Board of Commissioners approves funding for four SRO positions for elementary schools

ASHEBORO — The Randolph County Board of Commissioners met Monday to deliver their decision on how to allocate $600,00 in state funding. In addition, the board also approved four new SRO positions for the county elementary schools.

First up on the agenda for the board was a presentation on the Children’s Home Society Study results.

“Back in November of 2021, the Randolph County Partnership for Children requested funding for an early childhood community survey in order to more effectively identify the needs of children and caregivers in Randolph County,” said commissioner Hope Haywood. “The partnership used for this survey was the Institute for Families, a division of the Children’s Home Society of North Carolina. This organization has had a presence in Randolph County for over 40 years, and their reputation is sterling.”

The study focused on four key areas: an analysis of population and DSS health data, an environmental scan for tools, resources, and supports already in the community, interviews with over 100 residents of Randolph County involving caregivers and community influencers, and a media analysis.

“There are three things that are the most important to take away tonight,” said Children’s Home Society Representative Donna Wood. “First and foremost, families in Randolph County are increasingly overburdened. Particularly around economic hardship and transportation. The second is that the increased needs of families are driving child welfare, foster care, and county expenses up. And the third and most important, in my opinion, is that Randolph County residents can come together to change this pattern. Throughout this process, it was evident what a wonderful community Randolph County is and how much residents care. It was very clear that this trend is likely due to people not knowing how they can be part of a solution as opposed to not wanting to be.”

The board was also presented with the annual update from their partnership with Waste Management.

“Since June of 2014, when we got the contract, we have contributed almost $13 million to Randolph County,” said Waste Management Governmental Relations Bob Peeler. “The past fiscal year, the annual payment with CPI was $1,214,063, and a couple of years ago, you approved a daily tonnage increase, and because of that, this past fiscal year, it brought in another $301,793. In addition, over that period of time, we have paid almost $6 million in solid waste taxes to the State of North Carolina.”

Following those updates, the board approved a series of community funding allocations using state funds brought forth by NC Senator Dave Craven.

“The citizens hear about the large investments we make from the state in our communities, but sometimes we have needs that don’t quite make it to the top of everybody’s list,” Craven said. “So tonight, we’re here to make some appropriations. The state sent the county $600,000 to look at some of these areas.”

The allocations include $25,000 for Experience Liberty, $50,000 for Your Choices Randolph, $50,000 for Randolph County United Way, $10,000 for Farmer Civitan Club, $20,000 for RC Family Crisis Center in conjunction with Emmy’s House, $20,000 for Randolph County Sheriff’s Office, $10,000 for Asheboro Downtown Development, $20,000 for Randolph County Crime Stoppers, $10,000 for Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen, $20,000 for Randolph County Animal Shelter, $20,000 for Honoring Our Veteran’s, $5,000 for Asheboro Raiders Youth Football Program, $5,000 for Ramseur Food Pantry, $5,000 for Randolph County Honor Guard, $20,000 for Petty Family Foundation, $10,000 for Habitat for Humanity, and $10,00 in unrestricted grants for all municipal and volunteer fire departments totaling $200,000.

The board then approved a contract with mkSolutions Inc. of York, PA, for a cost of $125,875 with a $4,955 year two maintenance cost for the Library RFID project. The project is funded with a federal Library Services and Technology Act grant and a local match.

“We are getting a project underway to streamline our handling of library material through radio frequency identification of items, or RFID for short,” said Library Director Ross Holt. “We’ll place a short-range radio tag on each book, DVD, audiobook, and other items. This will allow multiple items to be handled, checked out, checked in, and processed in a single, hands-free transaction. You place a stack of items on a sensitized plate, and they’re checked out or checked back in. Inventory is as easy as waving a wand across a shelf of books.”

“One of the big benefits of RFID to the patrons is self-checkout which will be offered at each library, although staff assistance will always be available. We also expect to see a significant saving of staff time. This will enable us to redeploy staff to more substantive interactions with patrons. Our intent is to shift more staffing hours to the mobile library, which is very much in demand.”

The board also approved a request from the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department for four deputy sheriff positions for Elementary School SROs.

“We have some of the greatest schools that you guys have approved, and the county has built with state-of-the-art technology that is safer now than other times, but when I was growing up, we didn’t have the need for SROs, and that didn’t come until 1994,” said Captain Brian Arrington. “As time changes, the community and the sheriff’s office agree that we need to change with it, and if violence is going to present itself to our schools, we need to prepare to fight it to keep it away from the kids of Randolph County.”

“Since January 1 of this year, not counting the two and half months we were not in school, our SROs have taken over 675 reports or supplements of reports just in our county schools. So, the number of occurrences that law enforcement is needed in these schools has gone up dramatically. We get the job done with the number of officers we have, but we could better cover and provide better safety for the kids of Randolph County if we could add these four officers.”

The approved positions come at a total cost of $384,004, of which Randolph County Schools has agreed to pay $238,003.

“What’s the cost of one incident?” said commissioner Maxton McDowell. “We don’t want to pay that price.”

The board also approved the purchase of five Ford Police Interceptors and 10 Dodge Chargers at a total cost of $528,745 for the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office.

Finally, the board approved the purchase of approximately 2.5 acres of property for $76,398 in order to help facilitate the construction of a pump station and force main for the I-74 site project.

“Back in March, you had awarded a contract to the Wooten Company to design the pump station and force main serving the I-74 site,” said County Engineer Paxton Arthurs. “At that time, it was only for this site. However, in June, you approved an amendment to the contract to expand the pump station to serve the entire sewer basin. This was done to provide for future development. At that time, Randleman was going to provide water to the site, and all the sewer was going to be pumped south to Asheboro. Randleman had the capacity to provide for the site. However, it would use up all their capacity. So in order to preserve some of that, they were going to let the sewer go to Asheboro. However, recently we learned that Deep River Dyeing has closed. This was Randleman’s largest water and sewer customer, and because of the impact this is going to have on their budget, they have asked for the water and sewer to go to Randleman, and Asheboro is in agreement with this.”

The Randolph County Board of Commissioners will next meet December 5.

By Ryan Henkel, North State Journal