Dare commissioners concerned about oversight of long-term care facilities

Published 6:56 am Sunday, November 7, 2021

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Dare County Board of Commissioners expressed concern over the lack of community oversight of the county’s two long-term care facilities.

Two of three volunteer Community Advisory Committee members for the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program have resigned. The members are appointed by the commissioners.

In response to a form question “Do you have any concerns regarding your ability to serve as a CAC volunteer,” Mary F. Pendill wrote “Yes. Even with more training, we would be doing almost the same job as an ombudsman, but with less training and no liability coverage.”

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Volunteer training requirements have increased under mandates from the Administration for Community Living, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Commissioner Jim Tobin serves as the board’s representative for the program, which works to resolve problems and complaints from residents of long-term care facilities.

Duties include visits to the long-term care facilities in Dare County.

Since March 2020, the advisory committee has not been permitted in Peak Resources or Spring Arbor. Tobin reported the restriction was due to coronavirus, but the result is that the committee has not been able to do its job. “It’s statewide,” said Tobin.

“This is crazy,” intoned commissioner Rob Ross.

“We can’t let this continue to fester,” said commissioner Danny Couch.

“This sort of protection is essential,” said Ross.

“This is just not right,” said Tobin, who will draft a resolution to send to state elected officials.

Also resigning due to a conflict was Mary Jernigan.

In other matters, the commissioners approved recommendations from the Dare County Tourism Board for 2021 Tourism Impact Grants, set two public hearings on zoning text amendments and approved budget amendments for the College of The Albemarle project.

This year’s Tourism Impact Grants totaled $525,948, reported Lee Nettles, executive director of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau. The grants were approved by the Tourism Board and Dare’s commissioners were asked to consent to the distribution, which was done unanimously.

The seven organizations asked for more than was available and requested amounts were reduced to 85% except for one project in Nags Head. Projects funded include:

– Chicamacomico Historical Association: $38,760 (requested $45,000) to restore siding and roof of 1911 cookhouse.

– Friends of Jockey’s Ridge: $20,280 (requested $23,858.79) to improve park access for mobility-challenged visitors by purchasing a second UTV.

– Nags Head (Town of): $250,000 (requested $250,000) Epstein Street Public Beach Access. Replace bathhouse, dune walkover, upgrade onsite wastewater and add benches, bike racks and garage for storage and more.

– Nags Head (Town of): $37,898 (requested $88,704). Build 350 linear feet of five-foot wide sidewalk from Wrightsville Ave. along Bonnett St. and build 300 linear feet of sidewalk along Barnes St., from Hwy. 158 to S. Meekins Ave. to connect to existing sidewalk.

– North Carolina Coastal Federation: $127,500 (requested $150,000). Jockey’s Ridge Shoreline Stabilization and Public Access. Implement an adaptive shoreline management plan.

– Outer Banks Forever: $21,250 (requested $25,000). Aviation Trail Through Time Education Exhibit. Create and install 10 interpretive exhibits from First Flight Boulder to Big Kill Devil Hill and Wright Brothers Memorial Monument.

– Southern Shores (Town of): $30,260 (requested $35,600). Purchase traffic data software to summarize traffic patterns and where vehicles cut-through residential streets.

The Tourism Board’s Tourism Impact Grants are given on a reimbursable basis and with tiered matching required from awardee. Awarded amount below $50,000 requires no match; from $50,000 to $125,000, a 25% match; and over $125,000, at least a 50% match.

Two public hearings on zoning text amendments were set for Nov. 15, 2021 at 5 p.m. Dare County’s Planning Board reviewed the two requests:

– Adding virtual and off-site check-in and management services to the definition of hotel and motel. The amended zoning requirement was written in 2002. Richard Fertig made the request.

– OT Enterprises LLC, which owns the long-vacant movie theater at Hatteras Island Plaza in Avon, is asking to amend the multifamily dwelling density of the R-3 district and the C-2 district regulations that apply to commercial group developments that existed prior to 1992. The plaza was built in 1988. Use-specific zoning was adopted in 1992 for Avon. The plans are to tear down the theater and build multi-family housing at an increased density.

The chiller at College of The Albemarle’s Professional Arts Building was originally scheduled to be replaced in 2024. However, the chiller needs replacing now. Dare County approached Barnhill Contracting, the builder of the college’s new academic building, and asked if the contractor could add on replacing the chiller, two boilers and three pumps and the control system in the Professional Arts Building. Barnhill agreed and will install the same equipment in the existing building as in the new building.

The commissioners approved change order #027 for the control system at $133,768 and #028 for the HVAC equipment at $204,715, adopted the budget amendment for the Capital Investment Fund and an amendment to the COA capital project ordinance and authorized county manager Robert L. Outten to sign the change orders.

Outten reported that the county is working to reopen recycling “at least at a limited scale” throughout the county, maybe in November. He stressed that no dumpsters will be available and said if the system is abused with dumping and without staff to clean up, the county will likely close the sites down.

Outten presented a document for the University of North Carolina School of Government Development Finance Initiative and the commissioners agreed he could sign it. Outten said the document means “when you’re finished, you’re finished.” Board Chairman Robert L. Woodard said he was not happy with the sense of urgency exhibited by the group.

The next meeting is Nov. 15, 2021 starting at 5 p.m.