Duer Not Satisfied With Reporting on Costs of New EMS Garage

Members of the Eastern Shore branch of the Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Virginia attended the Northampton board of supervisors meeting Feb. 12, when April 25, 2019, was proclaimed Boys and Girls Club Day. The youth in attendance are flanked by Boys and Girls Club board member, Sheriff David Doughty, on the left, and board member Bill Payne (holding the proclamation), Director Kathy Custis, and Northampton supervisors’ chairman, Spencer Murray, on the right.

By Stefanie Jackson –

Northampton supervisor Robert Duer still wants answers about the true cost of the county’s new Emergency Medical Services garage in Machipongo.

When Director of Public Works Chris Thomas announced the building’s completion at the Jan. 28 supervisors meeting, Board of Supervisors Chairman Spencer Murray spoke of a ribbon-cutting ceremony, but Duer had questions.

“How can we get a spreadsheet …?” he asked. He wanted to know exactly how nearly $360,000 was spent on the project. “I’ve asked four times for it. … I think the public needs to know where every penny was spent.”

The spreadsheet was made available to the public online in time for the Feb. 12 supervisors meeting, but Duer still was not satisfied.

According to the spreadsheet, the project was under its $360,000 budget by a mere $3.95. However, Duer noted that landfill expenses were absent. “Did we haul anything to the landfill?” he asked.

He also noticed the cost of a Bobcat – a compact, heavy equipment unit used on construction sites – was not included on the spreadsheet, even though it was purchased specifically for the EMS building project.

Neither was the labor performed by county employees included in the project’s total cost.

“So, in theory, we really were over budget on the building,” Duer concluded.

“It’s not the fact that we were over budget … it’s the fact that we weren’t told” that raised his concern, Duer said.

Northampton didn’t save money with county employees doing the work, he continued. Including labor, the project cost the county $376,000, but for $360,000, “we could have had it built … by a professional,” Duer said.

According to the March 26, 2018, meeting minutes, Thomas estimated if the county took on the project, it would cost about $302,000, including labor, Duer said. County Administrator Charlie Kolakowski disagreed with Duer’s interpretation of the information.

Later, Duer spoke in favor of supervisors’ unanimous decision to approve a special use permit to put a single wide mobile home on property in Machipongo belonging to Brandon Lilly.

Because Lilly has a mental disability, his great aunt, Goldie Delcambre, submitted the permit application on his behalf.

On the application, Delcambre explained that her great nephew is homeless. He can’t rent an apartment due to disability-related issues, and a single wide mobile home is the only other housing option he can afford.

Following the affirmative vote, Duer said, “Finally, some compassion. Thank you.”

Parks and Recreation

David Kabler, chairman of the Northampton County Parks and Recreation (NCPR) advisory board, reported the department is in “great shape.”

More than 1,000 Northampton residents participate in nine programs at two facilities.

Indiantown Park, in Eastville, has been renovated and now boasts a lighted softball diamond, soccer field, 36-hole disc golf course, playground, and events pavilion.

The former Northampton Middle School, in Machipongo, is home to more than half of NCPR’s programs. The gym was recently renovated.

The NCPR board has a five-year plan to renovate the school’s sports fields and bleachers, construct a concession stand, and purchase gym equipment.

Future athletic programs may include baseball, football, lacrosse, street hockey, pickle ball, and swimming.

There is also interest in using the building as a community center. It could provide a kitchen and cafeteria for special events and an auditorium for meetings, presentations, plays, and concerts.

Other possible uses include an African-American history museum, an aquatics center, business development, child care, education, emergency medical services training, and an Eastern Shore location for the Delmarva Red Cross.

Kabler invited supervisors to “see for yourselves the depth of talent in our youth as well as the pride and support of their family and friends.”

“No longer will you have any question as to the value of dedicating county facilities and revenue to the parks and recreation department.”

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