Commissioners approve temporary school health liaison position

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, October 5, 2021

SALISBURY — In a meeting that lasted just over 10 minutes, the Rowan County Board of Commissioners on Monday afternoon approved creating a temporary school health liaison position.

The liaison will be responsible for helping all schools in Rowan County respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“This person would also be able to coordinate if there’s a vaccine event that needs to happen or maybe getting testing figured out, or even helping with contact tracing occasionally,” Health Director Alyssa Harris said. “It’ll open up a lot of opportunities having a dedicated staff because right now it’s being split between myself and our nursing director and our other COVID staff.”

Harris said the Health Department has a weekly call with schools in the county to keep educators updated on the most current COVID-19 information and protocols. Having a liaison, Harris said, will give school leaders a clear point of contact.

“We want to have a dedicated staff person instead of them calling me and me not being able to get back with them immediately,” Harris said. “A lot of times things are an immediate need.”

The temporary position, which is for the 2021-22 school year, will be supported entirely by $115,000 in state funding. The funding will cover the liaison’s salary, benefits and support.

“I’m very grateful that the state has provided a specialist to us,” said Commissioner Judy Klusman.

Harris said she would like to have the health liaison position filled as soon as possible.

In other meeting business:

• The board approved a $40,445 contract between the county and C&R Millwork and Lumber for the Gold Hill-based company to restore the Kerr Mill Water Wheel at Sloan Park. The bid process was managed by S.E. Collins Consulting Engineers. C&R Millwork and Lumber was the only company to bid on the project.

Kerr Mill, listed on the National Register Of Historic Places, was constructed in 1823 by Joseph Kerr for use on his 2,000-acre plantation. The original water wheel on the property was used to ground grain into flour. Although the original water wheel was lost to time, a new water wheel was built for the mill around 1989. That mill churned water for several decades before falling into disrepair a few years ago.

The county attempted to have the water wheel repaired in 2018, but the project was never completed and the wheel continued to deteriorate. Most of the wheel will likely need to be completely replaced.

There is no expected date of completion on the contract between the county and C&R Millwork and Lumber.

• Commissioners gave Landis permission to have a vinyl mural placed on the side of the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office building in the town. The colorful mural says “Greetings from Landis North Carolina” and features a blue train driving through lush green woods. The word “Landis” in the mural is composed of letters with some of the town’s most recognizable landmarks painted inside.

Commissioner Craig Pierce said the mural would not be painted directly onto the wall of the building; it would be hung on a banner. The town is planning to have the mural on the building before its fall festival on Oct. 30.

• The board approved a contract with the Talbert, Bright and Ellington engineering firm for consulting services for new hangars at the Mid-Carolina Regional Airport. The airport is planning to develop a public safety hangar, three “box hangars” and a corporate hangar. The total cost of the firm’s design and planning services is $1.27 million.

• Commissioners authorized staff to develop a reimbursement agreement for funding the county will receive to pay for a study of the Long Ferry Road corridor. The county will receive $30,000, or 80% of the overall cost study, from the NCDOT and will commit $7,500, the remaining 20%, of its own funding.

Rowan County will evaluate increases in vehicular and truck traffic and access to several prospective non-residential properties. The resulting Long Ferry Road corridor plan will help determine the best traffic control methods to supplement the overall street network. The county will now advertise for an engineering firm to complete the study.

• The board approved an amendment to the county’s contract with Greensboro-based engineering firm Hazen and Sawyer for the company to continue to help with efforts to remedy high levels of lead in drinking water in some homes on the Northeast Water System.

• Commissioners received a litter report from the Department of Environmental Management. In the third quarter of this year, the department removed 16.58 tons of  litter and debris from along Rowan County roadsides and 78 improperly discarded tires. The report noted two tons of litter and debris were collected during a cleanup event at High Rock Lake in September. The department collected 37.77 tons of litter in the first quarter of 2021 and 32.33 tons of litter in the second quarter, bringing its current yearly total to 86.68 tons.

• The board appointed Jordan Waller to the Town of Faith Zoning Board of Adjustments, Ashley Honbarrier and Rebecca Saleeby to the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council, Jeffrey Nash and Jason R. Fox to the Local Emergency Planning Committee and Beth Barton Huber to the Rowan Transit System Advisory Committee. The board also appointed Melanie Jade Dombrowski to the optometrist seat on the Board of Health. The seat is currently held by Carla Rose as a member of the general public, but state statute dictates that a member of the public can only hold the position until an optometrist is available.

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

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