Franklin Commissioners Considering $180 Million Total Budget; Public Hearing June 3

Franklin County commissioners are considering a total budget of more than $180 million, which includes adding more than a dozen new county employees, calling for new fees and increases in others, and setting the property tax rate at .505 per $100 valuation.

Franklin County Manager Kim Denton’s May 20 budget presentation calls for just slightly more

than the revenue-neutral rate of .4991 per $100.

And although the budget includes taking more than $4.1 million from the fund balance – $2.3 million of which will be used for capital purchases – it’s still $1.3 million less than was taken last year.

As part of her presentation, Denton shared data about the county’s overall growth – with a 4.1 percent annual growth rate, Franklin is the fastest growing county in the Triangle area, the 3rd fastest growing in the state and the 61st fastest growing county in the nation, according to Census data.

On the expense side of things, $873,193 will be spent to add 13 new full-time employees, including an animal cruelty investigator, as well as staff in IT and facilities management. The county’s departments requested a total of 34 new vehicles during the budget process, and the budget includes more than $1.6 million to purchase 23 vehicles.

Franklin County Schools requested $33 million and the proposed budget includes $29,259,067.

On the revenue side, new fees – several of which are for storage, towing and more at the airport – will be introduced effective July 1.

Animal adoption fees are going up, but fees will be waived for TNVR feral cat adoptions.

It’ll cost $30 to revoke membership in the county’s Voluntary Ag District program and the $5 fee for gun permits has been dropped – residents will be able to get gun permits free of charge.

Commissioners will hold a public hearing on Monday, June 3 at regular scheduled board meeting. Residents are invited to view the livestream broadcast of the meeting and to submit comments about the budget via a public portal found on the county’s website www.franklincountync.gov.

The budget may be adopted at the end of the June 3 meeting or at the June 17 commissioners’ meeting.

View the complete budget document at  www.franklincountync.gov.

Young Farmers & Ranchers Group Gathers Next Generation In Agriculture

The Tri-County Young Farmers & Ranchers group will convene later this week at a local farm that produces organic, environmentally sustainable pork, beef and milk and will learn straight from its owners how MY Meat Farm was created.

If you’re a farmer or rancher between 18 and 35, you’re invited to join this group, which is sponsored by Farm Bureau and brings together young farmers and others in agriculture together from Vance, Granville and Warren counties.

The Tri-County YF&R meeting will be held Thursday, May 23 at 6:30 p.m. at MY Meat Farm, located at 3182 Sims Bridge Rd., Kittrell. Although it is a Kitrell address, the farm is located in Franklin County.

The YF&R program is a new endeavor in the county, said Dr. Wykia Macon, Vance County extension director. “It is a tri-county group of people 18-35 who are farmers and ranchers. Our local Farm Bureau Board and Catherine Watts, who works with Labor Service International, is working to create a community of local young ranchers and farmers who will lead the next generation,” Macon told WIZS News.

MY Meat Farm will provide the backdrop for the final meeting of the season, but the group will pick back up in September.

The farm produces woodland raised pork, pastured beef and raw milk that is “beyond organic.” The owners use methods that are environmentally sustainable, truly humane, and naturally healthy, according to information from Catherine Watts, one of the organizers of the group.

All participants are reminded to wear comfortable shoes – there will be some walking involved at the meeting! As a biosecurity measure, there will be a footbath for everyone’s shoes before the tour begins.

RSVP to Farm Bureau’s Catherine Watts.

To learn more about the YF&R program, visit https://www.fb.org/program/young-farmers-ranchers.

Red Cross: Take A Minute Now To Prepare For Hurricane Season That Runs June-November

– Information courtesy of the American Red Cross

The week of May 5-11 is National Hurricane Preparedness Week and disaster relief agencies like the American Red Cross encourage residents to take a few minutes now to get ready before the hurricane season blows in. The Atlantic hurricane season is June 1 through November 30, but it’s never too early to be thinking about how to prepare to weather a storm and its aftermath.

“The American Red Cross is taking this year’s forecast for an above average hurricane season very seriously,” said Allison Taylor, Regional CEO of Humanitarian Services, Red Cross North Carolina region. “The American Red Cross works closely with local, state, and federal officials, along with partner community organizations, to respond to disasters and meet basic emergency needs before, during, and after disasters. With our disaster volunteers and partners ready to meet the needs of our communities, the North Carolina Region is ready to respond this season.”

Early forecasts indicate there could be a near-record number of storms this year and experts even warn that the first named storm could form before the season begins. They are calling for as many as 25 named storms with up to a half dozen having a direct impact on the U.S.

“We encourage everyone to take time now to get ready for potential disasters this spring and summer,” said Taylor. “You can do so by updating your emergency supply kit, building a plan, and staying informed of weather risks in your area.”

If you live in areas prone to hurricanes, now is the perfect time to get prepared. Here are some simple steps you can take to be prepared:

  1. Create an evacuation plan. Plan what to do in case you are separated from your family during an emergency and if you have to evacuate. Coordinate your plan with your child’s school, your work and your community’s emergency plans. Plan multiple routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs as required and make plans for pets. If you already have an emergency plan, update it and review with household members so everyone knows what to do if an emergency occurs.
  2. Build an emergency kit with a gallon of water per person, per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, medications, supplies for an infant and pets if applicable, a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps of the area and emergency contact information. If you already have a disaster kit, make sure the food and water is still okay to consume and that copies of important documents are up to date.
  3. Be informed. Find out how local officials will contact you during a disaster and how you will get important information, such as evacuation orders.

Download the free Red Cross First Aid app so you’ll know what to do if emergency help is delayed and the free Emergency app for weather alerts, open Red Cross shelter locations and safety steps for different emergencies. Choose whether you want to view the content in English or Spanish with an easy-to-find language selector. Find these and all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.

In addition to taking these preparedness steps, we also have important safety information available for you on hurricanes.

Equines Need Annual Vaccines To Prevent Mosquito-Borne Diseases

-information courtesy of the N.C. Department of Agriculture

Horse, donkey and mule owners, it’s time to get your animals vaccinated against Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis and West Nile Virus.

“Mosquito-breeding season in North Carolina lasts from spring until the first frost and horses are at risk if not properly vaccinated,” said N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “EEE is fatal 90 percent of the time in horses and WNV has a fatality rate of 30 percent. However, both diseases are preventable by vaccination.”

So far this year we have had no cases of EEE or WNV, but last year there were seven cases of EEE, Troxler added.

State Veterinarian Dr. Mike Martin recommends that equine owners talk to their veterinarians about an effective vaccination protocol to protect horses from mosquito-borne diseases. The combination vaccination initially requires multiple injections for horses, mules and donkeys that have no prior vaccination history.

Mosquitoes can breed in any puddle that lasts for more than four days, so removing any source of standing water can reduce the chance of exposing animals to WNV or EEE. Keeping horses in stalls at night, using insect screens and fans, and turning off lights after dusk can also help reduce exposure to mosquitoes. Insect repellants can be effective if used according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Symptoms of EEE include impaired vision, aimless wandering, head pressing, circling, inability to swallow, irregular staggering gait, paralysis, convulsions and death. Once a horse has been bitten by an infected mosquito, it may take three to 10 days for symptoms to appear.

Symptoms of WNV include fever, weakness or paralysis of hind limbs, impaired vision, head pressing, seizures and aimless wandering.

People, horses and birds can become infected from a bite by a mosquito carrying these diseases, but there is no evidence that horses can transmit the viruses to other horses, birds or people through direct contact.

Equine care also includes keeping up to date on equine infectious anemia (EIA) testing, commonly referred to as the Coggins test. “Since January there have been three cases of EIA in North Carolina. There is no vaccine and no cure for this disease so testing annually is important,” Troxler added.

“It’s also a great time to make sure your animal is current on its rabies vaccination,” Troxler said. “So far this year we have had two positive cases of rabies in livestock. All livestock are naturally curious animals, which puts them at risk for a bite if a rabid animal gets through their fence line.”

Alzheimer’s Advocacy Day May 7 In Downtown Raleigh

The Alzheimer’s Association is sponsoring North Carolina Advocacy Day on Tuesday, May 7 in downtown Raleigh to promote awareness for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

The Eastern and Western chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association are teaming up to turn the State Capitol area purple from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., but they need your help.

The event is free, but registration is required to ensure an accurate headcount. Attendees will be asked to participate in a training call prior to the event.  Sign up at tinyurl.com/ALZNCStateAdvocacyDay2024 or by calling 800-272-3900.

The event begins at the North Carolina Museum of History and will be an opportunity for the public and those affected by Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia to take action and speak up for the needs and rights of people living with and their families. Attendees will learn about the legislative process, meet face-to-face with elected officials, share their stories with key decision makers and bring awareness to the importance of the Alzheimer’s Association’s public policy priorities.

“Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most critical public health issues in America,” said Katherine L. Lambert, Alzheimer’s Association regional leader for the Carolinas and Georgia.

“This is why we unrelentingly advocate for public policies that increase quality of life and support all those affected,” Lambert said. “Representation from our communities across North Carolina is paramount. That’s why we urge as many people as possible to join us for our North Carolina Advocacy Day. By working together, we are making an impact.”

Attendees will hear an overview of the public health crisis of Alzheimer’s in North Carolina. They will also learn more about North Carolina’s first and only dementia-specific state respite care plan, Project C.A.R.E. (Caregiver Alternatives to Running on Empty), including its current funding limits and why a funding increase has become necessary.  Advocates will be speaking to elected officials and their designated representatives regarding a few key areas:

  • Codifying the Dementia-Capable North Carolina State Plan to ensure infrastructure is established to address the growing dementia crisis.
  • Establishing evidence-based training for court appointed guardians for those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
  • Learning of the importance of dementia-specific training for all Adult Protective Services workers in the field throughout North Carolina.

Learn more about Alzheimer’s at alz.org/facts.

Franklin Judicial Complex Expansion Could Begin As Early As October 2024

The Franklin County Board of Commissioners approved the next steps in the judicial complex expansion project

Oakley Collier Architects presented the updated site plan and building layouts for a renovated Courthouse Annex and a three-story addition to commissioners at their April meeting.

Construction could begin as early as October.

Back in October 2019, county leaders made the project a priority and commissioners approved funding for initial surveys and designs in November 2021. A few months after that, commissioners got a judicial update which provided options for placement of the judicial complex on the site. Ultimately, locating expanded facilities adjacent to the current Courthouse Annex in Louisburg minimized the need for more new construction.

This project is brought about by the population growth the county has experiences in recent years, which brings with it increased demands to the courts system and other offices housed in the facility, including the clerk of court’s office.

Dockets for District Court and Superior Court have grown as the County population has increased which has expanded District Attorney staff numbers.

According to N.C. General Statute 7A-302, “each county in which a district court has been established, courtrooms, office space for juvenile court counselors and support staff…shall be provided by the county….”

Legislators granted $15 million in the new state budget to be used for the construction of judicial facilities in Franklin County – taking some of the financial burden off of Franklin County and its taxpayers. The funds must be used by October 2025 per the FY23 State Budget.

 

“Franklin County leadership appreciates the support for this identified need from our state legislators,” said Franklin County Manager Kim Denton.

Franklin County Historic Courthouse (Historic Courthouse) was built in the mid-1800s and has served for nearly 200 years. It was last renovated in 2014. The building houses the Clerk of Superior Court offices, Superior Court Courtroom and the Resident Superior Court Judge and supporting staff.

The Judge Hamilton H. Hobgood Courthouse Annex (Courthouse Annex) was built in 1995 – the last judicial construction in Franklin County – after the County renovated a hardware store to expand judicial facilities.  The Courthouse Annex contains the District Courtroom, a portion of the Clerk of Superior Court’s office, and the Resident District Court Judge and supporting staff offices. The Register of Deeds is also located in the Courthouse Annex.

Both buildings house portions of the District Attorney’s office, Guardian ad Litem and Juvenile Justice offices.

Youngsville Library Closed For Renovations Into May; Due Dates For Materials Extended To June 4

The Youngsville branch of the Franklin County Library will be closed temporarily for renovations through the month of April into May.

The book drop also will be closed and due dates for all materials checked out from Youngsville have been extended to June 4, according to information from Franklin County Public Information Officer James F. Hicks III.

The branch is still expected to host an early voting site for the upcoming second primary on May 14.

The main branch in Louisburg and the Franklinton and Bunn branches are open.

Like or follow the Franklin County NC Library Facebook page for updates on reopening.

 

Franklin Co. Commissioners To Form Capital Committee To Study School Facilities’ Needs

-information courtesy of Franklin County Public Information Officer James F. Hicks III

The Franklin County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution to support creation of a Capital Committee in response to the Franklin County Schools Report, published in September 2023.

“The Board wholeheartedly supports establishing a Capital Committee to address the school capital needs for Franklin County Schools,” said Chairman Harry Foy, who added that the commissioners also would support visiting school facilities and working with the school board and county staff to address capital needs.

In addition to visiting facilities, the committee also will “plan, prioritize, and consult data, other experts and resources as needed to recommend mutually agreeable and cost-efficient capital projects.”

Part of Franklin County’s mission states that the county strives to “create a bright future for our county’s students and residents by keeping educational goals and facilities current and relevant to the economic demands of the County.”

Commissioners directed county representatives on the committee to prioritize projects to ensure compliance with N.C. General Statutes and other legal requirements, with an eye on maintaining cost-effective priorities that recognize the impact on taxpayers and support improvements of the educational environment through compliance with goals and a commitment to safe schools.

“The Board of Commissioners and the Board of Education are in agreement that capital needs must be addressed for Franklin County Schools,” Foy said.

The committee is comprised of two members from the board of commissioners, two members from the board of education, the county manager or designee, school superintendent or designee, chief of Auxiliary Services, assistant county manager and the finance directors from Franklin County Schools and Franklin County.

4-H Dairy Program Interest Meeting April 25 For Warren, Franklin Youth

A 4-H Dairy Program interest meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Apr. 25 at the Franklin County Cooperative Extension office, 103 S. Bickett Blvd. in Louisburg.

Youngsters and their parents who want to learn more about the project are welcome to attend and get answers to questions they may have.

The program spans eight weeks, during which participants will have the chance to learn about dairy calves as they prepare for a local livestock show. In addition to learning about livestock handling, the youth will learn problem solving, effective communication and public speaking, record keeping, teamwork and more.

Contact the Franklin County Center at 919.496.3344 to learn more or email local agents Matthew_Place@ncsu.edu, Meg_Wyatt@ncsu.edu or Martha_Mobley@ncsu.edu

Register at https://go.ncsu.edu/franklin-warren-4h-youth-dairy-interest-mtg

Franklin Property Owners Have Extra Week To File Appeal Revaluations

— Information courtesy of Franklin County Public Information Officer James F. Hicks III

Franklin County’s Board of Commissioners extended the deadline to file an informal appeal in the 2024 Tax Revaluation process by one week – from Apr. 6 to Apr. 13.

Informal appeal forms were attached to the Change of Value notices that were sent out on Mar. 6, according to information from Franklin County Public Information Officer James F. Hicks III. Forms can be found at appeals.franklincounty.tax. Informal appeal forms can be emailed to 2024reval@franklincountync.gov or submitted online at the Tax Department’s page of www.franklincountync.gov.

Revaluation staff can be reached at 844.286.3532 or 2024reval@franklincountync.gov for any questions about this process.

Additionally, the Board of Equalization and Review — which will convene on Apr. 15 — will consider any formal appeals that are filed. If unsatisfied with the decision of the Board of Equalization and Review, the property owner can file an appeal with the N.C. Property Tax Commission within 30 days of the decision by the Board of Equalization and Review.

Property owners can appeal the market value if the assessed value is significantly higher or lower than the actual current market value, the assessed value is based on inaccurate data, or the assessed value is not equitable when compared to similar properties in the market area.