RALEIGH — The director of Computer Operations for Robeson County told commissioners Friday that computer security is important in maintaining the integrity of the county government.
Terry Buchanan said at the county’s annual three-day retreat that for the past three years he has been working to educate county employees on what kind of computer messages they should be cautious about opening to prevent the county’s computer security system from being violated. He said that his message is getting through, noting that when he sends questionable emails to employees saying “click here” that 50 percent are now not falling for it.
“This is a big improvement since I started the testing and education process three years ago,” he said.
Buchanan was one of 11 county department heads who made presentations to the commissioners during the second day of their retreat held at the Hyatt House in the North Hills area of Raleigh.
In addition to computer operations, departments making presentations on Friday included Parks and Recreation; Inspections and Planning; N.C. Cooperative Extension Service; South East Area Transit System; and Public Buildings. Also, presentations were made on grant administration; 911 communications; veterans services; pre-trial release; and emergency services.
As was the case on Thursday, most presentations focused on the effect Hurricane Matthew had on programs and department budgets. Jimmy Williamson, Communications director, and Stephanie Chavis, director of Emergency Services, both addressed how the county worked — and continues to work — to help hurricane survivors get their lives back in order.
“It’s been tough getting through Matthew,” Chavis said. “I spend more time even now on Matthew than I do on my other responsibilities.”
Chavis gave a day-by-day account of the day of the hurricane and the following few days after.
“I get very emotional when I talk about this,” Chavis said. “… This (Robeson County) is my home.”
Williamson, who said he has worked in Communications dispatching for 29 years, told the commissioners he never saw or expected to see anything like the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew.
“Although not fully staffed, I think we did a fine job,” said Williamson. “I’m proud of the work we did.”
Dwayne Hunt, the county’s interim director of public buildings, said that several of the 30 county-owned buildings suffered significant damage during the hurricane. He specifically cited roof damage to buildings including the Robeson County Courthouse and the former BB&T building in downtown Lumberton, where the county hopes to locate several offices to reduce overcrowding.
“FEMA will reimburse us for the cost of replacing these roofs,” Hunt told the board.
In other business, Chris Oxendine, who oversees Veterans Services in Robeson County, updated commissioners on what services are being provided to the county’s estimated 8,000 veterans. These services, Oxendine said, include VA health care enrollment; compensation and pensions; survivor’s benefits, VA home loans; and burial reimbursement.
“Our office provided services to 8,758 veterans in person during 2016,” Oxendine said. “VA total expenditures for Robeson County in 2016 was $88.5 million.”
The commissioners wind down their three-day retreat today with presentations by the county’s Directors of Human Resources and Emergency Medical Services, and the county attorney. Also, presentations will be made by the county’s manager, assistant manager, and interim general services manager/finance director.
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.