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The Sampson County Board of Commissioners is expected to consider a possible change to its regular meeting time, from 7 p.m. to 10 a.m., a modification said to better accommodate Commissioner John Blanton’s needs.
The proposed change would conflict with two other commissioners’ regular jobs and the matter was tabled after a motion to move forward with the switch was withdrawn by board chairman Billy Lockamy.
Blanton has been receiving treatment at the VA Hospital in Fayetteville for health issues and his attendance at Tuesday’s budget meeting, at which the 2012-13 plan was officially approved, was his first in more than two months. His recuperation forced him to be absent from the last two monthly meetings of the Board of Commissioners, as well as every budget work session since late May.
Blanton, who will be stepping down at the end of this year after 17 years on the board, has expressed his intention to be at the rest of the meetings in his final term. County manager Ed Causey said the switch to morning meetings could help.
“In assisting Mr. Blanton in this morning, I talked with his daughter,” said Causey. “He’s very enthusiastic and would like to participate in all the remaining meetings through November. Certainly, moving him about and helping him get in, the board may wish to consider having your regularly scheduled board meetings at 10 a.m. to better accommodate Mr. Blanton and his needs for the four remaining meetings.”
Blanton uses a motorized wheelchair to get around and often requires some assistance to get in and out of his vehicle.
Assistant county manager Susan Holder noted that December’s meeting is a morning swearing-in at the courthouse, and would not have to change if the board chose to reschedule from night to morning. Under the modification, the date of the meeting would stay the same — the first Monday of each month.
“I think his family would be very appreciative of any consideration,” Causey said
A couple commissioners said they would like to accommodate such a request, but the change would act to conflict with their own occupations.
“I would love to accommodate him, but I’m still working,” said Commissioner Jarvis McLamb, a farmer.
“I would too, but I know I have a trial over in Hoke County in September and, in August, I have a case over in Cumberland County,” said Commissioner Albert Kirby, an attorney. “I don’t know what day a lot of times. They’re Mondays. Otherwise, I would most certainly agree.”
Commissioner Jefferson Strickland said the matter may have to wait.
“The issue might be that we just can’t do it right now perhaps,” said Strickland. “Maybe later in the fall it might be more convenient.”
Lockamy asked whether a motion was in order. Causey said the regular 7 p.m. time would remain unless a motion was made, and a vote taken, to alter the time. Lockamy pressed forward, making that motion.
“At this point in time, I make a motion that we change the time of the meeting to 10 o’clock from 7 p.m. on Monday night … to accommodate Mr. Blanton,” Lockamy said. “I make that motion.”
Blanton quickly seconded. McLamb asked whether Lockamy meant all remaining meetings.
“Yep, now through December,” Lockamy replied.
“There’s a good chance that I won’t be here, so you may accommodate Mr. Blanton but not accommodate me,” Kirby said, “but I suppose I’m expendable.”
Lockamy again pointed out that he made the motion, and asked again for a second, to which Blanton again offered it. He asked for any discussion.
“The discussion is I may not be here,” Kirby replied. “There’s an excellent chance that I won’t be here at 10 o’clock during the day, because I try cases, I’m in court. I’ll probably be in court, Mr. Chairman.”
Strickland said it might be better to table the motion until the next meeting so commissioners could have the chance to think about the request and have time to look at their calendars. He said there should be further discussion at the board’s next meeting.
“Although I agree with the thought and principle of this, that we need to accommodate,” said Strickland, “I think people with calendars and people with farming, we need to think about that as well.”
Lockamy reiterated there was a motion made and a second, again asking if there was any further discussion. Strickland asked whether he could amend the motion, to which Lockamy conceded he could withdraw the motion.
“I withdraw the motion that we give the opportunity, the chance, where it will be discussed at the next meeting,” Lockamy said. “Everybody check their calendar. We have one more meeting in August, and that will give us September, October, November that we change it to 10 o’clock. I’ll withdraw my motion because it looks like there’s not enough support to pass it.”
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman,” Strickland said.
The board will meet again at 7 p.m. Aug. 6 at the County Auditorium.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.