By Richard Sullins |

The Lee County Board of Commissioners will meet Monday night for their final meeting of the 2021-22 fiscal year, with the duty to make two appointments to the Central Carolina Community College Board of Trustees – one more appointment than had been anticipated until recently.

The commissioners have known for months that one four-year term, currently filled by Trustee Board Chair Julian Philpott, would be up for reappointment. But the remainder of a second four-year term became available when CCCC Trustee and Republican County Commissioner Bill Carver resigned his seat on the board of trustees earlier this month in order to create a second vacancy for the commissioners’ Republican majority to fill. The CCCC Board of Trustees is made up of members appointed by the boards of commissioners and boards of education in Lee, Chatham and Harnett counties, as well as appointments from the North Carolina governor’s office.

Five persons have applied for the Lee Board of Commissioners’ two appointments, including Lee County Republican Party Chairman Jim Womack. When asked to list personal references, Womack gave the names of current commission chairman and Republican Kirk Smith, Vice Chair and Republican Arianna Lavallee, and Republican Commissioner Dr. Andre Knecht. Womack has no known previous experience with CCCC or any other community college in the state, but believes the commissioners “need an experienced analyst representing their interests on the CCCC board.”

Philpott, who was most recently appointed by the commissioners to the board of trustees in 2018, has applied for reappointment. His references include Republican state Representative John Sauls, CCCC President Dr. Lisa Chapman, and fellow board of trustees member Jan Hayes. Philpott is a long-standing member of the North Carolina Association of Community College Trustees and was appointed in 2019 to its executive committee.

The third applicant for the trustee’s appointment is Rebecca Yarnell of Sanford, a registered nurse with Cerner Healthcare Corporation. She has earned two associate’s degrees from CCCC (nursing and accounting) and is also the parent of a CCCC graduate.

Two other applicants round out the slate of persons who have applied for the CCCC trustee slot: Oscar Moreno, the director of physician services at Central Carolina Hospital, and David Bernard of Broadway, a retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel who lists Womack as one of his personal references.

Carver told The Rant that he has served with Philpott for the past five years and does not think it would be wise to lose his leadership on the board of trustees, especially as the Moore Center is being renovated and programming is being developed for the job training that will take place there.

Carver is also supportive of Womack’s candidacy as a trustee, saying that Womack “has a global understanding of the economy of the state that is much better than most people and he also has a wealth of knowledge of potential funding sources that could be of use to the college.”

He said he believes both Philpott and Womack “offer good prospects for the leadership of the college, the kind that the community will need with the amount of growth that is forecasted for the county over the next few years.”

One applicant for the CCCC Trustee Board will receive a full four-year appointment, while the other will serve out the remaining three years of Carver’s current term.

Among the other appointments expected to be made by the commissioners are 11 seats on the Agriculture Advisory Board, two seats on the Capital Area Workforce Development Board, four seats on the Fire Advisory Board, six seats on the Board of Health, two seats on the Sanford Area Growth Alliance, and three seats on the Lee County Planning Board.

Funds for additional ambulance proposed, purchase of Buggy Building

Also on the agenda is a proposal to add an additional $132,606 to the contract that went into effect nine months ago with FirstHealth of the Carolinas for an additional Basic Life Support (BLS) vehicle to the county no later than October 1, 2022, adding an additional six percent in costs to those already fixed in the franchise agreement that runs through June 2026.

The ambulance will initially be staffed with two emergency medical technicians when the vehicle goes into service. FirstHealth will immediately begin looking for a medic to staff this new BLS vehicle, which will be upgraded to Advanced Life Support (ALS) status once the medic begins work with the unit.

The cost of another ambulance on top of the remaining four years on the county’s EMS contract adds another $208,669 to the previously agreed number of $3,477,818, making the new total $3,686,487 over its remaining term’s costs to the taxpayers. The commissioners agreed to and will have paid out a total amount of $750,000 by the time the first year of the contract ends on September 30.

The commissioners are also expected to approve an agreement to purchase the Old Buggy Factory Building at a total cost of $5,125,000 that will be paid to the facility’s current owner, Progressive Development Company LLC, over four years. The agreement calls for a down payment by the county of $1.5 million upon approval by the commissioners, to be followed by payments of $75,520.83 per month for 48 months.