Citizens ask Bertie board for help

Published 4:40 pm Saturday, October 10, 2009

WINDSOR – More senior citizens turned to the Bertie County Commissioners for help here Monday morning.

Two weeks after more than two dozen senior citizens came to the board asking for help to save their exercise class, representatives from art and quilting classes pitched their plea for help.

All of the groups are seeking assistance after the North Carolina General Assembly eliminated funds that would help pay for senior citizens to take classes at the local community colleges without paying a fee.

The senior citizens said they had seen the help provided for those in the exercise class. The board provided $9,000 to keep the classes going. Several representatives spoke about the need for assistance for those who couldn’t afford to pay for art and quilting classes as well.

Commission Chairman Norman M. Cherry Sr. asked Bertie County Manager Zee Lamb if he had checked into the issue. Lamb said he had extensive conversations with Martin Community College President Dr. Ann Britt and had found out all of the classes in question were in danger.

Lamb said subsidies had been eliminated for seniors who were taking quilting, art, sewing, exercise, senior computers classes, and cake decorating and flower arrangement.

“The only part the legislature put back into place was for seniors who are taking occupational classes,” Lamb said. “That would mean, for example, if someone needed to go back to work, they could take welding without a cost.”

Commissioner Rick Harrell asked if the director of the senior center would have the information about all the classes that were being taken by senior citizens from Bertie County. Lamb said he believed that information could be gathered.

Commissioner J. Wallace Perry said he believed it would be better to have all of the information brought to the board at once rather than having a group come each month.

“Get with the director and bring back a total figure of what it would cost to save all of the programs,” Perry said. “Then we can see it all at once rather than having a group come this month and another one next and another one the next.”

Lamb said he would gather the information and bring it before the board at their November meeting.

“We want to cover the whole gamut,” Cherry said. “We want to do it for everyone at once.”

Commission Vice Chairman L.C. Hoggard III told the board they would also have to look at offering some help for volunteer firemen if the state continued to require more and more training, but provided less help.