ROCKINGHAM — Animal control is now officially a Richmond County Sheriff’s Office function.
The county Board of Commissioners voted Monday to formally designate the sheriff’s office — which has enforced county animal ordinances and handled nuisance complaints since January — as the county agency tasked with animal control.
County Manager Rick Sago told the board that all references to the health department — the prior enforcement agency — have been taken out of Richmond County’s animal ordinances and replaced with the sheriff’s office.
When commissioners adopted the ordinance last July, the Richmond County Health Department was listed as the enforcement arm, but the sheriff’s office took over in January.
An overview in the agenda packet says the sheriff’s office “has performed an outstanding job of administering and enforcing the animal control ordinance.”
“It’s been a win-win situation,” Sheriff James E. Clemmons Jr. said.
The board was later introduced to Tracy Parris, a new staff member with code enforcement and the planning department.
Recently retired County Planner James Armstrong said Parris previously worked in the loan and mortgage department with BB&T, adding that “she has experience working with people.”
Armstrong, who now lives in Boston, worked in local government for 25 years. Before working with the county, he was planning director for the city of Rockingham.
In regards to the county’s geographic information systems, Armstrong said, “I’ll do whatever I can to help.”
As part of the consent agenda, commissioners approved the transfer of budget expenses from two employees from mapping and GIS to the building inspections department.
Sago also updated the board on several ongoing projects, including another new hire.
He said the county recently hired Robbie Hall as the new director of the Department of Social Services. Hall, who lives in Richmond County, is a former DSS director from Scotland County.
Sago added that the county should be bidding out for the water plant expansion within the next 30 days and may soon have to rebid for the combined maintenance facility.
He also updated the board on the Ledbetter Lake dam project. He told commissioners that the state legislature had approved the project and wanted them to know that the only people paying for repairs to the dam would be those with property on the lake.
Dr. Dale McInnis, president of Richmond Community College, gave the board an update on what’s been happening on campus over the past year, and highlighted plans for the upcoming year.
He said the partnership with Richmond County Schools has “taken a huge leap forward” in regards to the early college and dual enrollment programs, adding that both will be expanding.
McInnis said there will be more than 200 students in the dual enrollment program this year, up from 168 last year. He said these free programs have saved parents $912,851 in tuition and fees.
The college will also be providing a new scholarship, targeting those who don’t qualify for financial aid, he said.
McInnis added the college will be offering several new programs starting in the fall semester. The programs range from an eight-week truck driving course to a mechatronics program and a diploma option as a dialysis technician.
In other action, the board decided to renew an interlocal agreement with the town of Ellerbe which provides law enforcement from the sheriff’s office and reappoint Michele Weatherly to a three-year term on the Sandhills Center Board of Directors.
Reach reporter William R. Toler at 910-817-2675.