DSS Board increases by two

Published 10:59 am Sunday, November 22, 2009

GATESVILLE – Changes are in store for the board governing the Gates County Department of Social Services.

At their meeting earlier this month, the Gates County Board of Commissioners approved, by resolution, increasing the DSS Board from three to five members.

This move comes in the wake of the county’s 2008-09 fiscal year audit that revealed several financial violations within DSS. That audit discovered numerous internal control weaknesses and General Statute violations and Administrative Code violations regarding the DSS Trust Fund.

DSS control falls under the auspices of its own three-member board and not the county board of commissioners. That fact prompted the commissioners to approve a resolution that basically addresses the lack of local authority given to Gates County management to ensure that DSS is complying with county directives, general statutes and Social Security Administration rules.

Additionally, the resolution, following NC General Statute 108A-5, empowered the commissioners to increase the DSS Board from three to five members. The appointments are for three years.

That increase prompted a debate among the commissioners regarding who would fill the two new seats on the DSS Board.

Commission Chairman Henry Jordan said he would like to wait until the commissioners’ next night meeting (scheduled for this week; Monday, Nov. 16) to discuss filling the new seats.

“I have a nomination right now, if that’s in order,” Commissioner Graham Twine said. “John Hora is my nomination.”

Hora resides in the Eure community and is retired from International Paper in Franklin, Va. where he spent 35 years in financial management.

Jordan followed Twine’s nomination by suggesting himself as a DSS Board member.

“I think Mr. Hora is a fine person, but I haven’t had an opportunity to find a person (that may like to serve on the DSS Board),” Commissioner Carlton Nickens said.

“John is very qualified for this position,” Twine noted.

Further discussion centered on Jordan’s possible seat on the DSS Board, thus giving the commissioners a direct link to DSS. It was noted that former Gates County Commissioner William Harrell is a current DSS Board member. He was appointed to that position while serving as a commissioner.

“He (Harrell) was allowed to continue to serve on the DSS Board, even after he was no longer a commissioner, because he expressed a desire to remain on that board,” Jordan stated.

It was noted that Harrell’s term on the DSS Board expires in June, 2010.

Twine put a motion on the floor, one calling for Hora’s immediate appointment to the DSS Board and would allow Jordan to take over Harrell’s seat effective next June. Nickens offered a second and the measure was unanimously approved.

The second of the two new seats on the DSS Board will be filled, by nomination of a Gates County citizen, by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.