Road trip

Published 6:31 am Monday, March 18, 2013

WINDSOR – The Bertie County Board of Commissioners will take their meetings to the people.

As discussed in previous meetings, the commissioners agreed at their most recent assemblage on March 4 to move eight upcoming meetings to various locations in the county. The first of those meetings is tentatively scheduled to begin on April 15 and all involve the board’s normal second meeting of each month. The Bertie leaders traditionally meet twice a month – the first Monday (10 a.m.) and the third Monday (7 p.m.).

“You have been talking about holding your night meetings out in the communities of BertieCounty,” said County Manager Morris Rascoe, reminding the commissioners of previous discussions on this issue. “The tentative schedule we’ve put together of the potential locations for these meetings was made so these meetings were spread out over the county.”

The tentative schedule is as follows (all meetings at 7 p.m.):

April 15 at the Powellsville Town Hall;

May 20 at the AskewvilleTown Hall;

June 17 at the Kelford Town Hall;

July 15 at the Colerain Town Hall;

Aug. 19 at the Blue Jay Fire Department;

Sept. 16 at the Aulander Town Hall;

Oct. 21 at the Midway Community Building or fire station; and

Nov. 18 at Mt. Ararat Church.

Misty Gibbs, Assistant County Manager and Clerk to the Board, said that all the meeting locations are tentative at this time.

“I will need to confirm each location before we can actually use it for our night meeting,” she stated.

“The reason we proposed this is to get closer to the citizens in the various townships,” said Commissioner Ron Wesson. “We can argue that any citizen has the right to come here to our meetings in Windsor; we have an open door policy. But I think we need to be proactive by taking our meetings on the road so the citizens there can talk to us about any particular issues they have in those townships.”

Wesson pointed out that this mobile version of commissioner meetings has been used in the past.

“This time I would urge us to advertise this strongly in those townships, with the citizens of those townships so they’ll be aware,” Wesson added. “We need to go further than just advertising these meetings in the newspaper or on the county’s website. We need to go to the churches, etc. to spread the word so that the citizens will turn out and we can get feedback from them.”

Commissioner Rick Harrell recognized former Bertie Commission Chairwoman Patricia Ferguson who was in the audience. He noted that she was on the board the last time the commissioners took their meetings on the road and asked her for any advice on how the current board could better perform this task.

“I applaud all of you for considering your constituency at this level,” Ferguson said. “We sent out invitations to members of our constituency to make sure they attended every board meeting. We didn’t just leave that for our night meetings. We would randomly pull up 25 names from the Elections Board list and send personal invitations.”

She further suggested that in an effort to reach more than faith-based citizens, perhaps the commissioners could ask a younger citizen to volunteer their time to get the meeting message to that generation via Facebook and Twitter.

“You want young people engaged in this process and by upgrading the technology tools you traditionally use will help speak the language our young people are accustomed to today through social media,” she noted.

The meetings will be officially advertised once the potential meeting locations are confirmed.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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