LAURINBURG — The Scotland County Board of Commissioners got a change in leadership on Monday night with the elevation of vice-chair Carol McCall to the chairman’s seat.
McCall, a retired county social worker who is serving her second term on the board, succeeds Guy McCook, who served as chair for three years.
Commissioner John Alford nominated McCall for the chairman’s seat, a motion that was approved with one dissenting vote from Commissioner Clarence McPhatter. No one else was nominated.
Alford was nominated for the vice-chair’s position by Commissioner Whit Gibson, but declined citing no aspirations of being the board’s chair. Commissioner Bob Davis then nominated Gibson for vice-chair, which was followed by unanimous approval.
Also on Monday, N.C. Department of Transportation engineer Chuck Dumas sought the commissioners’ input regarding the four-way stop sign installed at the intersection of U.S. 501 and Old Wire Road in August. That intersection, the most accident-riddled in the county, saw 63 crashes between May 1, 2010 and April 30, 2015. Since August, there have been three.
“Our recommendation is to see how it performs, give it about a year and see how it does, then move forward,” said Dumas.
Though supportive of that recommendation, the commissioners recommended that DOT add rumble strips further out on the approaches to the intersection on U.S. 501 in order to give drivers more notice of the stop sign.
Other options for the intersection include a roundabout, which DOT currently projects installing slightly northeast of the current intersection at a cost of $1.1 million.
“It would be something maybe slightly larger than what we’ve got out there near the hospital in Laurinburg,” Dumas said. “Roundabouts usually see about a 46 percent reduction in total crashes and about a 76 percent reduction in injuries. I think, if we’re getting close to that I don’t know that we could do much better with a roundabout.”
Gibson pointed out that the rate of accidents has not changed in the brief period since installation of the four-way.
“I have been very pleased that there has not been a major incident there with the four-way stop,” he said. “My sense would be that I would like to see you go with the roundabout.”
In other business, the commissioners allocated $25,000 to hire an architect to determine the feasibility of renovating the Edwin Morgan Center as a dual-use facility for the county and Richmond Community College. Between both entities, a total of $1.2 million may be available for the project.
During the meeting’s public comment period, Spring Hill area resident Anwar Monroe expressed frustration that high-speed internet access remains unavailable in the county’s rural areas.
Having inquired with private telecommunications companies and explored sources of public funding, County Manager Kevin Patterson reported that the options are limited.
“Basically they were all very polite in telling me they will notify us when they get in there, but ultimately they are in profit, so until they can actually turn a profit on expanding the services, they really have no plans to do so,” Patterson said, adding that federal funds for rural fiber are few and far between and areas where cellular data is available would not qualify for them.
“Unfortunately, this is not an issue that we can even begin to get into business with on the local government because it would take millions to set up the fiber backbone to begin the process.”
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.