Forsyth Board of Commissioners discuss Hurricane Florence

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

WINSTON-SALEM — The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners met on Sept. 20 to discuss hurricane responses, made zoning and budget changes and made various appointments to boards and committees.

The meeting began at 2 p.m. with operations officer for the Office of Emergency Management in Forsyth County August Vernon’s analysis of how Hurricane Florence impacted the county and how local authorities have responded. Vernon emphasized that patience is a recurring theme in how local and state authorities have planned for and responded to Florence. Local authorities began tracking the storm on Sept. 8, according to Mr. Vernon. When the storm hit the Forsyth County area overnight on Sept. 16, authorities were prepared. Over 180 calls were placed by concerned citizens related to minor flooding, downed power lines and power outages, and downed trees and limbs. By Monday morning, surplus resources from Winston-Salem and Forsyth County were deployed to the much harder-hit coast of North Carolina. Vernon noted that local infrastructure damage was minimal which allowed for the deployment of these resources. He also recognized the partnership between the Red Cross and Wake Forest which allowed the sheltering of over 450 evacuees from coastal counties with food, medical attention and other key resources.

The second part of the agenda centered around zoning. Four different proposals were voted on in this section, and all four were approved. The first three (a single-family residence in outer Winston, north of Hilltop Drive, moving from city to county jurisdiction; a 13-acre undeveloped land tract in SE Forsyth via Shugart Enterprises, LLC; expansion of a Durham-based group care facility making inroads locally) passed unanimously. The fourth proposal was an agreement with Wilson-Cook Medical where the county would expend general funds to encourage the relocation and expansion of its medical device manufacturing in the county. This passed with a 5-2 vote, as Commissioners Linville and Whisenhunt voted no.

County manager Dudley Watts begun his section of the meeting with a variety of policy prescriptions for the board. All of these motions were unanimously approved. Funds for Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, which implements a youth urban gardening program, were partially re-appropriated. Additional funding for the architects performing maintenance on the Forsyth County Public Library in Clemmons were secured. Furthermore, a service agreement with Motorola Solutions, Inc. was voted to be executed. New police vehicles for the General Services were approved for purchase, while surplus motor vehicles were approved to be sold via public auction next month. However, obsolete or unused motor vehicles were authorized to be donated to the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education.

Finally, citizens were appointed to the Consolidated Human Services Board, Community Child Protection Team, Emergency Management Advisory council and a variety of other Forsyth County advisory and prevention councils. This was followed by unanimous approvals of changes to the compensation packages of the county manager and tax assessor/collector. The tax assessor/collector will now earn $4,600.00 per pay period in salary, while the county manager will earn $8,567.20 per pay period. The county manager will also receive a $3,000 contribution to his 401(a) plan by the end of this calendar year. For the 2018-2019 fiscal year, the county manager shall also warrant a gas/travel allowance of $7,000 and receive five additional annual leave days.

The next meeting of the commissioners will be Oct. 4 at 2 p.m.