The News Reporter
DSS board ends spat over new member
By NICOLE CARTRETTE
The Columbus County Department of Social Services (DSS) board appointed Ruth Storms to the board in a 3 to 1 vote at a special called meeting Tuesday at DSS.
The appointment comes after a deadlock vote, 2 to 2, in consideration of Charles Hammond and Carlton Campbell for the seat left vacant by Pat Pascal who resigned in February.
Chairman Kenneth Skipper, and board members Amon McKenzie and Guillermo Noguera voted in favor of Storms. Michael Lewis was opposed.
McKenzie, a DSS board member and county commissioner, said the board “agreed to go back and accept resumes of a female” after public input at a June 13 meeting. Social Services Director Marva Scott, who transcribes the minutes from a recorder and has done so since Paschal resigned, indicated that the board agreed to accept more resumes.
Lewis questioned the legality of the decision to start the appointment process over at the Tuesday meeting and said he did not agree with the board’s decision.
Lewis cited a section of N.C. General Statutes 108A that addresses Social Services. A portion of the statute reads: “If a majority of the four are unable to agree upon the fifth member, the senior regular superior court judge of the county shall make the selection.”
Board attorney Don Viets said the decision was proper if the majority of the board was in agreement.
Official minutes from the meeting in question are not available because the board had not reviewed and adopted the minutes, Viets indicated. “Having not been approved, I don’t know that they are really official minutes or anything,” Viets said.
McKenzie said that because Tuesday’s meeting was not a regular meeting the adoption of minutes was not planned.
The unofficial minutes of the June 13 meeting, although requested, were not provided to The News Reporter. The News Reporter believes the minutes are a public document and plans to make a formal request for them.
Storms is a registered nurse with an extensive background in public health, her resume indicates. She is a 1958 diploma graduate RN from the Brooklyn Hospital. She has a BSN from UNC-Charlotte, an MS in health administration from Central Michigan University, and a certificate in Parish Nursing from Duke University.
Storms served as the Columbus County Health Department director of nursing from 1987 to 1992. Prior to that she worked as pediatric nurse practitioner with the county. From September 1992 to January 1996 Storms was a public health nurse manager for the Manillaq Association in Kotzebue, Alaska.
From July 1996 to August 2004 she served as a school nurse consultant for the state of North Carolina, assisting school nurses in 17 county school districts with protocols, policies and procedures and developing care plans for students.
Storms is former president and current secretary for the District 16 North Carolina Nurses Association, a member of Healthy Carolinians, and a volunteer parish nurse.
Board member duties
The county board of social services selects the director of social services. It advises county authorities about policies to improve community social conditions, consults with the director about office problems, and assists the director in budget planning and administration to the board of county commissioners, according to N.C. general statute 108A-9.
Members serve three-year terms, limited to two consecutive terms. County commissioners elected to the DSS board are not subject to the consecutive terms rule.
“Other such duties and responsibilities as the General Assembly, the Department of Health and Human Services or the Social Services Commission or the board of county commissioners” may be assigned to the DSS board also, according to the statute.
Members of the board have authority to inspect certain authorized records on file in the office of the director pertaining to applications for and provision of public assistance and social services.
The DSS board meets at least once per month at the DSS conference room that can be accessed from the parking lot behind DSS. The next meeting is scheduled for July 11 at 5:30 p.m.
In other matters, former DSS director Larry Moore complained that an announcement of Scott’s book signing to take place at the Carolyn T. High Memorial Library should not be posted at the front door of DSS. Moore indicated he had contacted County Manager Jim Varner about the matter.
“If some of our people have a problem with it, it shouldn’t be there,” Moore insisted. He added that he was glad Scott “had found time to write a book.”
Moore’s complaint resulted in a shouting match between him, Scott’s husband and others who took offense to his remarks.
Viets was approached by some present who felt Moore should be removed from the meeting. Viets explained it was a meeting open to the public.
Whiteville City Councilmember Harold Troy appeared on the scene after the confrontation and stated later that he believed Scott was unfairly the target of personal attacks.
Troy indicated the organizations sponsoring the event, the DREAM Center and others, sent posters to several businesses and agencies.
“I don’t think she should be maligned because of her desire to be an author,” Troy said.