LUMBERTON — The chairman of the Robeson County Board of Commissioners is calling it a “breakdown in communications,” not a vendetta, that has caused confusion over what the county expects of its long-term disaster recovery committee and how much money the county should provide the committee to carry out its hurricane recovery efforts.
Commissioner Tom Taylor said Friday that he met with disaster recovery committee Chairman Ken Windley on Thursday evening. He said he now wants to meet again with Windley, County Manager Ricky Harris and Jan Stout, a Federal Emergency Management Agency official.
“I want to sit down at the table and have a discussion,” Taylor said. “No one is mad at anybody. I just want to find out where there has been a breakdown in communications.”
Last week, Windley suggested that the county’s decision not to provide his committee with $10,000 toward the cost of operations might be a personal attack against him. Windley, Robeson County’s manager from 2002 to 2010, retired after his relationship with several members of the eight-member county board deteriorated.
Taylor, however, said that the commissioners are just being cautious with the way they are using taxpayers money. He said Windley has not yet provided the commissioners with a plan that shows that his committee will not be duplicating services already being provided survivors of Hurricane Matthew.
Windley confirmed on Friday that he had met and discussed his concerns with Taylor. He said Taylor understands his concerns and is setting up a meeting with other county officials and the FEMA spokesperson.
“This isn’t finished yet,” Windley said.
Taylor and Harris said that Windley failed to attend a meeting Wednesday with them, two other county commissioners and Stout. Windley said he didn’t know a meeting was scheduled.
But according to an email sent by Stout to Harris on Feb. 22, Windley had requested that she set up a meeting with county officials. She set the meeting up for Wednesday, with the purpose of the meeting being to provide county officials with an update on the “group’s progress, as well as share strategies that are working successfully with other counties throughout the state of North Carolina.”
When asked about her email by The Robesonian on Friday, Stout declined to comment.
Windley and Taylor both said that they would have liked the commissioners to discuss the issue at their regular meeting Monday, but that probably will not occur since the meeting between Windley and county officials fell through last week.
“I hope the commissioners will soon discuss this,” Windley said. “There are a lot of things our committee can help them with if they give us the opportunity.”
The long-term disaster recovery committee is made up of about 45 members from 20 community organizations. It has been operating mostly on private donations, said Windley.
According to their meeting agenda, the commissioners on Monday will:
— Consider requests for conditional-use permits that will allow for the establishment of a solar farm in a Heavy Industrial district in Raft Swamp; allow for the establishment of a family cemetery in a Residential Agricultural district in St. Pauls; allow for the establishment of a used car dealership in a Residential Agricultural district in St. Pauls; and allow for the placement of a third dwelling on a property in a Residential Agricultural district in Lumberton.
— Be introduced to Velvet Nixon, the county’s new director of the Department of Social Services.
The meeting begins at 6 p.m. Monday at the county administration building on North Elm Street.
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.