PEMBROKE — The Lumbee Tribal Council on Thursday elected Bobby Oxendine to serve as speaker for the coming year. Oxendine replaces Bill James Brewington, who did not seek another term holding the office.
Oxendine, a resident of Prospect and a retired educator from the Public Schools of Robeson County, holds the District 5 seat on the council. District 5 encompasses the communities of Oxendine and Prospect.
“I hope to forge a better working relationship between the chairman and council,” Oxendine said. “There are some areas of communication that need to be improved. I want to try to work with all of the districts, the council and the chairman to move the tribe forward.”
Al Locklear, who represents District 3 on the 21-member council, was elected the tribe’s vice speaker. District 3 includes Lumberton and West Howellsville.
Brewington described his time as speaker as a year he will “never forget.”
“It’s been one of the best years of my life, a real experience,” he said. “There’s been ups and downs, but we can build on that.”
Other officers elected Thursday include Jan Lowery, secretary; Anita Hammonds Blanks, treasurer; and Shelley Strickland, parliamentarian.
Committee chairmen were also elected. Chairmen and their committees include: Reginald Oxendine, Constitution and Ordinance; Al Locklear, Economic Development; Frank Cooper, Education; Jarrod Lowery, Federal Recognition; Anita Hammonds Blanks, Finance; Ricky Burnett, Ethics; Jan Lowery, Health and Human Services; Barbara Lowery, Housing; and LeSaundri Hunt, Lumbee Nation Tribal Program.
In other business, council members on Thursday voted to move $250,000 in their budget allotted to build student housing for students attending The University of North Carolina at Pembroke on one lot in Pinecrest Village — a subdivision located adjacent to the Pinecrest Country Club in Lumberton — to be used to provide housing in District 14. District 14 includes areas of Smyrna, Allenton and Fairmont.
Housing Committee Chairman Barbara Lowery said it has not been determined how many duplexes will be built using the $250,000. She also said that the idea of building student housing on the tribe-owned lot at Pinecrest Village is not dead. Student housing, she said, could be the eventual use of the lot.
According to Oxendine, the District 14 housing will be used to help provide housing for those displaced by Hurricane Matthew.
“It will benefit the tribe,” he said.
The council also passed a resolution that allows former Councilman Larry Townsend to represent the tribe on the National Congress of American Indians until his two-year term is up in October. Townsend, who lost his council seat to Larry Chavis in November, currently serves as the Southeast Region vice president for the National Congress of American Indians.
The council will have to select another delegate when Townsend’s term expires. To continue representing the tribe, Townsend would have had to be re-elected to his District 6 seat on the Tribal Council. He lost that seat in November.
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.