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Catherine MacNichol and Josh Miller of Roanoke Rapids were honored last week as the school’s best all-around athletes for 2020-2021. In total, the Jackets captured nine Northern Carolina 1A/2A Conference titles this year.

Enfield turns down amended 911 agreement
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Commissioners of Enfield unanimously turned down the amended interlocal agreement for local funding costs for the Halifax County Central Communications Center on Monday.

The agreement is offered to five municipalities: Town of Enfield, Town of Weldon, Town of Scotland Neck, City of Roanoke Rapids and Town of Littleton.

According to previous articles in The Herald, Enfield, Weldon and Scotland Neck accepted the original agreement, Roanoke Rapids rejected it, while Littleton tabled the item. In an effort to persuade the two municipalities, the Halifax County Board of Commissioners approved on June 22 an amended and restated interlocal agreement regarding the local funding of the 911 center.

The “Amended and Restated Interlocal Agreement” proposed changes in the last paragraph under section four “Local Funding Obligations,” which reads: All funds received by the county from the municipal parties under this agreement will be deposited to the General Fund of the county. If there is a shortfall of budgeted revenues for the cost of personnel in a given fiscal year, the municipal parties will be required to remit additional funding to cover the shortfall. Likewise, if there is a surplus of budgeted revenues for cost of personnel in a given fiscal year, the county will remit the overage to the municipal parties. The same percentages used to determine the initial level of funding will apply to shortfalls and overages. Determination of whether there was a shortfall or overage in budgeted revenues will be determined by the County Finance Director on or before July 31 following the end of the fiscal year. Invoices for shortfalls or refunds for overages will be made on or before Aug. 15 following the end of the fiscal year.

The revision to the proposed agreement offers a change of the city paying based on the actual costs of the employees rather than budgeted costs.

Weldon and Littleton boards of commissioners tabled the amended agreement, while Roanoke Rapids rejected the offer. Mayor Eddie Braxton of Scotland Neck said they approved the amended agreement.

During a regular town meeting on Monday, Enfield Police Chief Chuck Hasty, who was appointed to the 911 board regarding the agreement, explained to officials the town already has an agreement for $74,032, but accepting the new agreement may result in paying more money next year. Hasty said he would prefer the town keep the original agreement to avoid financial complications that including owing money and reimbursement.

“And I don’t see that reimbursing us with how they schedule their people up there,” he said. “I’m still upset about the cost, but it is what it is.”

Hasty said each dispatcher at the 911 center is scheduled 31 hours of overtime each month, where one week they work 50 hours, another week they work 17 hours and another week 48 hours. He said they are 40-hour-a-week employees who do not have special consideration as first responders. Hasty said he presented the center with a schedule where employees would have 16 hours, cutting overtime in half.

“I think we’re paying as a town a lot of personnel issue for their budget for their overtime,” he said.

The center’s 2021-22 budget for salaries and overtime is $221,946 with $0 overtime for Enfield, Hasty said.

“Which is kind of high even after you look at the schedule that’s presented that reduces that down,” he said. “I want to actually present this in front of the 911 advisory board and also maybe get it to the commissioners to show how they can save the county money by changing this schedule without adding employees or taking away employees.”

Hasty asked the commissioners to keep the original agreement and not to consider the amended proposal where the town could get a small refund or owe nearly $6,000.

“I just don’t think it’s worth it,” he said. “We know what we have to pay, we can argue and fuss and gripe and complain with the county commissioners about the amount we pay and how they figure it. But at least we won’t get a surprise bill at the end of the physical year.”

Commissioner Bobby Whitaker agreed with Hasty.

“Chief I’m with you on that with staying on like that because we know they’re not giving no money back,” Whitaker said. “Either you’re going to break even or you’re going to owe them something. I don’t see us getting a refund.”

Town Administrator Tyree Davis said when he was police chief, the 911 bill started at nearly $11,000 and went to about $77,000.

Whitaker said many Enfield residents are unaware that each 911 call they make is costing the town money.

“I say that because they feel like they’re just making a random call, but when they make the call they’re costing the town,” he said.

Ronnie Locke, planning and zoning director, said he suspects expenses will increase this year due to higher volumes of calls.

Hasty said it is a process, but he wants to bring the information before the 911 board and then to the county commissioners.

Ribbon-cutting formally opens The Landings of Lake Gaston
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LITTLETON — Betty Pinelli and Benjamin Bokuniewicz, the first residents of The Landings of Lake Gaston assisted living, cut the ribbon during the ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday.

The couple moved in May 4. Something they like about the Landings is it is very clean, Penelli said.

Victoria Bedard, Life Enrichment coordinator, said the two are fabulous and a great asset to the facility.

“In the mornings they will ask me if we are doing water balloon toss,” she said. “They love going out. When they first came they told me, when the wheels are moving, we want to be in it.”

The couple has been together 28 years, and are both nearly 90 years old, Pinelli said.

When asked for some advice in living a long, healthy life, Penelli said laughing, “You have to take it as it comes.”

Debra Dunlow said Bedard has been very key in drawing the residents out of their rooms and having activities, parties and trips so they can feel young and alive. Her father Wallace Brown is a resident.

“Everyone has gone above and beyond to make him involved,” she said.

Bedard said the facility held an early Independence Day celebration with food, music and a water balloon fight. On a regular basis she leads the residents in exercises and sometimes a staff member tells them a corny joke of the day.

“They love it — it is never a dull moment,” Bedard said. “I tell everyone, ‘I do the fun stuff.’ ”

Executive Director Heather Foster, a Roanoke Rapids native, said Bedard really excels in her job.

“She really deserves a lot of accolades for what she does,” Foster said.

“It’s my passion — if I could move in, I’d have me a room,” Bedard said. “It is just so rewarding walking in here. If I can make just one resident smile, I did my job for the day. We have such a good time — we really do. I learn so much about residents and their pasts and what they like.”

Foster said they have nearing 30 residents and are licensed for 60.

“We get calls all the time from people who want to tour the facility, because they have a loved one they think would be perfect for living here,” she said.

Foster earned her health care administrator’s license in 2019, she said.

“I have always had a place in my heart for caring for the elderly,” she said. “One of my first jobs was as a CNA at a nursing facility when I was 18, so this has been a long-time passion of mine.”

Another employee, Liz Hudson, is the transporter for the residents at the Landings. She takes them to appointments, to the bank and shopping.

“We’ve been taking mystery rides, when they don’t know where they are going,” she said. “We are trying to build up the momentum more and get them outside the building.”

Hudson said she loves her job because she loves the people.

“My heart is to the residents,” she said. “The workers are great, they tend to these residents here and are 100% behind them. I’m a happy-go-lucky-person and I try to keep them laughing by telling them a corny joke. I love every minute of it.”

Debra Richardson, The Landings of Lake Gaston director of new development and acquisition operations said, “I could not do this job without my staff, which I appreciate a whole lot.”

Richardson said she oversees each project from start to finish, remaining on about six months after the opening of each facility, making sure everything is compliant and running properly. The work begins with finding land, getting plan approvals and obtaining permits.

“It seems like it takes a long time but it doesn’t,” she said, with 15 new projects on the horizon. “When I first started, we had 80 buildings and now we have close to 200. We are the largest provider in the state of North Carolina.”

ALG Senior, formerly Affinity Living Group LLC, is headquartered in Hickory. According to Argentum’s 2021 Largest Providers Report on U.S. assisted living, independent living, memory care and continuing care retirement community: ALG Senior is listed as ninth, with 12,863 total units in 155 U.S. communities, comprising of 7,819 assisted living; 1,767 independent living; and 3,277 memory care; employing 7,000 people. The report names Charles Trefzger as President and CEO.

The Landings of Lake Gaston is owned by Lake Gaston Holdings, and ALG Senior serves as the project developer and consultant for the community. 

Richardson said her joy is hiring the staff and training them.

“And meeting all the residents and giving them that initial love and making sure their care is exactly what it needs to be and they become a family,” she said.

Leanne Patrick, Lake Gaston Regional Chamber of Commerce president/CEO, said she is happy The Landings of Lake Gaston decided to “land” in Littleton close to the lake.

“It’s a perfect addition to a community that is so rich in values, so rich in its belief in taking care of the aging population,” she said

Church group to perform 'Sister Act Jr.'
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ROANOKE RAPIDS — “Sister Act Jr.” premiers Friday and Saturday, by the music drama camp of First Presbyterian Church.

The church-sponsored show is the fourth performance from the group of children after putting on “Godspell Jr.,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Jr.,” and “Fiddler on the Roof Jr.” while missing last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Choir Director Denise Hackenburg said this is the first time the group is performing “Sister Act Jr.”

“The music is absolutely fantastic,” Hackenburg said. “The music and the dancing, and it’s just such a fun show.”

The play is an adaptation from the 1992 comedy film “Sister Act” featuring Whoopi Goldberg, who plays Deloris Wilson, a nightclub singer who takes refuge in a convent from a mob and ends up turning a choir group into a public hit that eventually jeopardizes her identity.

“The music was written especially for this show, and it’s just so clever and bouncy and fun,” Hackenburg said. “People who have never seen ‘Sister Act’ the movie will love it too.”

Madalyn Godfrey, who is not part of the church, plays the main character that Goldberg brought to life in the film. She is a fan of the original motion picture. Godfrey said a few differences between the movie and play, such as the “Take Me to Heaven” song, are played twice with a nightclub version and church version in the play.

When asked if stepping into the role required extensive preparation, she said the group practices musicals throughout the summer, and Hackenburg selects the roles for the participants. Godfrey said nobody knows what roles each person will fill until the end of the day, and most practices are spent at home learning lines and conducting characterizations for their characters.

“Whenever I perform, I really love it because it’s being in front of the crowd, and it’s you’re creating that character that isn’t yourself,” she said. “It’s the way to understand the personality of others but an opportunity for you to dig deep into understanding your own true self, and you’re able to bring that out for people. I love seeing the smiles on people’s faces and hearing the laughter. It’s such a wonderful feeling.”

Godfrey said she puts her own twist to her characters when asked if she felt a connection to her character.

“I am not probably as bold as the character in the play,” she said. “But there are aspects of her that I can definitely relate to making people laugh. I know for me, I’m very vocal with my facial expressions. So, I like adding that into her character.”

Linda Brewer, a member of the Christian Ed Committee, said she and others were there to help support the participants with costumes, snacks and other things. Brewer said she is a fan of the film, but also noticed the differences in the play.

“I am amazed at what these children have learned already,” she said. “It’s amazing. We have children here from Hertford County or Bertie County, from Greenville — we have children from very different backgrounds who are here, and somehow it just meshes.”

The free event begins at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday inside the Loy building, located at 16 E. Fifth St. For more information, call 252-537-4018.

Ruby Vincent Garner of Lake Gaston spoke about the need for high-speed internet in her community.