the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office to construct a firing range.

The intention of the range was to provide a place for Hoke County officers to complete their firearm qualifications without having to travel outside of the county to do so. 

However, after an outpouring of community feedback against the firing range – the proximity to the animal shelter and therefore the wellbeing of animals in the shelter being the main point of concern –  the board decided to rescind permission.

“We approved for the sheriff’s office to place a firing range behind CC, Steele Road, which is in close proximity to the animal shelter,” Allen said. “After hearing feedback from the community, I’ve asked the board to add this back to the agenda for the purpose of rescinding that permission.”

The subject of the range was first brought up in a December 20, 2021 meeting.

According to Commissioner Harry Southerland, the sheriff was unable to attend the meeting due to working on an ongoing investigation with the FBI, so it remains to be seen the direction the sheriff’s office will choose to go in for a new location.

The Hoke County Board of Commissioners is next scheduled to meet October 3.