Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Brunswick DSS calls emergency meeting

BOLIVIA—Members of the Brunswick County Board of Social Services have called an emergency meeting for 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14.

According to the meeting notice, the board will meet to approve minutes from three meetings in August.

On Aug. 28, board members Tina Jackson, Bernest Hewett and Fauna Schaub voted to fire Patty Connelly, while Elsie Peterson and David Grimes voted against the move.

Ken Campbell, the board’s attorney, said Connelly’s firing was prompted by a previous meeting in which several DSS employees expressed concerns about Connelly and her policies.

“A lot of the concerns that they brought up at that meeting spoke to some of the problems they’ve been having in the department. A lot of it was general personnel issues and how she handled things with personnel,” Campbell said.

When asked for examples, Campbell said, “A little bit of everything really—how she spoke to employees, the policies to some degree, her [managerial] style—it just wasn’t working out.”

Though the board gave no reason for her termination at the meeting, Campbell said the board members acted within the law when they fired Connelly.

At an emergency meeting Aug. 30, board members hired Neil Walters to serve as interim director.

Walters, who previously served as interim director for the agency in late 2010 and into early 2011 while longtime director Jamie Orrock was placed on leave and eventually fired, began his role as interim director Sept. 4.

According to Walters’ contract, he will serve as a temporary employee overseeing DSS for no more than 999 hours, which is about 25 weeks. Walters will earn $43.75 per hour, with a maximum of 40 hours each week.

The Brunswick County DSS board has been on the chopping block since the N.C. General Assembly approved legislation allowing counties to disband their DSS boards in favor of a consolidated human services board.

The proposed human services board would be an advisory board similar in makeup to that of boards of health in North Carolina.

Brunswick County commissioners will consider consolidation and dissolving the DSS board at their meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday at county commissioners’ chambers.


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