After 24 years of service, Yvette Davis retired from the Granville County Department of Social Services (DSS) as of Feb. 28, 2019. She was recognized by the Granville County Board of Commissioners at the March 18 meeting at the Expo and Convention Center.
With her start in the Work First Program as a Social Worker II, Davis had worked with DSS since February of 1995. In 1998 she was promoted to Social Worker III in the Child Protective Services (CPS) unit, transitioning to Child Welfare Foster Care in 1999. There she made an impression on administrators with her thoroughness, adherence to Child Welfare policies and dedication to her assigned clients and their families.
In May of 2006, Davis was promoted to an Investigator, Assessment and Treatment Social Worker within the Child Protection Services unit. She continued her strong attachment to working with dysfunctional families and broadened her expertise of working with families by helping willing families become foster parents.
While conducting child abuse/neglect/dependency investigations, testifying in court and spending numerous off-duty hours on “on call” assignments, Davis was able to obtain a Master’s degree in Psychology with an emphasis in General Psychology.
She was recognized for her service at the March 18 meeting by Commissioners Tony Cozart and Sue Hinman, who recognized her efforts on behalf of the Board and presented her with a plaque for her dedicated service to Granville County.
National Professional Social Worker Month is celebrated each year in March. It’s an opportunity to spotlight the profession and the contributions social workers make every day.
According to Joe Tartamella, Supervisor for Adult Services, Foster Care and Adoptions for the Granville County Department of Social Services, local social workers provide services to meet the needs of community members who want and need assistance, including those who may not yet know how to ask for or accept help from anyone. More than 80 social workers are trained and on hand to work directly with Granville County residents or to provide referrals to those who may be facing issues of substance abuse, domestic violence, sexual and physical abuse, parent/caretaker neglect, dependency, exploitation, mental health issues and economic hardships. Of all the workers in DSS, there are 10 in Child Support Services, 20 in Direct Services, 51 in Economic Benefits/Income Maintenance and the rest in administrative and support positions.
“Our social workers are the front line, boots-on-the-ground-type people,” Tartamella explains, “and requests for assistance are made every day. For most all that seek our services, we are generally their last hope in their journey to survive.”
With a goal to “enhance the quality of life in the community through programs and services to help the vulnerable, the aged, the young, the sick and the economically disadvantaged,” the Granville County Department of Social Services exists to serve local individuals and families. From government aid to assistance for low-income households, disabled individuals, seniors and dependent children, social workers provide services that include medical, financial, nutritional and emergency assistance, as well as help with day care costs, the coordination of transportation services and the investigation of fraudulent practices.
Assistance begins at the reception desk of the Granville County Department of Social Services, which is where the initial contact often begins.
“Every other department depends on them to link the people asking for assistance to the right people to serve them,” Tartamella explains. From there, daily work includes accessing the situation, developing plans to assist and working with families to meet their goals/objectives.
Many of the Social Services staff are office-based, serving Granville County citizens in need of public assistance programs such as Medicaid, Work First, Food and Nutrition Services (Food Stamps and SNAP) as well as energy programs, child care referrals, child support services, emergency assistance or other programs and services that are available to eligible Granville County residents.
Other social workers may work either in the office or in the field to provide assistance through Child Welfare Services or through the Adult Services unit.
The Child Welfare Services Unit accepts and responds to reports of child abuse, neglect and dependency, evaluating levels of risk to children through assessments and investigations. Appropriate action is then taken to ensure the safety and well-being of the child through In-Home Treatment (case management and skill development services) or by providing out-of-home foster care services, with a goal to establish a permanent living arrangement for the children. Options considered include re-unification with parents, custody or guardianship arrangements, or adoption.
The Adult Services unit locates, coordinates and monitors services to provide preventative, supportive and/or protective services to adults and families needing assistance in learning to function efficiently and independently. These services include Adult Protective Services, Day care and Day Health Services, Adult Placement Services, Guardianship Services, Representative Payee Services, Case Management and In-Home Aide Services. The goal is to provide the tools needed to ensure efficiency and independent living in their own environment and in the community.
The Granville County Department of Social Services also works in conjunction with social workers from Granville Medical Center, all three Granville County Senior Centers, the Harold Sherman Adult Day program, adult and family care homes, Granville County schools, home health agencies and the many clinical social workers in the mental health system.
“We wear many hats,” Tartamella explains, “and often work long hours to make sure we serve our clients.”
For those who may need assistance with blind and visually impaired challenges, the DHHS Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired has a social worker who is available on-site at Granville County DSS two days per week.
Anyone wishing to pursue a career as a social worker is reminded that this profession is for people who are called to serve. What is most needed, Tartamella says, is a desire to help others succeed.
“To be in a service profession,” he says, “you have to have a love and respect for human dignity, as well as compassion and the ability to use it. You also have to be ready and able to set and enforce hard lines of accountability. You have to be a dedicated soul.”
The Granville County Department of Social Services is located at 410 West Spring Street in Oxford and is open from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information about the Granville County Department of Social Services and the role of social workers in our community, visit:
As the only county in the state with a designated recycling program in the school system, Granville County has piloted several successful programs that make an environmental impact while providing an educational recycling message to our students. Since the recycling program was initiated in 2010, projects have been put into place that not only save money and put good habits into practice, but have moved Granville County into the top twenty in the state for its recycling efforts.
“Granville County is a pioneer when it comes to recycling,” said Recycling Coordinator Teresa Baker. “We want to teach our students that this is not a disposable society.”
Baker’s position of Recycling Coordinator is a shared one between Granville County Government and Granville County Public Schools, where she has worked closely with school custodians and with the child nutrition program to implement the recycling programs used every day. Although the recycling of milk cartons and other items have been in place since the 2010/2011 school year, as well as a transition from disposable lunch trays to re-useable lunch ones, Baker says that there was a desire to “do more.” The use of re-usable utensils has also been implemented to reduce waste as more menu choices are provided which offer healthier options. Unopened, pre-packaged snacks that are not consumed are also made available at “Grab and Go” stations or used in the “Backpack Buddies” program for students in need.
“We’re teaching kids to be responsible for their waste by realizing they can take re-usable trays and utensils to the dishwasher and by emptying their milk cartons and plastic drink bottles into five-gallon buckets with strainers for a clean collection process,” Baker noted. “Working with our school custodians and the child nutrition team, we’re making the idea of re-using and recycling a part of their daily routine – creating good habits our students can use throughout their lifetimes.”
Other ongoing projects include the recycling and re-use of office furniture; setting up collection boxes for scrap metal at the bus garage and at the maintenance department; recycling obsolete electronics and used textbooks; collecting used markers for recycling through Crayola; recycling fluorescent light bulbs and pallets; setting up collection boxes for clothing; utilizing recycle carts and dumpsters for aluminum cans and cardboard; and taking advantage of other “green” opportunities.
These projects have resulted in tremendous cost savings as Waste Industries, one of the recycling program’s greatest allies, provides a monthly report to monitor the school system’s progress. As a direct result of these recycling efforts, approximately $90,000 is saved in trash pickup each year. From June 2017 to July 2018, for example, a total of more than 177 tons of recyclables were collected by Waste Industries alone. In addition, almost 50,000 pounds of electronics was collected by Power House Electronic Recycling; Metech Electronic Recycling reported 1,455 pounds collected; more than 47,000 pounds of clothing were recycled by Friendship Used Clothing; Recycling Management Resources reported 5,000 pounds of outdated textbooks collected; more than 20,000 pounds of junk vehicles were scrapped at CJ Iron and Metal; Pallet One reported 2,200 pounds of pallets recycled; and Shred Ace collected 3,760 pounds of shredded paper.
According to Baker, all funds derived from the sale of scrap metal, used clothing and other items is put right back into our schools, helping purchase new equipment, new books, and even new recycling bins.
Expanding on that idea, a “Maker Space” has been introduced to keep young minds engaged by re-purposing and re-using teaching tools no longer needed, such as leftover art supplies, games with missing pieces, etc. that would have most likely ended up in the trash. Butner-Stem Elementary has recently opened their new Maker Space for creativity, with other schools soon to follow.
“We’re trying to spread the message that recycling, re-use or re-purposing should be our first action when something does not have any use to us,” Baker noted. “We’ve got to teach our students to be responsible and to be good stewards of the environment.”
To learn more about recycling in Granville County, contact Baker by phone at 919-725-1417 or by email at email@example.com.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday, March 12 for Granville County’s new Law Enforcement Center and Animal Shelter. Space needs studies had determined that the facilities currently in use were no longer adequate to meet the county’s needs. Situated just off I-85, the new location at 525 New Commerce Drive in Oxford is easily accessible from Butner, Creedmoor and Oxford.
The new Law Enforcement Center will include the Granville County Sheriff’s Office, the county’s Emergency Communications Center (9-1-1 Call Center) and a Detention Center all under one roof, for a total of more than 88,000 square feet. Initially, the detention center will include 176 beds for both men and women, with an ultimate capacity of 250 beds if additional housing units are added to meet future needs. This more spacious facility will eliminate the need to transport inmates to other facilities, reducing risk and saving costs by eliminating out-of-county housing.
A separate pre-engineered Sheriff’s vehicle storage area and warehouse will also be provided on site.
The new Granville County Animal Shelter will include additional kennel space and administrative offices for Animal Shelter staff and Animal Control, combining several existing facilities into one. Totaling 8,500 square feet, the new Shelter will more than double its current size and will provide kennel space for 40 to 60 dogs and 40 to 60 cats, a dramatic increase in the number that is presently housed. In addition, the new shelter will have more outdoor space for livestock and for exercise areas. The goal is to increase adoptions and decrease the number of animals euthanized due to space restrictions.
Foundation work for the new Law Enforcement Center started Feb. 8. Grading continues for areas of the Animal Shelter, entrances, parking areas and surrounding open spaces. Building foundations will continue with an estimated completion date of August, 2019. Although there have been some temporary delays due to weather conditions, all work is scheduled to be completed in April of 2020.
The Sheriff’s Office is expected to transition in their new location in July of 2020, with the Animal Shelter to move into their new facility (estimated) the following September. Move-in date for the Detention Center is expected to be December of 2020.
Information packets about this project are available through email. Please send requests to firstname.lastname@example.org for a digital copy or to have a copy reserved for you to pick up from the County Manager’s Office, 141 Williamsboro Street in Oxford.
An anonymous donation to the Humane Society of Granville County has paved the way for the purchase of a livestock trailer to be used by Granville County Animal Control. The 16-foot trailer will allow animal control officers to better handle the collection and transport of loose livestock, live animal rescue and large animal cruelty cases.
The Granville County Animal Management Division exists to protect the public from incidence and harm from animals and to protect domestic animals from neglect and abuse. Animal Management also shelters strays and unwanted animals, provides proper living conditions, sanitation, nourishment and basic health care while making every attempt to re-unite these animals with their owners or determine re-homing options.
This protection to residents and to animals is an integral part of the mission statement of Granville County Animal Management, according to Director Matt Katz. With several reports of roaming sheep, cows, horses, pigs and other large animals in the past several months, the recently purchased Adams Overnighter will enable officers to better adhere to this directive as they collect and transport loose and stray animals of all sizes, as well as those that have been abused or neglected.
“This spacious new trailer is definitely an asset to our animal control team,” Katz said. “A huge ‘thank you’ to this generous donor and to the Humane Society of Granville County.”
For more information about the services provided by Granville County Animal Management, visit www.granvillecounty.org.
ATTENTION MEDICAID BENEFICIARIES: NOTICE OF YOUR RIGHTS UNDER HAWKINS v. COHEN
Hawkins v. Cohen (5:17-CV-581 E.D.N.C.) is a federal lawsuit filed in 2017 on behalf of Medicaid beneficiaries in North Carolina. The case concerns improper terminations of Medicaid benefits.
The Court hearing the case has certified it as a class action. This means that the case is to help not just the people who filed the case but other Medicaid beneficiaries whose Medicaid has been or will be terminated improperly.
The Court has ordered the N.C. Medicaid agency to stop terminations or reductions of Medicaid benefits until eligibility under all Medicaid categories has been considered and advance notice of the right to a hearing has been mailed to you. For example, if you get Medicaid based on having a minor child who is turning eighteen years old, your county Department of Social Services must consider whether you are disabled before they stop your Medicaid.
If you have any questions about this lawsuit or about your rights, you may contact the attorneys who filed the case, the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy. You can reach these lawyers by calling this toll free number: 1-800-936-4971. You can also send the lawyers an email at Hawkinsinfo@charlottelegaladvocacy.org.
You also may contact these lawyers if you want to report that you lost your Medicaid without a decision that you were no longer eligible for Medicaid under any category or without receiving advance written notice that your Medicaid would stop. There is no cost to you for any help that these lawyers provide to you.
At their Dec. 3 meeting, Granville County Commissioners approved the transfer of a 2012 Dodge Charger from the Granville County Sheriff’s Office to Vance-Granville Community College’s policing staff.
Vance-Granville Community College had requested consideration of assistance through the donation of surplus resources to aid in their policing efforts. The donated vehicle was one of two that had been declared surplus and were scheduled for sale through online auction.
North Carolina General Statutes allow counties to transfer property between units of government. This donation is the result of a partnership with VGCC to help meet the needs of our community and our students.
Pictured are Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins and Sean Newton of Vance-Granville Community College at recent vehicle transfer.
The Granville County Board of Commissioners met for its annual retreat on Thursday, Feb. 21 and Friday, Feb. 22. The session, which provided an opportunity for Commissioners to hear updates on developments pertaining to the county’s five-year strategic plan, was held at the Granville County Convention and Expo Center in Oxford.
Health Director Lisa Harrison of Granville-Vance Public Health kicked off the presentation schedule, providing an update on the condition of the building currently used by the local Health Department. Citing structural issues after 42 years of use, Harrison noted that the foundation is sinking in one corner of the facility, causing walls to crack and ceilings to be compromised. A request was made to consider a relocation from 101 Hunt Drive. Several sites are being evaluated and will be brought back to the Board for consideration.
Planning/Inspections and Transportation
Planning Director Barry Baker and Development Services Director Scott Phillips provided information relating to current and future planning activities. Baker noted in his presentation that total zoning permits had seen a steady increase since 2014, with most permits for single family dwellings in 2018 being issued for the Brassfield Township. Almost 400 new lots – to be located in planned subdivisions in Butner and Creedmoor – were approved in 2018 and more are expected to be approved in 2019 , it was reported. As the East End Connector nears completion – which will connect I-40 to the Raleigh-Durham Airport – this growth is expected to continue.
Transportation Planner Justin Jorgensen reported that projects pertaining to the NC 56 and NC 50 Corridors are also planned in the summer of 2019 and in 2020, and that sidewalk and greenway projects are underway in all municipalities.
Commercial construction has also risen drastically since 2014, from more than $14 million in value in 2014 to an approximately $43 million value in 2018.
Capital Improvement Projects
Exterior painting of the Granville County Courthouse has been completed, with work on the windows, cornice, soffit, bell tower and foundation stucco coming in at less than projected cost. Duct cleaning and mold abatement was also completed for the HVAC system and equipment, Phillips reported.
Site work has begun for the new Law Enforcement Center and Animal Shelter, to be located at 525 New Commerce Drive in Oxford. Stormwater infrastructure is now 60 percent complete, according to Phillips, with an estimated completion date of August 2019 for this phase of the project. Water and sewer taps have been completed and piping has been installed to the project site, with a plumbing and electrical rough-in scheduled for April. Grading continues for the new Animal Shelter. Due to weather and soil conditions, work had been temporarily delayed but the project is still expected to be completed in April 2020. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for March 12, 2019 at 2 p.m.
Exterior renovation on the building located behind the Courthouse, 122 Williamsboro Street, was also discussed. In 2013, the county retained professional engineers to evaluate the roof and exterior wall system. Basic needs identified in this report included removal of the existing exterior coating – as well as the deteriorated mortar – and replacing existing window and door sealants before exterior paint could be applied. Repairs were also recommended for the exterior fire escape stairs. Funding for this restoration was projected to be around $375,000. With a plan to move the Planning/Inspections office to the current Sheriff’s Office after the new Law Enforcement Center is completed – and to relocate Child Support Services – other options will also be considered for this building.
Work at the scale house located at the Butner Convenience Site was also completed in 2018 as a new 560 square foot building was added. Building and site improvements were also recently completed on this site, Phillips noted. Work at the Granville County Landfill is also substantially complete, with a C&D closure certification being submitted to the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality for review and acceptance.
An update on the Phase III expansion of the Granville Athletic Park (GAP) and the grant funding tied to that project were discussed by Management Analyst Charla Duncan. Granville County had secured a National Parks Service Land and Water Conservation Fund grant for $250,000, which was added to $500,000 sum already set aside towards this project. The expansion will encompass approximately 12 additional acres for planned use and for future expansion. Added to the park will be six tennis courts, two sand volleyball courts, an additional picnic shelter and restrooms, a paved walking trail, an all-inclusive playground area, three horseshoes pits, nine additional disc golf targets, open green space and parking.
The design schematic has now been completed, Phillips added. Once the proposed site plan is approved, construction documents and permit applications are expected to be completed by May 2019 with construction anticipated to begin in August of this year.
A partnership with the Granville County United Way has resulted in the 2018 addition of outdoor classroom space, little free libraries, a sound garden, a butterfly garden and other amenities to the already existing acreage. The county has plans to pursue additional grant funding from the United States Tennis Association.
Since 2017, approximately 20 new businesses have opened in the county including RiceWrap Foods, according to Economic Development Director Harry Mills, who added that opportunities are also being created by expansions at Revlon, Shalag and Altec. Mills noted that the county’s re-designation as a Tier II county would be a factor in future grant eligibility. The N.C. Department of Commerce annually ranks the state’s 100 counties using factors of unemployment rate, household income, population growth and adjusted property tax base, assigning each county a tier designation. Granville County was ranked among Tier III counties last year which included Orange, Wake and Durham counties. During the grant application process, priority is often given to Tier I and Tier II counties, Mills reminded.
Granville County’s new tourism campaign was presented by Tourism Director Angela Allen and by Corey Hughes of the Hughes Marketing Group, who has been contracted to help develop a marketing plan. Using a survey of residents and visitors as a guide, it was determined that the area’s relaxed and hospitable lifestyle are an unexpected advantage, leading to a campaign centered around the area’s open spaces, welcoming people and close proximity to larger communities. With a tagline of “Uniquely Carolina,” the new campaign includes a promotion focused on gathering places and “hometown” living.
HR Directors Wendy Pennington and Justin Ayscue provided information pertaining to employee turnover in Granville County Government, which has seen a steady decline since FY 2014/2015. In the past few years, a 401K match has been implemented, as well as changes to employee benefits such as a 401K match, an enhanced wellness program and other upgrades. A recommendation was made to implement an employee longevity pay plan to help increase retention. It was also noted that an option to apply for employment online has dramatically increased the number of applications received for vacant positions.
Social Services Director Lou Bechtel presented information on upcoming challenges, citing a need for an “on call” staff member for after-hours assistance and anticipated staff additions if Medicaid expansion is approved by the General Assembly. Staff members recently completed NC Fast training and will be “prepared to meet the challenge” of this new program. Bechtel said. Additional technology was requested to initiate the NC Fast mobile applications that will help serve residents with their immediate needs.
Granville County Senior Centers (3) have served almost 12,000 congregate meals from July 2018 to January 2019, Senior Services Director Kathy May reported, in addition to approximately 7,000 meals to homebound residents. Trans-portation, which includes a fixed bus route, medical transport, etc., are also provided and are funded through various grant sources, with total one-way trips numbering more than 16,000 last year. Through the Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP), 743 Medicare recipients were provided assistance over the past year. Those choosing the option to change their Medicare Part D plans during open enrollment had a total combined savings of $458,387.
The Creative Lifelong Learning program, offered through the Senior Center in Oxford, has “exceeded all expectations,” May said, with charter membership numbering 250+. More than two dozen classes have been scheduled during the Fall and Spring semesters.
A summary report for 2018, provided by Sheriff Brin Wilkins, showed a total of approximately 8,000 incidents and arrests through the Sheriff’s Office alone. Across the county, more than 54,000 emergency calls were dispatched last year from the Sheriff’s Office, the county’s five municipalities, Highway Patrol, local fire departments, Granville EMS, Animal Control and other agencies.
Trent Brummitt, Manager of the Sheriff’s Office Emergency Communications Center, reported that from July 2018 to January 2019, more than 36,000 calls for service had been made. As the county’s population grows, calls to the 9-1-1 Center have seen a steady increase, Brummitt noted, with the highest number of calls received in 2016. This was the year that the Oxford Police Department consolidated its dispatch services with the county’s 9-1-1 Center. Now at its most optimum level, staffing for this department has numbered 18 employees since 2011.
A report from the Detention Center by Sgt. Edward Cash focused on mental health issues which impact Granville County inmates. Through a new telemedicine program, inmates can be evaluated on site and offered treatment and follow up, eliminating the need for transport to other facilities. Since September, the program’s professional psychiatrist has identified 25 inmates who were suffering from depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse and other issues.
Finance Director Steve McNally provided a summarized review of the county’s financial status, noting that property taxes collected to date ($36.7 million) are at 89 percent of total budget and one percent higher than at this time last year. Property taxes make up 65 percent of the county’s general fund, McNally reported, adding that Granville County’s revenues and expenditures are “in line” with budget expectations as of Jan. 31, 2019.
The preliminary budget is to be submitted to Commissioners by May 6, according to County Manager Michael Felts, with the budget to be finalized in June. Felts also provided a progress report of projects underway and under review, which includes digital policy updates, a focus on strengthening partnerships, continued economic development, school renovations and financing, advancements in broadband and other priorities.
Granville County is now in the final year of the current five-year strategic plan and will be working with staff in October and November 2019 to develop a new five-year-plan for the Board’s consideration during next year’s retreat.
The Board of Education and mayors of all five municipalities were on hand to provide respective reports. Senator Mike Woodard, Rep. Larry Yarborough and Rep. Terry Garrison were also in attendance to address the 2019/2020 Legislative Goals as they impact Granville County.
“What we should always keep in mind,” County Manager Felts concluded, “is where we are, where we are going and what we need to get there. It is important that we are all going in the same direction.”
(To view Granville County’s five-year strategic plan, visit www.granvillecounty.org)
The Granville County Board of Elections recently held a swearing in ceremony for new officers.
The Board of Elections consists of five board members who are appointed by the State Board of Elections. The staff includes Tonya C. Burnette (Director of Elections), Colette S. Kneeland (Deputy Director) and Lorraine LeGates (Elections Clerk).
The Board of Elections works diligently to conduct fair and impartial elections while making sure that every citizen has the right to vote in an election.
Duties and responsibilities involved in running the Board of Elections include:
- providing statistical information to the public, students, and universities;
- producing lists and mailing labels for candidates, parties, insurance agents, and businesses;
- processing voter registration forms from the public and from agencies such as Social Services, DMV, Employment Security Commission and the library;
- appointing and training precinct election officials;
- maintaining the voter registration database by removing deceased voters and felons based on state lists, as well as voters who have moved out of the county or state;
- educating the public by presenting information related to voter registration and election laws;
- ensuring that all polling places are surveyed and are ADA compliant;
- mailing absentee ballots to civilian voters and mailing or faxing absentee ballots to military voters who request them;
- providing accurate maps to the public; and
- providing our community with the tools they need to learn more about elections.
The Board of Elections office is located at 208 Wall Street in Oxford. Contact them by phone at 919-693-2515 or visit http://www.granvillecounty.org/government/board-of-elections/ for more details.