Warren Co. Flag

Warren County to Require Masks Indoors in All County Facilities

As of this publication on August 2, 2021, Warren County is now included in the Centers for Disease Control report that indicates 92 North Carolina counties have “high” or “substantial” transmission of covid.

A Warren County press release states, “Effective August 2nd, Warren County will require will any visitors to indoor county facilities to wear masks while receiving service. Staff will also be wearing masks indoors.”

To clarify, when asked about schools, Senior Assistant to the County Manager Charla Duncan said, “…this is just for our county government facilities.”

CDC guidance for “high” or “substantial” transmissions areas is to wear a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

As of this publication, Warren, Vance and Granville counties are considered “substantial” spread areas.  Franklin County is a “high” spread area.

HOPE Program now accepting tenant referrals from landlords, increasing assistance

— press release courtesy North Carolina Department of Public Safety

The Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (HOPE) Program has announced program changes to accept referrals of tenants from landlords and increase financial awards to North Carolina households that apply for pandemic-related rent and utility assistance. The new guidelines aim to help even more renters get back on their feet while also assisting landlords that have lost income due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. Since opening last fall, the HOPE Program has awarded more than $305.5 million to ​81,039 households, with ​$219.2 million already paid to landlords and utility companies statewide.

“We established the HOPE Program to keep low income tenants hit hard by COVID-19 in their homes with the lights on,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “HOPE has already assisted more than 81,000 families, and these program changes will make sure even more people get the help they need while our state recovers.”

Landlords whose tenants are struggling to pay rent due to the pandemic can submit names and contact information using the HOPE Program website or by contacting the HOPE Call Center at 888-9ASK-HOPE (888-927-5467). A program specialist will then follow up with the tenant to help start the application process.

Additionally, starting Aug. 1, the HOPE Program monthly rent award limit will increase by 30%, which will allow the program to cover approximately 95% of all rent awards requested by tenants. Similarly, the utility award limit will increase by 100%, a change that will cover nearly 90% of all past-due amounts requested by program applicants. The new limits will apply to all new applications received, including applicants reapplying for assistance.

The HOPE Program promotes housing stability by providing rent and utility bill assistance to prevent evictions and the disconnection of utilities. The program currently serves 88 North Carolina counties, with 12 counties and five Native American tribes receiving direct federal funding to operate their own emergency rent and utility programs. A complete list of the counties served by the HOPE Program, county programs and tribal government programs can be found using the online NC HOPE Interactive Map.

Information about the HOPE Program, including eligibility requirements, program benefits and an online application, is available at www.HOPE.NC.gov. Applicants who cannot access the website should call 888-9ASK-HOPE (888-927-5467) for help with the application process. The HOPE Call Center is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Both English- and Spanish-speaking representatives are available to assist callers. Applicants who applied for assistance during the first phase of the HOPE Program are eligible to reapply for additional help.

Funding for the HOPE Program is provided to the state through U.S. Department of Treasury Coronavirus Relief Fund allocations and the Emergency Rental Assistance Program established by the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021. The HOPE Program is managed by the N.C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency, a division of the Department of Public Safety. To learn more about the HOPE Program, visit www.HOPE.NC.gov.

 

Apply Now for Vance/Warren Master Gardeners Program 2021

– submitted by Paul McKenzie –

Cooperative Extension is looking for a few good volunteers to join the Vance/Warren Master Gardeners program. Applications are now being accepted for the 16 week training program, which will begin on August 3rd, 2021. The class will meet on Tuesday mornings, and covers all aspects of gardening including fruits, vegetables, weeds, insects, diseases, trees, shrubs, turf, and more. Some classes will meet in person, while others will convene using the Zoom video conferencing platform.

After training, each volunteer intern is required to provide 40 hours of service in various community outreach projects. No green thumb required, and many other skills are needed including public speaking, writing, photography, social media, event management, graphic design, and much more. Recent volunteer projects have included demonstration gardens in both counties, newsletters, gardening workshops and seminars, youth education and more. The training fee is $125.

For more information, please visit http://go.ncsu.edu/mgvw or call 252-438-8188 (Vance County) or 252-257-3640 (Warren County).


Paul McKenzie
Agricultural Extension Agent, Vance/Warren Counties
NC Cooperative Extension
305 Young St., Henderson, NC 27536
158 Rafters Ln., Warrenton, NC 27589
http://vance.ces.ncsu.edu
http://warren.ces.ncsu.edu

TownTalk: VGCC Student Enrollment Day to Take Place on All Four Campuses

The four campuses of Vance-Granville Community College will be open from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, July 31 for Enrollment Day, a time when prospective students can drop in, learn more and get help as they plan their next steps in education.

Dr. Antonio Jordan, director of admissions and enrollment services and Kali Brown, dean of student access and support, spoke with John C. Rose on Monday’s Town Talk about the upcoming event. Fall semester classes begin on Aug. 16.

“There’s something special about a face-to-face interaction,” Brown said of the in-person event. It’s an opportunity to have students come to campus, have access to the offices they would need for the enrollment process in a face-to-face setting. Both the VGCC application and the financial aid application are accessed and completed online, and Saturday’s event is a time for students and their parents or family members to questions or get help navigating the process.

Jordan said he looks forward to having students back on campus. “We’ve done a great job virtually, but like Dean Brown mentioned, there’s just something special about having them on that campus, having them in tone of those computer labs, having them in the admissions or enrollment center and being able to talk with them and work with them,” he said.

Having weekend events to meet students’ needs is probably going to become more routine, he added. Increasingly, the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours just aren’t convenient for those who have full-time jobs or other commitments, so VGCC leaders are “thinking outside the box” by offering the Saturday opportunity, he said.

For complete details and audio click play.

In addition to the two applications, the enrollment process includes a new student orientation.

Jordan will be at the main campus in Henderson to facilitate the new student orientation, which will be from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. During the orientation, students will have an opportunity to learn about majors and careers, complete their own career assessment and then figure out the best way to achieve their goals.

Although VGCC uses social media, email and other methods to share information, Brown said it’s critical for students to be able to have a face-to-face conversation with college representatives to guide them. The Enrollment Day is a chance to set up student accounts, as well as set up meetings with advisors to select classes.

There is, of course, the matter of paying for classes. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a first step, but there also are grants like the Long Leaf Commitment grant that can help, as well as numerous VGCC scholarships through the VGCC Foundation, Brown said.

The VanGuarantee is a program that helps students pay for fees and books that financial aid may not cover. This program is available for students who take a minimum of six credit hours, Brown added.

TownTalk: Soul City: Race, Equality And The Lost Dream Of An American Utopia

Thomas Healy was born in 1969, the same year that Floyd McKissick launched Soul City, his dream to build a new town in Warren County that would boast 50,000 residents and pump life into a historically poor area of North Carolina.

Healy, although born and raised in North Carolina, only learned about Soul City when he was a reporter in the 1990’s at The News & Observer in Raleigh, he told Bill Harris and Mark Pace on Thursday’s Town Talk.

And now, the Seton Hall law professor has written a book about the spot where McKissick had envisioned Black people living, working and thriving. But Soul City: Race, Equality, and the Lost Dream of an American Utopia also looks examines misperceptions surrounding Soul City.

One glaring misperception is that McKissick wanted to build an all-Black city an hour north of Durham, Healy said. Then, with the backdrop of protests in Ferguson, Missouri, Healy decided to take a closer look at the story of Soul City and “to tell people about this history and, to some extent, set the record straight.”

McKissick, a Democrat, had some unlikely allies when he was trying to build Soul City, from James Holshouser, the Republican elected governor in 1972 all the way to the White House and Richard Nixon. Although initially skeptical and hostile, Healy noted, the nay-sayers realized what Soul City could do, they were on board.

But not Jesse Helms, newly elected senator from North Carolina. “Helms was hostile to Soul City from the very beginning,” Healy said. Ironically, The News & Observer, no friend of Helms ordinarily, “sort of tag-teamed with Jesse Helms in a way” in opposition to Soul City.

That combined opposition of the newpaper and Helms “was really devastating” for Soul City. Healy opined that if one or the other had not been such vocal opponents, then maybe Soul City would have had a fighting chance at survival.

Unlike suburban areas that grew up around urban areas as bedroom communities, Soul City was plopped in the middle of a rural county with little industry nearby. McKissick was trying to build a city of 50,000 people in a county that had a total population of 16,000 – he would have to clear the land, pave the roads, bring in electricity and then build homes, parks, amenities that would attract residents. And then there would need to be jobs.

It was a classic chicken-egg theory – which would come first, jobs or the city? Industry would demand a skilled workforce to draw from, and residents would have to have a way to make their livelihood in order to relocate, Healy said.

It was a strategic, yet pragmatic move that McKissick made in the summer of 1972 to switch political parties. He became a Republican and supported Nixon. Healy said he felt like this was insurance that would assure Soul City would get the federal dollars from HUD to become a reality.

Soul City got the money, but it wasn’t enough, Healy said. And that type of idealistic thought doesn’t exist today. “It was a super ambitious, audacious project,” Healy said. “If you proposed something like this now, I think people would look at you like you were crazy.”

McKissick did not see his dream come to full reality. He died in 1991, after Soul City had closed. But Healy said he felt McKissick would be heartbroken today to see that spot in Warren County where his dream began.

For complete details and audio click play.

 

Kerr Tar Workforce and NCWorks

TownTalk: NCWorks NextGen Program Helps Young Workers On Career Path

The NextGen program that operates in the five-county area as part of NCWorks offers young adults support and help in the search for gainful employment, but they get much more than just the hope of a paycheck.

Helen Bradby, NextGen’s director, shared information about the program on Monday’s Town Talk and told John C. Rose about the NextGen’s successes. She and Desiree Brooks of Kerr-Tar workforce development board discussed just how NextGen and NCWorks work to connect job seekers with employers.

NextGen serves ages 16-24 who face at least one barrier to employment, from being homeless or having a criminal background to not having a high school diploma, being pregnant or a parent.

Brooks said the object is to help youth not only find a job, but to help them find a career.

Example: a young man from Warren County needed first to get his GED before he could continue on the path to employment. NextGen placed him in an on-the-job training assignment while he was completing his GED and as of last month, he is a permanent employee. “He’s making some good money,” Bradby added.

This particular “customer,” as Bradby refers to all those prospective employees that participate in the NextGen program, had some work experience, but he needed a few months of training to bring him up to speed, she said. NextGen provided 75 percent reimbursement to the employer for the employee’s wages during that time. That’s a win-win for the customer who gets placed in the job and for the employer who needs someone to do the work.

NextGen focuses on four career pathways that show promise of growth in the area: advanced manufacturing, informational technology, construction, and health care.

And while her program focuses on youth employment, Bradby emphasized that her program is keenly tuned in to the area’s businesses and employers, who serve as valuable partners and hire workers who come from NextGen.

“Send them to us, Helen, we can teach them,” is what she said she hears from employers in the area. Bradby said the employer partners can trust that the individuals NextGen sends to them have the willingness or the ability to learn new skills, even if they don’t already possess them.

The past program year proved challenging, Bradby said, but the new program year that began July 1 promises more and better opportunities for those who need a job and for those who need workers.

“This is not a cookie cutter program,” Bradby said. Every customer is evaluated individually. “We’re going to sit down with you and create a plan,” she said. The plan includes an educational goal and and employment goal, and there are detailed objectives to support achievement of the goals.

One person’s first step may be to complete a GED, while another may need help creating a resume. NextGen’s main purpose is to do what is needed to reach a customer’s goals.

Often, job-seekers in this age group need to be prepared for what an interview will be like. Employers are looking for workers with that set of “soft skills” such as politeness, listening and communication skills and time management.

“They want someone who’s going to actually show up” for work, Bradby said.

The employer partners are vital to the success of the program, Brooks said. “We are not a one-man show,” she said. Vance-Granville Community College and Piedmont Community College, along with the economic development corporations and the chambers of commerce all provide valuable support to NCWorks and the Kerr-Tar COG. Everybody is working toward that same goal of employing workers and getting them off on a career path that will provide them with a sustainable wage that will allow them to support their families.

Like the Vance County mother of one child who came to NextGen for help getting her nurse aide 1 credential. She did that at VGCC, passed her state exam and then returned for additional certification for medication aide credential. She now is employed full-time at Duke University Hospital, and receiving excellent benefits.

“That is exactly what a career path is,” Bradby said. This customer had several steps on her career path – to get one certificate and state credentials, then move along her career path to her goal of full-time employment. And that is exactly what NextGen is set up to do.

To learn more, visit https://nccareers.org/ncworks-nextgen-program or call 919.693.2686.

For complete details and audio click play.

 

Sweet Delights Owner To Show Off Baking Skills – At Warren County Library

Visitors to the Warren County Public Library on July 30 around 11 a.m. or so may just be able to enjoy a sweet treat in addition to checking out or returning books. A local entrepreneur will host a live baking demonstration and will discuss how her she uses her baking talents to help young local students with educational opportunities.

Denise Allen, the owner and baker of Sweet Delights Cookies in Norlina, will share the story behind the creation of her business while encouraging upcoming entrepreneurs with tips, ideas, and strategies for starting a business. The program will be held in the library’s community room.

Sweet Delights was created to provide an opportunity for Allen’s granddaughter to attend college, according to information from Warren County officials.

That vision expanded to the idea that she could provide not just for her granddaughter, but for other children in Warren County as well. She bakes cookies with the goal of assisting educational opportunities within her community. She hopes to encourage, inspire, and most of all help as many at-risk children as she can.

“We are delighted to present this program. I am confident that participants will walk away with an unforgettable, mouth-watering experience. This event will be informational and entertaining,” said Library Director Cheryl Reddish.

The library provides access to other programs. Pick up a calendar at the library or visit the library’s website www.wcmlibrary.org for details. All library programs are free. For more information, phone 252.257.4990. The library is located at 119 S. Front St., Warrenton, NC 27589.

NC State Board of Elections

New Members Appointed to County Boards of Elections

More election news as The State Board of Elections on Tuesday appointed four members to all 100 county boards of elections.  As the press release on the matter said, this is “the latest class of elections officials working to administer and safeguard elections.”

Executive Director of the State Board, Karen Brinson Bell, said in the release, “We are happy to welcome new members to North Carolina’s elections team.  Together, we will continue to ensure that our elections are accessible, safe, and secure, and that every eligible vote counts.”

State chairs of the Democratic and Republican parties recommended three registered voters in each county, and the State Board appointed two of the three for each party.

Republicans Catherine Clodfelter and Susan Floyd were appointed for Vance County as were Democrats James Baines and Lee Faulkner.

The Republican column in Granville County shows Kay Wiggins and Donna Parham appointed along with Sharyn Alvarez and Elizabeth Torres-Evans appointed in the Democrat column.

For Warren County, Republicans Betty Mazor and Dominic Taranto plus Democrats James Roberts and Henry Durham were appointed.

Franklin County appointees included Republicans Harry Barrick and Angela Pearce and Democrats Mary Gill and Barry Gupton.

The appointments are contingent on the nominee having a proper application and agreeing not to engage in prohibited political speech while on the board.

State statute requires that every two years the State Board must appoint four members, two from each leading party to the county boards with the Governor appointing  the fifth member.

These new appointed nominees have terms that expire in July of 2023.

NC Governor Logo

State Evictions Moratorium Ends July 1

– press release courtesy of Gov. Roy Cooper –

Republican Council of State Members Revoke State Evictions Protections Effective July 1
Majority of Council of State Decline to Concur with Extension of State Evictions Order; CDC Evictions Moratorium and HOPE Program Rental Assistance Remain in Place

The state evictions moratorium will end July 1 after Republican members of the Council of State rejected a one-month extension, which would have aligned with the national CDC evictions moratorium through July 31.

“It’s disappointing to see Council of State Members revoke eviction protections for people still struggling to stay in their homes,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “Many North Carolinians still need help and we will work to make sure landlords abide by the CDC evictions moratorium and that tenants can access rent and utility assistance from counties and the state HOPE program.”

Under the Emergency Management Act, the Governor has requested the concurrence of the Council of State for each extension of the eviction moratorium. On Monday, the Governor requested that the Council of State approve extending the moratorium through July, in line with the CDC evictions moratorium. The extension would have also given tenants notice that the moratorium would be lifted at the end of July.

A majority of Council of State members rejected this extension, with their votes falling along party lines. Attorney General Josh Stein, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, and State Auditor Beth Wood supported an extension. Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson, State Treasurer Dale Folwell, Commissioner of Labor Josh Dobson, Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler, Commissioner of Insurance Mike Causey, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt opposed extending the moratorium.

The CDC evictions moratorium went into effect on September 4, 2020 protecting certain residents, based on income, from being evicted for an inability to pay rent. The CDC indicated that the current 30-day extension is intended to be the final extension of the order. In order to qualify for protection, tenants must attest to meeting the CDC Order’s income and eligibility requirements.

The state evictions order aligned with the CDC Order and implemented important notice requirements for landlords before they could initiate a residential evictions action. The state order required that landlords provide their tenants with a copy of the declaration form they are required to fill out to receive protections under the CDC Order. Without this requirement, many North Carolinians may be unaware of the protections available to them under the federal evictions moratorium and evicted unnecessarily.

The state executive order also specified procedures that must take place once a tenant has provided a landlord with a signed declaration attesting that the tenant qualifies for protection and protected tenants who had been awarded state rental assistance from eviction while payment on awards was processed.

Last fall, Governor Cooper created the HOPE Program using federal funds to provide rent and utility assistance to people struggling during the pandemic providing $132 million in assistance to landlords and utilities on behalf of more than 37,000 tenants.

The HOPE Program opened a new eligibility period this spring and is currently accepting applicants. Several counties are also delivering Emergency Rental Assistance through local programs, and their information may be found at the HOPE website. The state evictions moratorium had protected HOPE awardees from eviction. The Council of State decision means that people awarded HOPE funds may be at risk of eviction until checks are processed, an average currently of about 14 days. As of June 28, the HOPE Program had awarded $66 million to 19,000 households since May 17.

IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR RENTERS

Some North Carolina renters retain protection against evictions based upon the CDC moratorium. Renters who:

  • Received a federal stimulus check in 2020 or 2021, or
  • Were not required to report income to the IRS in 2020, or
  • Earn less than $99,000 ($198,000 filing jointly) per year, and
  • Cannot make rent payments due to lost income,

may provide a signed declaration to their landlord that protects them from eviction while the federal moratorium remains in effect. The declaration form may be found here.

Renters with questions may get help from an expert by contacting (800) 569-4287 or going online to get contact information for a North Carolina HUD-approved housing counselor, here.

Complete details about the HOPE Program or a local Emergency Rental Assistance program, including eligibility requirements, program benefits and an online application, are available at www.hope.nc.gov. Applicants who cannot access the website may also call (888) 9ASK-HOPE or (888) 927-5467.

Applicants who wish to apply for free legal help may call Legal Aid of North Carolina at (866) 219-5262 or apply online here.

NC Forest Service

Forest Service Annual Tree Seedling Sale Begins July 1

Beginning Thursday, July 1, the N.C. Forest Service will take orders for tree seedlings as part of its annual sale. The nursery and tree improvement program produces millions of quality native and genetically improved seedlings for nearly 50 tree species and understory plants, according to a press release.

“Trees and forests are an important part of addressing water quality, carbon sequestration and climate resiliency concerns,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. The nursery and tree improvement program ensures that landowners and other public and private entities have access to native trees and understory plants. “I would encourage anyone interested to buy their seedlings, early,” Troxler said.

Hardwood and conifer seedlings are sold in lots as small as 10 to larger lots of 100, but the nursery also will process larger orders in the hundreds or even thousands.

Genetically improved species of loblolly, long-leaf, short-leaf and white pines are available and new additions include Nordmann and Trojan firs, Canaan fir, Colorado blue spruce and red spruce.

The seedlings will be available for distribution beginning in December and continuing through mid-April.

Visit www.ncforestservice.org to find a link to the catalog; phone 1.888.NCTREES or visit www.buynctrees.com to place an order. Printed catalogs are available at all local forest services offices.