Jilted citizens likely to be advisors

Only two voices of dissent were heard Monday during a public hearing to dissolve Graham County’s Board of Health and Department of Social Services Board.
“If you have a DSS director and a Health Department director, without an advisory board, how are you going to know if what they are telling you is accurate? You have no way of challenging it,” Jim Hager remarked to Graham County commissioners during a meeting at the community building in Robbinsville. “I don’t know what your experience is dealing with different services, or what your educational background is, but it seems to me it’s not a good move.”
Graham County Manager Becky Garland stated that commissioners will still rely on input from members of the dissolved boards who will be asked to serve on an advisory board.
“The Health Board of the county advisory board is on retention. They continue to oversee public health concerns with policy and able to make recommendations to the board of county commissioners,” Garland said. “So we’re hopeful there will be a very positive, good working relationship and those advisory members would be involved in making recommendations.”
Garland said that commissioners would appoint a health advisory board, and that state statute allows commissioners to appoint a Social Services advisory board.
“County board of commissioners will act in the role of the health board and DSS board, getting advice from at least the health advisory board, and also, obviously seeking advice from and work with counsel from the DSS director and health director,” Garland said.
Commissioner Connie Orr said, “I speak in favor of a DSS advisory board.”
Audience member Ann Hager, a member of the DSS board, remarked, “We were working on several issues, such as a child care protective team meeting – I hope that’s going on. We were looking at numbers, we were looking at how many reports of neglect and abuse were reported and how many were acted on. In 2015, there were 215 reported and 49 acted on ... Those are the things you’re going to have to look at. You’re going to have to look at reports and make sure that no child in the county is abused or neglected just because of control of DSS.”
“Your board is not dissolved, as of yet,” remarked Board Chairman Keith Eller. “... probably the next commission meeting if we get everything set up.”
According to Garland, giving commissioners direct oversight of the Health Dept. and Social Services should result in improved communication.
“My personal self, I’m not going to vote to dissolve the board. You all will just report to the county manager and commissioners if you need anything or anything comes us,” Commissioner Raymond Williams remarked. “The only difference, we do the hiring of the director, the director of the Health Department. As far as I’m concerned, the board will be as they are. The only thing you won’t be able to do is fire and hire the director.”

The Graham Star

Mailing address: P.O. Box 69, Robbinsville, NC 28771

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