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Patton returns to chair county commissioners

Mitchem casts dissenting vote



Staff Writer


Lincoln County Commissioner Alex Patton will retain his post as board chairman for the next two years, following a 4-1 vote by fellow commissioners Monday night.

Commissioner Carrol Mitchem cast the sole dissenting vote.

The decision came after this year’s election winners, Patton, Mitchem and new board member Cecelia Martin, were sworn in for their four-year terms by Clerk of Superior Court Fred Hatley.

Commissioner Carl Robinson was unanimously selected to take over as vice chair, following a nomination by Martin. George Arena, who held the position the last two years, opted not to seek another term as commissioner.

He was recognized Monday night for his service, with Patton noting that it had been “an honor and a privilege” to have served with him.

Patton also said he and Arena may have “passionately disagreed” on some issues over the years, but they were always able to see the bigger picture.

“He did more than a lot of commissioners do,” Patton added, listing off the many committees on which Arena also served.

Arena was presented with a plaque, in addition to a map of the East Lincoln Development District, which he played a significant role in planning.

He stressed that his decision to not run for re-election came down to him wanting to spend more time with his family. However, he said he believed the county was in good hands, calling attention to the leadership of both Patton and County Manager George Wood.

During the regular portion of Monday night’s Board of Commission meeting:

Commissioners unanimously approved a capital-project ordinance for repairs to the old Oaklawn facility.

Commissioners voted 4-1, with Mitchem in opposition, on a resolution of support for a Centralina Mobility Management Project grant application, which, should it move forward, would establish a nine-county agency to address transportation needs for the elderly, the disabled and veterans by coordinating with local volunteers.

Commissioners unanimously signed off on Stewart, Inc. to continue as the architect for the East Lincoln Rescue Squad Park, for which a PARTF grant of more than $350,000 was recently awarded to the county. They also authorized County Manager George Wood and Public Works Director Don Chamblee to negotiate a fee for final plans and construction documents for the park.

Commissioners unanimously approved of authorizing Wood to work with the Board of Education and an architect on the possible installation of a freezer facility at the old hospital building on Gamble Drive in Lincolnton for the school system’s Food Service Division, to be paid for by its cafeteria fund. The freezer locker would allow them to buy food in larger quantities and could result in significant savings.

Commissioners unanimously approved of criminal and driving background checks for volunteer fire departments. Assistant County Manager Martha Lide said they are looking into doing the same for all county employees.

A public hearing regarding a request for a conditional-use permit to establish a solar-power generation facility from Strata Solar was postponed. The proposed 35-acre site is located on Triple H Lane, about 1,200 feet west of Maiden Highway in Lincolnton Township.

Andrew Bryant, interim director of the county’s Planning and Inspections Department, presented updates on the planning staff’s quasi-judicial training. Mitchem suggested a joint meeting be conducted with commissioners regarding lessons learned during the training to make sure proper procedures are followed during public hearings.


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