Last updated: August 21. 2014 9:09AM - 1357 Views
By J.L. Pate jpate@civitasmedia.com

J.L. Pate | Civitas MediaNew Richmond County Department of Social Services Director Robby Hall works in his Laurinburg office during his last week on the job as DSS director in neighboring Scotland County.
J.L. Pate | Civitas MediaNew Richmond County Department of Social Services Director Robby Hall works in his Laurinburg office during his last week on the job as DSS director in neighboring Scotland County.
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ROCKINGHAM — Robbie Hall will leave his job as Scotland County’s social services director this week to return to Richmond County, where he will lead the social services agency in his hometown.

Hall’s last day at work in Scotland County will be today. He starts at the Richmond County Department of Social Services on Monday.

“It’s an opportunity for me, both personally and professionally, and for my family,” he said. “We’re going back home, and it is a chance for more professional growth.

“Scotland County has been very good to me,” Hall said. “The department has weathered the changes brought about by N.C. FAST… . It’s doing very well now. It’s a strong organization with good employees.”

N.C. FAST is a computerized system for food stamp distribution in North Carolina, rolled out with much fanfare by the state in 2013. But it was plagued with problems at the outset. Many recipients, including some in Scotland County, suffered service interruptions and about 30,000 families statewide were without benefits for more than a month because of faulty software.

Hall credited his employees’ devotion with overcoming the headaches those glitches initially caused.

One member of the county’s social services oversight board, though, gave that credit directly to Hall.

“I think he anticipated what was going to happen,” said Jeff Maidment, one of five members of the Scotland County Social Services Board. “He put extra people on to work out problems quicker than might have been the case. It was handled a lot better in Scotland than in most other counties.

“I worked very closely with him,” Maidment said. “He’s had a great impact on Scotland County, and he has good visibility statewide and that helped us, too.”

Asked to summarize Hall’s tenure in Scotland County, which was just shy of four years, Maidment said simply that it was too short.

But Hall will still be working with his Scotland County counterparts, exploring ways to share regional resources and reduce overhead.

“I plan to more fully explore the possibility of the two counties sharing contracts and resources to improve services and wring more out of tax dollars,” he said.

Hall has been “a wonderful man to work for,” said Carrie Rorie, who works for Child Care Services in Scotland County. “He’s intelligent, always polite and you can tell he’s all for serving the people.”

Susan Butler, the county’s human resources director, said she is “dismayed” by Hall’s departure.

“We hate to see him go,” she said.

Hall took the director job in September 2010, hired from Richmond County, where he had been a Child Protective Services supervisor.

Finding a replacement “is usually a lengthy process,” Butler said, estimating that it may be up to six months before a new director is found, allowing time to advertise the opening, form a search committee, cull through applications and interview a final field of candidates.

The job was posted on the county’s official website on Aug. 13, offering a salary range of $68,508 to $96,792, with a negotiated salary dependent upon experience and education.

That listing will be live until Sept. 15, Butler said. Applications must be received by 5 p.m. on that date.

The new director will inherit a department that distributes $103 million annually, staffed with 91 employees and funded with an $8.6 million budget. The job posting calls for a candidate who will “and maintain direct involvement in conflict/complaint resolution, staffing and personnel issues.”

The director will also face challenges in the primarily rural county with a population of about 37,000 and the highest unemployment rate in North Carolina at 12.1 percent.

Reach reporter J.L. Pate at 910-506-3171.

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