Commissioners set to discuss potential consolidation of Health Department

Published 12:20 am Sunday, November 1, 2020

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Board of Commissioners at its meeting Monday will discuss consolidating the county’s Health Department.

Commissioners received a presentation regarding options for consolidating the department at a regularly scheduled session on Sept. 8, but decided to table the discussion at that time to provide themselves with ample time to study available options.

Vice Chairman Jim Greene requested options for consolidating the Health Department be explored after the Environmental Health Department, housed under the Health Department, fell behind on septic tank inspections due to being short staffed. At one point, the wait time for inspections ballooned to about 10 weeks.

After the Board of Commissioners approved increased signing bonuses for the department to fill several vacancies, new inspectors were hired and Health Department Director Nina Oliver said that the department is making progress on the backlog. Currently, Oliver said that the 10-week wait time has been reduced by about 50% and is now about five weeks and four days on average.

“The new onsite staff are doing a great job and completing multiple site visits per day,” Oliver said. “Onsite staff are focusing on the backlog and working to continue to reduce it. Although progress has been made, we continue to work hard to make enhancements and will continue to look for opportunities to improve and become more efficient as we do in all our programs.”

Even though the problem has seemingly been remedied, Greene said that he still wanted to “find ways where we could be more responsive when a problem arose.”

At its Sept. 8 meeting, the board of commissioners was presented with nine different plans for consolidating agencies, several of which included commissioners assuming the powers and duties of the health board and social services board, which would then be consolidated.

Commissioners could ultimately decide not to adopt any of the plans. 

Other items on the meeting agenda include:

• Commissioner will consider scheduling a public hearing for Nov. 16 to consider an incentive request from the Rowan Economic Development Commission for “Project Hero.” The company behind “Project Hero” is an existing business in Rowan County and is looking to invest $1.5 million in renovating and expanding its current facility. The expansion would lead to the creation of 30 new jobs over the next four years.

• Commissioners have received a memo notifying them that Suretha Springs has withdrawn her request for a conditional use permit for a proposed event center on her property at 1115 Brookwood Drive. Several of Springs’ neighbors voiced their opposition to her request during a commissioners meeting on Oct. 19. Commissioners did not vote on the request at the time, deciding to table it until a future meeting.

• Commissioners will consider a temporary use agreement with the Rowan County Tourism Development Authority for the Tis The Season Spectacular parade. The parade, which is to be held on Wednesday, Nov. 25, will have attendees drive down Main Street while enjoying various holiday decorations and entertainment along the way. Included in the parade will be the Dakota and Friends dinosaur attraction, local bands and even a hot air balloon, among more traditional Christmas decorations.

• A request from Bath and Body Works to extend its lease at West End Plaza will be considered by commissioners. The fragrance and bath product store is also requesting that the county abates 50% of rent from mid-March through July 2 when the store was closed due to Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order regarding COVID-19. If approved, that would amount to a prorated total of $1,759 to be abated and $1,750 to be deferred but paid in full after January 2021. The deferred amount is consistent with the recent policy adopted by the board of commissioners, but the request to abate 50% is not and will be a new consideration. Bath and Body Works recently paid $2,000 presumably for its August and September rent.

• On behalf of Morgan Well and Pump Inc., project engineer Sam King Jr. is requesting a rezoning of 3.16 acres located on the southeast corner of Old Beatty Ford and Bostian roads referenced as Rowan County Tax Parcels 140-234. The rezoning request is for the land to be rezoned commercial, businesses and industrial from rural agricultural to accommodate a 4,000-square-foot building and associated storage area for a water well drilling contractor business.

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About Ben Stansell

Ben Stansell covers business, county government and more for the Salisbury Post. He joined the staff in August 2020 after graduating from the University of Alabama. Email him at ben.stansell@salisburypost.com.

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