‘At the table’

Published 12:25 pm Tuesday, August 6, 2013

AHOSKIE – “If you don’t go, you don’t know.”

That’s the logic which drives Howard Hunter III, a longtime Hertford County Commissioner who is currently serving his year as President of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC).

Hunter represented both groups in late July by attending the 2013 National Association of Counties (NACo) annual conference, held this year in Tarrant County, Texas.

“I need to update my if you don’t go, you don’t know saying with, if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu,” Hunter said. “I can brag a little bit because North Carolina was at the table at the NACo conference. Our presence was so strong that the national president appointed two more commissioners from our state to the national board, now giving us a total of six representatives there.”

While some believe that spending the money to attend such an event is a wasted investment, Hunter begs to differ.

“It’s an investment everyone needs to make,” he noted. “You learn so much by sharing plans and programs that your county, your state is involved with. You listen, you learn new things, or new ways to do the same things and you bring those back to your county. In the end the money you spend attending a conference such as this is small in comparison to what you save by implementing the new ideas or programs you learned about.”

As far as how Hertford County stacks up nationally in this era of financial belt tightening, Hunter said his home county is fairing well.

“We’ve made some cuts, but none have impacted the overall way we do business when it comes to providing needed services to our citizens,” he said. “Upon listening to other commissioners from other states talk, you realize just how good things are in Hertford County. So many of our fellow commissioners in other states have been forced to slash their budgets beyond the bare bone; some are making it mandatory that county employees take unpaid days off, or have drastically reduced the level of services they offer.”

During the conference, Hunter and NACo President Chris Rodgers signed a Partnership Agreement that will enhance the relationship between the state and national organization. The agreement was a product of an initiative during Hunter’s year as NCACC President.

“NACo and the NCACC are great organizations, and I believe that by working more closely together, both can provide even better services to county commissioners in North Carolina,” said Hunter.

Hunter added that NACo took notice of the way the NCACC works closely with its counties and with its state legislature.

“I feel we’re leading other states in those two areas,” Hunter stressed. “NACo really likes the way we’re doing things.”

Hunter served as Reading Clerk during the national conference. As reading clerk, Hunter called each state’s name and helped tally the votes during the election for NACo Second Vice President.

“Just like any election, there are tense moments,” Hunter said. “I lightened the mood and interjected some humor in the process in order to lessen the tension of that particular portion of the conference.”

More than 2,000 elected and appointed county officials, exhibitors, speakers and guests from across the country met July 19–22 at the annual conference. There the group worked to establish national policies affecting counties and work collaboratively to find innovative solutions to challenges facing American communities.

Rodgers said NACo’s annual conference is the most important gathering of the year for county officials.

“The CountySolutions and Idea Marketplace offers the best opportunity for leaders in county government to determine our federal legislative priorities and set a course of action to meet the challenges facing the communities we serve,” Rodgers said.

Featured guest speakers at the conference’s general sessions include U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; J.R. Martinez, army veteran, actor, author and motivational speaker, and Matthew K. Rose, chairman and CEO, BNSF Railway Company.

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.

email author More by Cal