HAMLET — The McLaurin Vocational Center — which provides training for mentally and physically disabled adults in Richmond, Anson and Scotland counties — has been closed temporarily because it failed to renew its state license on time.
The N.C. Department of Health Service Regulation sent two reminders — on Nov. 20 and Dec. 18 — that it had not received the proper paperwork from the center, a spokesman for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday. When the renewal form and supporting materials still had not come in by the beginning of the year, he said, DHSR issued a “close notice” Jan. 5.
Center Director Holleigh McLaurin said Friday that the center was tardy in submitting its application for renewal but had done so and would meet with state licensure representatives today. She did not yet know a time.
“We’ve called them, and they’ve got our new application,” she said — as well as a petition for services the center would like to add, such as skills-building workshops for adults able to go to work.
“We renew our license every year,” McLaurin said. “This year, we did not get the renewal packet when we should have” — nor did the center administration receive the reminders, which came by email. McLaurin said she had yet to find either reminder after scouring six months worth of emails.
The center remained open after the “close notice” was issued because it was working with the Sandhills Center of Moore County to arrange temporary services for clients during the closure, McLaurin said. The McLaurin Center is part of a network operated by the Sandhills Center, which manages services addressing mental health, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and substance abuse from its headquarters in West End.
The McLaurin Center shut its doors last Friday, McLaurin said, after completing arrangements for all of its clients and because it was “not appropriate to provide services until (the license renewal) works through.” The center was dark and its flagpole empty Thursday.
Complicating the closing, McLaurin said, was a disgruntled former employee who was calling the families of clients to tell them the center had closed permanently when that was not the case.
Last May, the center let go a husband and wife, dismissing the husband first and the wife, minutes afterward.
According to a report from Hamlet Police — who were called after the husband’s firing — the man left the building, kicked a pallet lying nearby, then drove over it leaving the parking lot. Employees told police they feared the man would be even angrier when his wife was fired subsequently, the police report shows.
Since the two firings, McLaurin said Wednesday, the man has driven slowly by the center sporadically, attempting to intimidate employees, and the wife has made prank calls to center clients.
McLaurin said she had fielded “multiple calls” this week from clients’ families worried that the center would not reopen because they had been told it would not.
Police Chief Scott Waters said the department had offered to provide escorts for center employees, as well as to step up patrols in the area. He and Capt. Marc Terry visited the center to deliver personal assurances.
The McLaurin Center’s website says that since 1967, the facility has provided vocational training and day activities for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Richmond, Anson and Scotland counties.
It does not mention the closing.
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]