Tyrrell board waiting response from state agencies; Employee of the Year announced

Published 7:18 am Wednesday, February 9, 2022

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At two monthly meetings, the Tyrrell County Board of Commissioners has talked about a house on the Free and Easy Farm property that the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission owns and wants to give the county.

The two-story house, which is close to the end of Fort Landing Road, is surrounded by North Carolina-owned game lands.

Questions swirl around the transaction.

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After a heated discussion in December 2021, the commissioners passed a motion Jan. 11, 2022, to address issues. The motion, directed to the North Carolina Wildlife Commission and the Council of State, asked for a “written proposal stating the size of the property, if there is any money with the property and how much and clear guidelines that the County will follow . . .” The motion finally stated that the commissioners would “avoid any further discussion” until a response is received.

The property size is 1.38 acres, reports county manager David Clegg.

At one point according to minutes, the state offered $200,000 to go with the property. Now the figure mentioned is $250,000, one-time money. But, if the property does come to Tyrrell County, the commissioners would also need to address on-going maintenance.

The property has close by access to Tyrrell County wastewater and water systems.

On Jan. 11, Mike Johnson, representing Cross Trail Outfitters, Inc., appeared before the Tyrrell board. Cross Trail is a Christian youth organization providing opportunities for youth to experience the outdoors and learn about hunting and fishing. The organization has 28 chapters nationally of which 14 are in North Carolina.

For the Cross Trail program, the Tyrrell location has three major areas for hunting to use as classrooms, Texas Plantation, Lantern Acres and the Futch property. Johnson said, “lodging is a problem.” The house at the Free and Easy Farm would provide that lodging once restored with the offered funds from the state and monies raised by Cross Trail Outfitters, reported Johnson.

The transaction envisioned is that Tyrrell County would accept the property and pass it through to Cross Trail Outfitters.

At the Feb. 1 meeting, no update of the Free and Easy Farm proposal was mentioned.

In manager’s business, Clegg reported on unpaid taxes on the county’s real property valuation of $3,460,761.49. The manager reported that the current collection rate is 91.56%. The board received the report and ordered the county’s tax collector to advertise the tax liens.

The state’s General Assembly allocated $5 million to continue the study of the Harbor Town Ferry System, which would include Elizabeth City, Edenton, Plymouth, Columbia and eventually Manteo, according to an update to the board delivered in January.

Nicholas Didow, with University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Business School, leads the project. A trial ferry run is expected in spring 2023.

Tyrrell County has a grant to extend a park pier to take dockage of a 60-foot vessel.

Didow will make a presentation to the Columbia Town Council meeting on Feb. 7. Members of the Tyrrell County board will attend.

The Tyrrell commissioners approved an easement for Piedmont Natural Gas to cross the county’s maintenance garage property at Tyrrell Hall.

The Feb. 1 meeting of the Tyrrell County Board of Commissioners opened with the annual award ceremony for employees. Receiving pins for:

Five years: Raymond Allen, Sheriff’s deputy; Sheriff Kevin Sawyer; and Meredith Shively, Department of Social Services Income Maintenance Caseworker II, handling Adult Medicaid.

Ten years: Major Shively, Chief Deputy Sheriff; and Jacklyn McNutt, Department of Social Services Maintenance Caseworker II, handling Medicaid Transportation and Adult Medicaid.

15 Years: Kristy Honeycutt, Department of Social Services Income Maintenance Supervisor II, supervising the Medicaid staff and maintaining an Adult Medicaid caseload; and Coletta Sykes in the Water Department.

Department of Social Services employees were unable to attend the meeting.

Tyrrell County’s Employee of the Year was announced: Johnny Spencer, the county’s water department director, who retired in December 2021 after 30 years of service.