Did you miss the Wake County Board of Commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 6? Here are the highlights:
- Wake Invests in Women Director Dr. Kasey Ashton updated the board on the program, which Wake County created with Wake Tech Community College in 201X to help close the gender wage and representation gaps in STEM fields. Wake County allocated an additional $81,000 to the program this fiscal year to grow the team, and Ashton introduced the board to Sandra Dubose, Wake Invests in Women’s new program coordinator. Ashton told the board that while labor market challenges are impacting businesses, the program is helping them use best practices to attract and support top talent. Employers enrolled in the Wake Invests in Women Challenge can utilize a data-driven toolkit of equity scorecards, a best practices database and collaboration sessions. More than 15 of the county’s top employers, including Wake County, have already joined the challenge. Company leaders can learn more and pledge their commitment to the challenge on the Wake Invests in Women website.
- On the consent agenda, the board accepted $108,834 of state funding for Wake County’s Refugee Health Clinic, which will use the recurring funds to hire an additional nurse to help coordinate outreach, documentation and vaccinations. Wake serves the largest number of refugees in NC and expects to screen more than 1,000 people this year.
- The board gave its seal of approval to move forward with plans for a new library in Rolesville. Wake County planners will work with town staff to create designs for a community library within Rolesville’s town campus in its historic downtown. Plans for the project will be presented to both the Board of Commissioners and the Rolesville Town Council in fall 2023.
- Wake County has pledged its support to the North Carolina bid to host the 2027 World University Games, which will draw more than 7,000 international athletes to compete in 19 sports over two weeks. The North Carolina bid represents the United States’ submission and is one of two finalists. The bid plan includes venues and events across the state in Greensboro, Elon, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary and Raleigh. The bid is one of two finalists and a decision from the International University Sports Federation is expected in November.
- The Board of Commissioners proclaimed September Preparedness Month in Wake County, in coordination with national efforts to encourage the creation or review of personal and business plans for disasters. As part of Preparedness Month, Wake County Emergency Management launched a new feature on its ReadyWake Alerts system – severe weather alerts. Citizens can also follow @WakeGov and @ReadyWake on Twitter all month for tips on how to best prepare your family in case of disaster.
- A key item of the meeting was a public hearing to consider changes to Wake County’s outdoor shooting ordinance (which begins at the 2:06:40 mark of the meeting video). County staff presented their research on comparable municipalities’ rules surrounding the discharge of firearms, prompted by concerns citizens brought to the board about late-night firearm noise and stray bullets.
The current ordinance has been in place for four decades to regulate where private firearms are used in unincorporated Wake County to protect public safety. The rules are enforced by the Wake County Sheriff’s Office and prohibit firearm discharge from a public street, and discharge within 100 feet of a home, public building or livestock, except when given written permission by a building’s owner. Staff noted that state law prohibits any local government from regulating the discharge of firearms used for hunting animals or birds, and sets a limit of $500 for fines levied for firearms ordinance infractions. The county attorney also noted that under state law it is already a felony to purposefully discharge a firearm into an occupied home, business, building or car.
County staff recommended that the ordinance be updated in four ways:
1) Increase the minimum distance from a dwelling, public building or livestock in which a person may discharge a firearm from 100 yards to 300 yards.
2) Require a backstop or other method of containment that adequately contains the projectile on the property from which it was discharged.
3) Prohibit the discharge of a firearm beginning two hours after sunset until one hour before sunrise.
4) Increase the maximum fine for violation from $50 to the statutory limit of $500.
During the hearing’s public comment period citizens shared a lot of feedback on outdoor shooting rules. If you missed the meeting but still want to share your views, you can write in or attend a listening session Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 6 p.m. in Knightdale’s town hall. Details and directions are online.
The board voted to table the proposed outdoor shooting ordinance amendment, and has scheduled a special work session to process the public feedback and consider all options on Monday, Sept. 19, at noon in Wake County Justice Center room 2800, before the regular board meeting at 2 p.m. Initially the board planned to have the item on the regular meeting agenda for a second reading and vote; however, tabling the item to allow for discussion means it will not receive a second reading until a later date.
- Wake County staff presented the board with a proposed spending plan for $4.8 million from the NC Department of Justice’s National Opioid Settlement that will be used to prevent and treat opioid addiction. Extensive outreach, stakeholder meetings and community priority surveys guided staff in creating a plan for Fiscal Years 2023 and 2024 that draws from existing behavioral health and overdose coalition plans. Based on community input, the plan will invest in 4 key areas: Opioid Use Disorder treatment – including mediation-assisted treatment – care navigation, early identification and intervention, and housing access and support. The board approved the Wake County Opioid Settlement Funding Plan for FY23 and FY24. More information on the settlement is available at wakegov.com/opioidsettlement.
Want to dig deeper into the board meeting? The full recording of the meeting is available to watch online, with the meeting called to order at the 51:35 mark.
The Wake County Board of Commissioners’ next regular meeting will be Monday, Sept. 19 at 2 p.m. in Room 2700 of the Wake County Justice Center.