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County commissioners delay decision on airport funding request sparked by COVID-19


LUMBERTON — County commissioners Monday punted the $12,295.08 portion of a change order request on the contract to build a terminal at the Lumberton Regional Airport.

Airport Manager Bob Snuck requested the money during Monday’s regular meeting of the Robeson County Board of Commissioners held by teleconference. Snuck said he needed the money so he could pay the project’s contractor for the 21 additional work days caused by COVID-19. The cost would be $585.48 per day.

“Well, I’m not for it. I’ll say that,” Commissioner David Edge said.

He didn’t see a legitimate reason to pay the contractor more money because of the virus, Edge said.

“Why should we pay them more?” said Edge, president and CEO of Image Supply, Inc. in Lumberton. “My business hasn’t gotten more because of COVID.”

Many businesses aren’t getting money for days and income lost because of the novel coronavirus, and instead are “bearing the brunt” of the virus, Edge said.

A motion by Commissioner Tom Taylor to approve the request failed because it did not receive a second.

Snuck said he hopes to receive more information Thursday about the contract’s penalty clause and get answers on how to proceed with payment. He also is seeking grants to help cover some of the project’s costs.

Commissioner Roger Oxendine suggested the Board of Commissioners wait until Snuck receives more information before it puts more money into the project.

The commissioners did approve terminal construction changes totaling $5,635.41 and $8,668.97 worth of project credits.

In other business, the commissioners voted 4-2 to add to Monday’s agenda consideration of a public hearing date on consolidation of the county’s Health and Social Services departments’ governing boards. Commissioners Jerry Stephens and Pauline Campbell cast the two votes in opposition. Both voted against the consolidation during the Aug. 3 meeting.

No public hearing date was set Monday. The issue will be revisited during the Sept. 7 meeting.

The commissioners approved a request from Robeson County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Tammy Deese to apply for the 2020 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant. The money would be used to help the Sheriff’s Office buy a Thermo Scientific TruNarc Handheld Narcotics Analyzer, at a cost of $28,173.59. The device, which would be used by the Sheriff’s Office’s Narcotics Division, tests more than 400 substances, including narcotics, stimulants, hallucinogens and analgesics, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

“The Thermo Scientific TruNarc Handheld Narcotics Analyzer requires no direct contact with most substances making it safer for deputies that are conducting field testing,” according to information from the Sheriff’s Office.

Currently, officers must physically remove drug samples from their containers to test them, which can be hazardous to their health. The device would allow them to scan substances while they still are in their packaging.

The device will deliver “clear, real-time results for presumptive evidence and provides automated, tamper-proof records with scan results, including time and date stamps to help expedite prosecution,” according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Also approved Monday was a resolution to advertise for bids on surplus property on Glenn Road in Parkton. The property is listed at $3,575 plus the cost of advertisement.

As part of the Consent Agenda, the commissioners adopted a resolution honoring the memory of 62-year-old Raymond Cummings, who was the longest-serving member on the Board of Commissioners when he died Aug. 7 at Duke University Hospital in Durham. Cummings had represented District 5 since 1996. The commissioner battled health issues for much of 2019.

“Whereas, his tireless passion for Robeson County, coupled with his steadfast devotion to District 5, is exemplified in the time and effort with over 24 years of public service. His faith and convictions guided him as a steadfast leader and servant to the people,” the resolution reads in part.

The resolution, dated Aug. 11, was adopted as a permanent record in the minutes of Monday’s meeting.

At the start of Monday’s meeting, commissioners observed a moment of silence in honor of Cummings.

Robeson County Board of Commissioners Chairman Lance Herndon described the past week as “a long, sad week for our county and our board.” Herndon said he would continue to keep Cummings’ family in his prayers.

Reach Jessica Horne at 910-416-5165 or via email at [email protected]

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