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Aulander seeks solutions for discrepancies

AULANDER - The town of Aulander is looking for solutions for some new found problems.

According to Aulander Mayor Larry Drew, some errors were recently found in the town’s financial records dating back several years.

“The town’s clerk gave notice that she would be leaving. Typically they must give us a three weeks notice, but this was a sudden departure. While we were looking for someone to fill the position one of the town’s commissioners jumped in to help because of her experience with Quickbooks,” Drew said.

He also stated the town had hired new auditors in August.

“While we interviewed and hired a new town clerk, this commissioner began helping with the bookkeeping responsibilities for the town,” he explained.

According to Drew, errors in the bookkeeping and records were found dating back to 2014.

The mayor and town officials immediately began an investigation to find the exact errors and if there were any ways to correct.

All of the 14 errors were based in the same category of the bookkeeping. The errors cause the records to not match equally or be reconciled.

“After being in contact with the town’s attorney, Jonathan Huddleston, the Local Government Commission and the auditors, we were guided to have a meeting to explain the problems to the public and the other commissioners. We were told we could do the meeting now or wait until further into the investigation,” said Drew.

“We decided that transparency was key, and decided to go ahead and hold a meeting so everyone would be up to speed on the troubles found,” he added.

The meeting was held on Monday, and approximately 30 to 35 people showed up to hear what the town’s officials had to say.

“I was astonished at the errors found. I wanted to inform the public and other officials what was found, let them know this is a continuing investigation that we are going to try and fix, and to let the public know that I will continue to give updates each month,” he added.

All of the discrepancies were contained to one department, and some things were overpaid and some were underpaid.

“It is a good thing we found these discrepancies. I am very proud of the work done by the new town clerk, commissioners, the auditors and officials for the LGC to investigate and help come up with a solution about this matter,” said Drew.

Drew said that transparency was key and he wanted to be clear with the citizens and other officials what is found in the investigation, and will continue to provide updates at the town’s regularly scheduled board meetings.

“I want to be as clear as day. The town’s officials will continue to follow the guidance from the town’s attorney and the LGC,” he closed.

The town will continue to provide updates as the investigation continues, and plans to solve any of the problems that can be fixed.

Leslie Beachboard can be reached via email at lbeachboard@ncweeklies.com.

Trick-or-treating planned in Bertie County

The important part of Halloween is safety.

That’s the reminder from local law enforcement officers as this year’s events are set for this weekend.

The town of Windsor has set trick-or-treating for Saturday, Oct. 31 and Windsor Police Chief Justin Jackson has asked that parents take their children from 5:30- 8 p.m.

“Sunday is traditionally a time for family and – for many, church,” Chief Jackson said. “Also, on Sunday night people are settling in from the weekend and preparing to return to work and school. It just seemed better on many levels to hold trick-or-treating on Saturday.”

The town of Aulander, however, is choosing to stick with the traditional day for the event. Trick-or-treating in that town is from 6-8 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 31.

Whichever day the event is held, local law enforcement officers are encouraging parents to be careful and alert.

“Halloween should be filled with surprise and enjoyment, and following some common-sense practices can keep events safer and more fun,” Bertie County Sheriff John Holley said.

Sheriff Holley, Chief Jackson and Aulander Police Chief Jimmy Barmer are encouraging everyone to be careful and have an enjoyable and safe celebration as they plan for trick-or-treating with kids and other events.

Jackson and Barmer said they want all the children to have a good time, but asked parents to help make that happen.

In general, they said parents should:

  • cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and cross walks;
  • look left, right and left again when crossing, and keep looking as you cross;
  • put electronic devices down and keep heads up and walk – don’t run – across the street;
  • teach children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them;

always walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible. Children should walk on direct routes with the fewest street crossings;

watch for cars that are turning or backing up. Teach children never to dart out into the street or cross between parked cars;

An adult should accompany those who are participating in trick-or-treating. Children under the age of 12 (the oldest age for those trick-or-treating) should not be alone without adult supervision at night.

In Windsor, Chief Jackson is asking parents to park and walk with children if possible. Chief Barmer said that would be his preference as well.

“We have problems each Halloween with King Street in particular being blocked with cars following children,” Chief Jackson stressed. “If possible, it would work much better if parents walked with their children. If that is not possible, we encourage parents to stop at intersecting roadways to allow people to pass through.”

“It’s better for parents and guardians to be as close to their children as possible to prevent them from walking into oncoming traffic,” Chief Barmer added.

Sheriff Holley said it was important for all motorists to be on the lookout for children, especially on Halloween night.

“It is important for motorists to watch for children darting out between parked cars and children who are walking on roadways, medians and curbs,” he said. “Please enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully.”

The sheriff said it was important to remember that children could be wearing dark clothing and to be on the lookout for them.

In addition, Chief Barmer, Chief Jackson and Sheriff Holley said parents should do some homework before trick-or-treating.

That work includes:

check the sex offender registry at HYPERLINK “http://www.ncdoj.govwww.ncdoj.gov when planning the trick-or-treat route;

plan and discuss the route they intend to follow;

know the names of older children’s companions; and

make sure older children trick-or-treat in a group.

The local law enforcement leaders also urged caution when it comes to planning costumes.

“Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors,” Chief Barmer said. “Choose face paint and makeup whenever possible instead of masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision.”

Sheriff Holley said the items carried with the costumes should be monitored as well.

“Knives, swords and other accessories should be made from cardboard and flexible materials,” Sherif Holley suggested. “Do not allow children to carry sharp objects.”

All three law enforcement leaders said it was important to discuss trick-or-treating with your children.

“Do not allow your children to enter homes or apartments without adult supervision,” Chief Jackson insisted.

Chief Barmer added, “Know where you are and where you are allowing your children to go. It is important that you plan a route that keeps your children amongst people you know and trust.”

“Halloween is a fun time in Bertie County, but let’s make it a safe time as well,” Sheriff Holley closed. “The major dangers are not witches or spirits, but falls and pedestrian or car crashes.”

Eastern NC Living features Barmer, Jackson

Eastern North Carolina Living is on the streets, and the lifestyles magazine produced right here in Bertie County features “Heroes Among Us.”

The feature story from Bertie County introduces readers to Aulander Police Chief Jimmy Barmer. A longtime law enforcement leader in western Bertie County, Barmer is also featured on the cover of the September/October issue of the magazine.

“Always exhibiting professionalism, he maintains a rigorous program of certification and training for himself and any other officer in the program,” Aulander Commissioner Jeanette Tinkham said of Barmer.

Aulander resident Bubba Peele said Barmer is good for the town.

“This is the real strength of Chief Jimmy Barmer. He takes pride in the responsibility of safeguarding our citizens. He knows hundreds of us by name.”

Barmer also currently serves the Murfreesboro Police Department in Hertford County as a Lieutenant.

In addition to a story about Chief Barmer, residents of Bertie County can learn more about Windsor Police Chief Justin Jackson, who answers the “Six Questions” in the latest edition of the magazine. Chief Jackson talks about how he came to be in law enforcement and what it’s like to be a chief of police at ‘home.’

Bertie County citizens will learn more about their neighbors as well.

Across the Roanoke River, the Martin County story features Mount Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Cynthia Pointe, who felt a calling to dedicate herself to the Williamston community.

“My motto is: ‘Jesus went about doing good’ so we need to walk in His footsteps and do good for others,” she said.

Over in Northampton County, readers will learn about 911 Telecommunications Director Lakeisha Ransom. She says dispatchers are definitively first responders and believes they are important in emergencies.

“Without dialing us, you can’t get the fire department or rescue squad or the deputy or police officer,” she said. “It’s me who’s helping you with a choking or drowning child or whatever emergency you have — it’s us.”

Hertford County’s feature is on retired Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh and his lifetime of service.

Readers can also learn about Beaufort County teacher Susan Knox of Pungo Christian Academy, Gates County school volunteer Kay Barker and Hyde County fire chief Jeffrey Stotesberry.

Readers also get to learn about Lt. Col. (Ret.) James Mercer, who is now a JROTC instructor at N.C. Wesleyan College, a Williamston McDonald’s employee – Flora Speller – who has been working at the establishment for more than four decades and Edgecombe County 4-H “Agvocate” Hallee Whitehurst.

In addition, Grandma’s Kitchen offers recipes for food that can be served to a group of heroes, including a hero sandwich, cole slaw and jam cake.

Eastern North Carolina Living is available throughout Bertie County, including at Bunn’s BBQ in Windsor, Baker Peanuts in Roxobel, the Aulander Town Hall and Kelford Post Office.

COVID-19 cases dramatically decrease

WINDSOR - COVID-19 related complications have claimed the lives of five more individuals within the region, including one person in Bertie County over the last week.

Sadly, there have been 53 deaths due to the virus. Bertie County had one new reported death in the last week. The individual was over 65 years of age.

The active COVID-19 case count has decreased below 50 active cases in seven of the eight counties in the region. Pasquotank County still remains significantly higher with 129 active cases.

“The FDA and CDC have officially granted authorization for COVID-19 booster doses of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. We are now working to update our local standing orders and finalize local dispensing plans. ARHS is preparing for the expansion of our vaccine campaign and will announce details next week, including who is eligible, said Albemarle Regional Health Services Health Director R. Battle Betts Jr., MPA.

“We have plenty of vaccines to meet the demand. In addition we are continuing to wait for approvals of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages five through 11. Widespread vaccination is a critical tool to help stop the pandemic,” he continued.

Albemarle Regional Health Services (ARHS) issued its current regional COVID-19 update on Friday, Oct. 22. The updates are released on Friday each week, showing the updated information on vaccines, active cases, fatalities and facility outbreaks. The report includes Bertie County and seven other counties, which are part of ARHS, including Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Gates, Hertford, Pasquotank and Perquimans counties.

According to the report, there have been 2,453 lab confirmed cases of COVID-19 for Bertie County, with 2,383 of those cases considered recovered. There were 17 active COVID-19 cases reported.

Bertie County has the lowest number of active cases within the region.

This is an increase of 19 new positive cases in the last week.

The ARHS reported five new COVID-19 related deaths within the region.

Aside from the Bertie County death, Hertford County reported one new death related to COVID-19. The individual was over the age of 65. Chowan, Currituck and Gates counties report one new death for each of the counties. The individuals were all in the 50 64 years of age range.

One death was affiliated with a long-term care facility outbreak.

According to the Bertie County Schools COVID-19 Dashboard, there have been 116 total cases of COVID-19 throughout the district since school started on Monday, Aug. 23.

During the first week of school (Aug. 23-27), there were 11 cases of COVID-19 and during the second week of school (Aug. 30 – Sept. 3) there were 21 additional cases The third week of school (Sept. 6-10), there were 16 total COVID-19 positive cases. During the fourth week (Sept. 13-17), there were 18 total COVID-19 positive cases. During the fifth week of school (Sept. 20-24), there were 21 positive COVID-19 cases, and during the sixth week (Sept. 27 – Oct. 1) there were 11 positive cases.

During the seventh week (Oct. 4 – 8), there were 14 positive cases throughout the school district. During the eighth week of school (Oct. 11 – 15), there were two reported COVID-19 cases.

Last week (Oct. 18 – 22), there were two reported COVID-19 cases throughout the school system.

Bertie County Schools does not separate the numbers of cases into staff and student categories. They also do not list how many students are on active quarantine.

For the current week (Oct. 25 – 29), there have been no cases reported in the school district.

There are currently nine active long-term care facility outbreaks in the region, but none in Bertie County.

There have been 5,716 first dose vaccinations and 5,518 second dose vaccinations administered in the county. There have been 28 booster doses administered.

ARHS is continuing to ask the community citizens to be mindful of practicing preventative and safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

According to Betts, COVID-19 testing is still available by appointments at the local health departments across the region. Tests will be completed through a curbside screening clinic.

To schedule an appointment, call the closest health department directly.

ARHS is collaborating with OptumServe to provide additional, no cost COVID-19 testing sites in Bertie, Chowan and Hertford counties. Testing is typically available from 10 a.m. — 2 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and 1 – 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Times and days my change, so citizens should call or check the website prior to going to the site.

ARHS is continuing to accept vaccine appointments for first and second Moderna and Pfizer, along with Johnson and Johnson, at each of the local health departments. Appointments will be available to residents of the eight county region who are 12 years old and older.

The Bertie County Health Department is located at 102 Rhodes Ave. in Windsor.

For more information, call 252-794-5322.

Leslie Beachboard can be reached via email at lbeachboard@ncweeklies.com.

Perdue Farms 40,000 pounds of poultry

Salisbury, MD - As part of a commitment to alleviate hunger, Perdue Farms has donated approximately 40,000 pounds of no-antbiotics-ever chicken to help the Food Bank of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City feed individuals and families struggling with food insecurity in rural northeastern North Carolina.

The donation, an equivalent of approximately 33,000 meals is part of Perdue’s “Delivering Hope To Our Neighbors” initiative focused on hunger relief and improving quality of life and building strong communities where we live, work and beyond.

“Our mission is to fight hunger and deliver hope to those who live with food insecurity on a daily basis. This generation from Perdue Farms comes at a time when individuals and families continue to struggle amid the COVID-19 pandemic. We are extremely grateful for their continued support of our mission,” said Food Bank of the Albemarle Executive Director Liz Reasoner.

According to the Feeding America “Map the Meal Gap Report,” within the food bank’s 15-county service area, more than 48,000 people, of which 25 percent are children, do not have regular access to enough food for a healthy, active life.

“At Perdue Farms, we are passionate about our efforts to alleviate hunger, especially among the most vulnerable and underserved populations. We’re hopeful this donation will deliver some much needed relief to our neighbors and inspire others to engage in the fight against hunger,” said Perdue Farms Senior Manager of Community Relations Bill See.

About Perdue Farms

Perdue Farms is a fourth-generation, family-owned, United States food and agriculture company. Through the belief of responsible food and agriculture, the company is empowering consumers, customers and farmers through trusted choices in products and services.

The premium protein portfolio within our Perdue Foods business, including the flagship Perdue brand, Niman Rancnh, Panorama Organic Grass-Fed Meats, Coleman Natural and Yummy, as well as pet brands, Spot Farms and Full Moon is available through various channels.

Perdue Agribusiness is an international agricultural products ans services company.

Leslie Beachboard can be reached via email at lbeachboard@ncweeklies.com.