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ARHS to expand vaccine clinics to essential workers

Albemarle Regional Health Services will expand first-dose vaccine clinics this week to include frontline essential workers, focusing on teachers and childcare providers, the agency said Monday.

ARHS said late last week that owing to weather delays, it had not received shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine for this week. As a result, it was not announcing first- or second-dose clinics. It said it would announce those clinics, however, once it received notification vaccine doses for this week had been shipped.

ARHS received that notification on Monday. As a result, a makeup clinic for residents needing their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine will be held Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Elizabeth City Aviation Commerce Park at 1049 Consolidated Road, Elizabeth City.

ARHS said the clinic is only for residents who received their first Pfizer dose of the vaccine on either Jan. 6 or Jan. 7. Residents were urged to bring their vaccine card with them. If you received your first dose through another provider such as Walgreens, you will need to return to that provider for your second dose, the agency said.

ARHS also plans to host a first dose clinic on Wednesday at Perquimans Recreation Center at 310 S. Granby St., Hertford. Hours will be from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. or until supplies of the vaccine are gone.

ARHS will also administer first and second doses of the Moderna vaccine at the American Legion at 1317 W. Queen St., Edenton on Wednesday. Hours will be from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and again from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. ARHS said 200 first doses of the vaccine will be available at the clinic; second doses will be available to those who received their first doses on or before Jan. 27.

Second-dose clinics will also be held Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Bertie County High School at 715 U.S. Highway 13 North Windsor; Camden Intermediate School, 123 Noblitt Road, Camden; and the Elizabeth City Aviation Commerce Park. A second dose clinic will also be held at the Whalehead Club in Corolla that day.

Six first-dose clinics will be held on Thursday, ARHS said. Clinics will be at Bertie High School; the Camden County Library at 104 Investors Way, Camden; Maple Park at 208 Airport Road, Maple; the Gates County Health Department at 29 Medical Center Road, Gates; the Ahoskie Creek Amphitheater at 125 Edgewood Drive, Ahoskie; and the Elizabeth City Aviation Commerce Park.

Hours for the Windsor, Camden, Currituck and Gates clinics will be from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. or until supplies are gone. The two clinics in Ahoskie and Elizabeth City are scheduled from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

ARHS said while its priority for vaccinations this week will continue to be Groups 1 and 2 — health care workers and persons 65 and older — it will also be following Gov. Roy Cooper’s directive to expand COVID shots to persons in Group 3 of the state’s priority list.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services defines frontline essential workers as people who must perform their jobs in person at their place of work and also work in one of the following eight essential sectors: critical manufacturing, education, essential goods, food and agriculture, government and community services, health care and public health, public safety and transportation.

ARHS said its focus in Group 3 will be childcare workers and teachers but other essential workers will also be able to get the vaccine.

ARHS said this week’s clinics will only be for residents of ARHS’ eight-county region. Persons showing up for the clinics who do not live in the region or are not part of the current priority groups will be asked to leave, the agency said.

ARHS also said residents of the eight counties who received their first dose of the vaccine at a clinic in the region don’t have to return to that specific clinic for their second dose.

“If you received your first dose at one of our clinics, regardless of residence status, you will be able to receive your second dose as long as you have your vaccine card with you,” the agency said.

The agency also urged residents not to arrive for any clinic before 8:30 a.m. Those arriving before then will be asked to leave by law enforcement.

Cramped quarters: Study for new fire station sought

Elizabeth City Fire Chief Chris Carver is asking City Council to appropriate money to find a location for a new fire station that he says will cost between $4 million and $5 million.

Carver asked councilors last week at their annual planning retreat to include $15,000 in next year’s city budget for a property acquisition study. Carver said the study is needed to find a new location for a facility that would replace Station II on Harney Street.

“We need to start thinking about this now,” Carver said. “It will be a major capital project for the city.”

Carver also told council the fire department needs to replace its Engine 2 ladder truck. He asked the $900,000 needed for the new fire engine be included in the city’s 2021-22 budget. Carver is also asking for two additional firefighting positions that would cost around $86,000.

Station II was built in 1997 as a temporary station after a former station on Elizabeth Street was condemned. Station II houses a fire engine, a reserve engine, a tanker, a fire boat and a support vehicle. It was built to house four firefighters but currently there are nine at the station.

Carver said the station lacks needed living and training space and the building must be evacuated during hurricanes because it is not rated to withstand high winds. There also is no room for expansion at the Harney Street station.

Carver reiterated that Station II was never intended to be a permanent facility.

“Here we are in 2021 and we are still in the station,” he said.

Carver wants the proposed new station to be located “farther east” from the current site of the Harney Street station. The study will take three months to complete.

“This study will show the best location to suit our current needs,” Carver said.

Carver also told council that the roof at the fire department’s Halstead Station also needs to be replaced. He said the estimated cost of that is $160,000.

“Some maintenance issues have been long overdue,” Carver said. “If we don’t go ahead and address them we are going to have bigger problems.”

Adding two additional firefighters would bring each of the department’s three shifts up to 14 personnel. Currently, only B Shift has 14 personnel.

The city answered 1,309 fire calls last year and Carver said that number would have been around 1,400 if it hadn’t been for the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A department our size needs 14 (firefighters) per shift,” Carver said.

Shifting to the ladder truck, Carver said the department has already spent more than $35,000 on repairs to the 11-year-old vehicle in the current fiscal year. Carver said the new engine would cost $890,000 and take a year to build. He noted the estimated cost of new fire trucks goes up every year.

“They have three to five percent increases every year,” Carver said.

Carver also wants to buy eight new airpacks and new rescue jacks, that are used at vehicle accidents. The total cost would be around $86,000.

EC police: 3 charged in armed robbery, one charged in shooting incident




Three area residents have been arrested and charged in connection with an armed robbery in Elizabeth City last week.

In an unrelated incident, police also arrested a man in connection with a shooting incident reported last week.

According to Sgt. T.E. Mitchell, city police arrested Tonishele La’ Renee West and Sherbria Delois James on Friday, charging them in an armed robbery reported in the 300 block of Queen Street on Tuesday.

Also charged in the incident Friday was James Calvin Brooks, who was arrested by the Perquimans County Sheriff’s Office, Mitchell said.

No injuries were reported in the incident, which Mitchell confirmed involved the robbery of a person.

James, 30, whose last known address was 1403 River Road Lot 32, Elizabeth City, was charged with armed robbery and common law robbery. She was confined at Albemarle District Jail in lieu of a $40,000 secured bond.

West, 31, whose last known address was the 606 Cale St., Elizabeth City, was charged with conspiracy to a robbery with a deadly weapon, common law robbery, and felonious restraint. She was confined at Albemarle District Jail in lieu of a $50,000 secured bond.

Brooks, 20, whose last known address was 389 Chapanoke Road, Perquimans, was charged with conspiracy to robbery with a dangerous weapon and common law robbery. He was released on a $5,000 secured bond.

Mitchell said police also arrested Manuel Guadalupe Gonzalez on Friday in connection with a shooting incident in the 500 Block of Bunnells Avenue on Monday. No injuries were reported in the shooting, she said.

According to Mitchell, Gonzalez, 25, whose last known address was 1500 River Road, Lot 31, Elizabeth City, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, injury to property and discharging a weapon into an occupied property. He also was cited with possession of marijuana. He was confined at Albemarle District Jail in lieu of a $102,000 secured bond.

Gonzalez was also arrested in October and charged with felony hit and run causing serious injury after city police linked him to the hit and run of an Elizabeth City State University student near the campus on Sept. 24. Gonzalez’s arrest warrant indicated the victim was an ECSU student from Bertie County.

All four suspects — James, West, Brooks and Gonzalez — had first appearances scheduled in Pasquotank District Court on Monday.

Gardner, former EC mayor, dead at 93

Former Elizabeth City Mayor Rick Gardner is being remembered as a builder, community leader, sailor and beloved friend.

Gardner, the city’s three-term mayor from 1993 to 1999, died at home Sunday surrounded by family members. He was 93.

“It’s been a hard couple of days,” said Pauline Berard, who along with her husband were longtime friends of Gardner and his wife, Lydia. “He was a great man who did so much in this area.”

The Berards live in the Machelhe Cove condominiums off the Camden Causeway, just one of the many projects Gardner’s construction company, Rick Gardner Co. Inc., built in Elizabeth City following his founding of the firm in 1983.

Gardner’s firm, which specialized in commercial and industrial construction, also was responsible for numerous building projects on the Elizabeth City State University campus. Because of his work and philanthropic support of ECSU, the university presented him an honorary degree in 1994.

Before winning election as mayor in 1993, Gardner served as a city councilor from the city’s 1st Ward from 1989 to 1991. After running unsuccessfully for mayor in 1991, Gardner was successful in his second mayoral bid. He would go on to win re-election in 1995 and again in 1997 before losing his bid for a fourth term in 1999.

Because of his long service to the city, City Council voted to honor Gardner just before he left office by naming the newly renovated City Hall building at Colonial Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive the H. Rick Gardner Municipal Building.

Councilwoman Jeannie Young, who served with Gardner during her first stint on City Council in the late 1990s, recalled him as a “really strong mayor.”

“Rick had a way of inspiring council to work together for the betterment of the community. He also had good relationships with the council members he served with,” she said.

Gardner also never lost the personal touch. She said she recently saw him out for dinner and Gardner took the time to come over and give her a hug.

“He was just a really great guy,” Young said.

A.C Robinson Jr., who served on City Council from 1987 to 2003, called Gardner “a great leader.”

“He provided the kind of leadership that was needed in order for the city to move forward,” Robinson said.

“He loved everybody,” he added. “He was a great friend of mine even before he became mayor. He loved people. He didn’t mind reaching out to people regardless of race, creed or color.”

Gardner was interested in all aspects of city government, including infrastructure and the full range of city services, Robinson said.

“He always made sure that the council was working together on issues,” Robinson said, adding he didn’t try to twist anyone’s arm to vote a certain way but took time to listen to all members of the council and try to understand their viewpoints.”

Lloyd Griffin III, chairman of the Pasquotank Board of Commissioners, also served as a member of City Council while Gardner was mayor.

“He was a businessman in the community, a leader in the community and a family man,” Griffin said. “I got to see him in all those relationships through the years.”

He recalled Gardner as a leader “who was always there.”

“He always showed up at grand openings, local community events — whatever he felt he needed to be at to move Elizabeth City forward,” Griffin said.

As mayor, Gardner also “never showed any bias” toward or against one group of councilors or faction of council, Griffin said.

“He just wanted what was best for the community,” he said.

Griffin recalled how even when Gardner mounted an unsuccessful bid to return to local politics in 2009 — losing the mayor’s race to Roger McLean —the former mayor didn’t hold “any animosity” toward the new mayor following his defeat.

Berard said Gardner also was an accomplished sailor, spending nearly six decades on the water as captain of his own pleasure craft. She noted that he didn’t stop sailing until he was 85.

Besides his service with the city, Gardner also served stints as chairman of the Coastal Resources Advisory Council, the N.C. Seafood Industrial Park Authority and the Pasquotank Board of Elections. He also served as director on the ECSU Foundation, the Friends of ECSU and the Elizabeth City Area Chamber of Commerce.

Gardner’s survivors include his wife Lydia; his three children, Cathy Arnold, Andrea Gardner Miller and Wayne Gardner; his stepchildren, Kelly Clark, Claudia Boyd and Troy Boyd Jr.; a brother; 16 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service for Gardner will be held at Twiford Memorial Chapel Saturday at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Albemarle Hopeline, P.O. Box 2064, Elizabeth City, NC 27906. Twiford Funeral Home, Elizabeth City, is in charge of arrangements.