With all the committees meeting the past two weeks at the North Carolina General Assembly, it seems almost like we are in session. The last week in October, I had two official meetings in Raleigh, one in Carolina Shores, and several political meetings back here in the district. Then, last week, we had one Raleigh meeting and a variety of economic and educational events.
The week of October 23rd began with a reception at UNCW Chancellor Sartarelli’s residence in Wilmington. There we honored the new UNC Board of Governors members and I had a chance to talk with President Margaret Spellings, head of the UNC system. She had praise for UNCW and our region of the state, even telling me she was buying a house on Bald Head Island, which is a part of our district.
Then the committee meetings began with a trip to Raleigh Wednesday for the Justus-Warren Heart Disease and Stroke Task Force. We heard presentations on many of the efforts being made throughout the state to address these fatal issues. First we heard about the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) being carried out by NC Cooperative Extension and NC State to teach healthier cooking and eating in 43 of our counties and their desire to expand to all 100 counties. Other presentations were on smoking cessation efforts for youth, as well as adults, the insurance gap for smoking cessation, and preventive services for Medicaid enrollees.
Thursday morning was the House Select Committee on N.C. River Quality, of which I am Co-Chair. We heard about screening of emerging compounds in the drinking water sources in the state. We also had presentations on efforts by the N.C. Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Dept. of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and from Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA). CFPUA updated their action plan to implement Section 20a of House Bill 56 (GenX Response Measures).
After rushing back to Brunswick County for a Thursday night event, I had a Friday morning meeting of the Grand Strand Area Transportation Study (GSATS). GSATS is the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the part of the county that adjoins Horry and Georgetown counties in South Carolina. There in Carolina Shores local mayors and other officials got updates on progress on many projects in the area. In most meetings they are able to vote on issues and future projects.
The afternoon of Friday the 27th Brunswick Community College held its Scholar-Donor reception, where BCC Foundation scholarship recipients get to meet the donor who make them possible. It is always a pleasure to see the good work of the many generous volunteers and donors in the county who support education.
After catching my breath over the weekend, I drove again to Raleigh on Halloween night for a Wednesday morning meeting on the 1st. The Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform met, Senator Mike Lee of Wilmington presiding. We got a long and interesting presentation on a study by the General Assembly’s Program Evaluation Division on the allotment system that is used to allocate money from the state to Local Education Administrations (LEAs). We are in a learning phase at this first meeting and many of us asked questions. We also heard how other states allocate funds.
After returning home, I was able to on Thursday to visit two South Brunswick High School classrooms between 7:30 and noon, and heard the interesting instruction taking place in Psychology and in Civics classes. Thursday night was the Communities in Schools (CIS) Gala at Sea Trail, where funds are raised to support CIS projects aimed at keeping students in school. It was another chance to see the generous people and corporate citizens of Brunswick County.
In a departure from the Education theme of the week, on Friday I was asked to help cut the ribbon at the senior apartment complex at Sunset Creek Commons. A public/private partnership, they provide 72 residents with affordable living in a building that resembles a four star hotel.
This is a longer article due to covering two weeks filled with all kinds of meetings and events. The next two weeks promise to be just as busy.