LUMBERTON — Robeson County’s successful Family Treatment Court could become even better if a federal grant to expand the program is awarded, a local judge told the Robeson County Board of Commissioners on Monday.
J. Stanley Carmical, chief District Court judge, asked the county’s help in the pursuit of a federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant that would provide the court up to $425,000 per year for five years. The county would just serve as the applicant for the grant, Carmical told the board, and no local money would be needed as a match.
Carmical said the money would be used to expand services for children and families struggling with substance-use disorders in Robeson County. He said that participants in the Family Treatment Court program are always “moms and dads.”
“Expansion of these services would provide the treatment needed so that children can be raised by their parents,” said Carmical.
According to the judge, the deadline to apply is March.
Carmical praised the commissioners for their past support of the Family Treatment Court program. He said that in 2012, when the state ceased funding for the courts, the commissioners stepped up and continued to support the local program.
“This is the body that kept us in business,” Carmical said. “Without the help of the commissioners we would not be here today.”
Carmical said that the local court has been successful at reducing the cost to the county’s Department of Social Services for providing care for the children caught up in family substance abuse issues.
“The most recent numbers I have show 221 children in the welfare system, with 173 of these children in foster care,” he said. “Those children in foster care are costing the county $97,000 a month and that’s a lot for a rural county to have to pay.”
The eight commissioners voted unanimously for the county to serve as the applicant for the grant.
Hurricane Matthew was also on the mind of commissioners as they worked through their agenda.
Ken Windley, a former Robeson County manager and chairman of the Robeson County Disaster Recovery Committee, asked the board for a one-time $13,000 donation and $35,000 annually for his committee to continue its work to help victims of the storm.
Windley said that his committee of about 40 members from 20 organizations is going to look at problems encountered by renters and how to address their recovery efforts.
“There are still about 250 families in hotels with no place to go,” Windley said. “There are a lot of people staying in private homes with no place to go.”
The commissioners agreed to the funding, but said that they want a review of services being provided storm victims to ensure there is no duplication of services.
“We need to make sure to maximize our services,” said Commissioner Raymond Cummings.
John Dunlap, with the nonprofit Seed Harvest and Development Inc., asked the commissioners to help fund his organization’s Free Store on East Fourth Street in Lumberton. He asked that the county fund 6.9 percent, or $12,000, of his group’s budget.
According to Dunlap, more than 1,000 people have come through the store seeking free items to help them recover from Hurricane Matthew.
“We were one of the first distribution centers in Robeson County to be on the ground before others arrived to help,” he said.
The commissioners did not discuss the request or act on it.
In other business, the commissioners:
— Heard a brief presentation from Dr. David Brooks, who spoke on behalf of the Robeson County Veterinarian Medical Association, about animal health issues and clinics that are coming up in the near future.
Brooks said that the county’s semi-annual SNIP program is being held March 6 to March 18. The discounted spay and neuter clinic will be available to all pet owners, without regard to income or where they live. To make an appointment, pet owners should call their own veterinarian.
Brooks said there also will be a countywide rabies clinic on April 14 and April 15. The cost to pet owners will be just $8, he said.
— Appointed the follow people to the county’s Board of Equalization and Review: Buddy Bodiford, District 6; Robert Moore, District 1; William Oxendine, District 4; and Bobby Locklear, District 5.
— Heard a brief report from Commissioner Roger Oxendine about the need for rumble strips at the intersections of N.C. 130 and N.C. 904, and Raynham and Iona roads.
Oxendine requested the board’s clerk to forward a letter to the state Department of Transportation asking for the rumble strips to be installed.
“All I want is to slow traffic down,” he said, adding that there had been numerous accidents at the intersections.
This is the second time that Oxendine has made the request to the DOT.
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.