The North Carolina House of Representatives and Senate were not in session last week. However, we had an important first meeting of the new House Select Committee on N.C. River Quality, we had a day-long visit from the N.C. Commissioner of Insurance, and we had interesting county events on Saturday.
On Tuesday the N.C. Commissioner of Insurance, Mike Causey, visited Brunswick County for a schedule of five different meetings. I accompanied him all day. First was a stop at the Brunswick County Senior Resource Center at 101 Stone Chimney Road in Supply. There he made comments explaining some of the many responsibilities of the Department of Insurance. Then his Deputy Commissioner, Van Braxton, spoke about the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP). He and the SHIIP team stayed there most of the day to explain health insurance to a good crowd.
Next stop was the Supply Volunteer Fire Department. There Commissioner Causey discussed some of the efforts to help fire departments recruit and retain good volunteer and professional firefighters. We all listened to the needs of the fire department in a good roundtable style discussion.
As luck would have it, the county “All-Mayors” meeting was taking place nearby at BEMC’s meeting room. The Commissioners’ party and I had lunch with the dozen mayors in attendance and the Commissioner spoke again about the responsibilities of his department. Then we discussed various coastal property insurance issues. The mayors and I appreciated the time he took with us.
The last two stops were at the Bolivia Volunteer Fire Dept. and the Leland Fire and Rescue Dept. We had good discussions about recruiting and training good people, and purchasing of new equipment. At Leland we also talked about House Bill 340, which gives firefighters and EMS workers a retirement allowance similar to law enforcement retirees.
Last Thursday in Raleigh we held the first meeting of the House Select Committee on N.C. River Quality, which I co-chair. We heard from several organizations about the steps being taken both in the past and the future to address the concerns over river pollution in N.C. rivers, particularly the Cape Fear River. Addressing the committee were the Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Dept. of Health and Human Services (DHHS), UNC Wilmington, and Cape Fear Public Utilities Authority (CFPUA). It was an all-day informational meeting, and the first of many to come.
Back in the county on Saturday I was honored to be part of Hope for Recovery, an all-day coalition of workers in substance abuse and mental health issues. The site was the grounds of the former Brunswick County Hospital, which an organization called The Palms hopes to open as a dual diagnosis unit for substance abuse and mental illness.
Meanwhile, at Brunswick Community College, the Intercultural Festival was going on. I was able to also visit it and meet some interesting citizens of the county as well as many visitors. Many countries were represented, and our school children’s’ artwork was on display.
This week we will go into a special session on Wednesday to override vetoes and other issues. We hope to be done by week’s end.