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Board moves forward with possible tobacco store restrictions, new splash pad in Gray’s Creek


During Thursday’s agenda session, Cumberland County commissioners approved a number of items to be added to the consent agenda of their next regular meeting — including potential limits on the locations of smoke and tobacco shops. Here’s what to know and what happens next: 

Tobacco shops restriction 

  • What happened: At the request of Vice Chairman Glenn Adams, county attorney Rick Moorefield presented a proposal of potential restrictions on the location of tobacco and vape shops in the county. After hearing the proposal, commissioners unanimously voted to add the matter to the consent agenda for the next regular meeting on Nov. 20.

The proposed ordinance would prohibit stores that primarily sell smoking or electronic tobacco and hemp products from operating within 1,000 feet of another vape shop, a school, park, greenway or residence. 

Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Marvin Connelly was in attendance at the session and spoke in support of the potential ordinance due to its potential impact on local schools. Adams also suggested a second ordinance that would ban vaping on county property. Smoking has been banned on county property since 2013. 

  • Why it matters: Tobacco use is decreasing in high schools but increasing in middle schools, according to recent Food and Drug Administration data. In 2023, 12.6% of high schoolers used tobacco, compared to 16.5% in 2022. Middle schooler use of tobacco has increased by 2.1% over the last year. 
  • What’s next: The potential ordinance would have to be reviewed by the county planning board — the health board is already in favor of the ordinance — and brought back to commissioners. The ordinance will be brought to the commissioners’ Nov. 20 meeting. 

Jail health care contract 

  • What happened: Commissioners voted unanimously to approve an approximately $4.5 million contract with Wellpath to provide health care to detainees at the Cumberland County Detention Center. Wellpath has been working with the detention center since July to provide medical services. The contract with the company will last until the end of June 2024. As part of the motion, commissioners approved an additional $1.7 million in funds to supplement the current approved jail health budget of $3.5 million.
  • Why it matters: The contract will provide health care to detainees at the Cumberland County Detention Center including health assessments, dental services, mental health care, pathology and radiology, and vision services
  • What’s next: Commissioners will add the matter to their consent agenda at the Nov. 20 meeting. 

RSV vaccine approval  

  • What happened: Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a proposal from the Cumberland County Dept. of Public Health to update administrative fees for Covid-19 and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) vaccines, and waive fees for RSV vaccines for uninsured and underinsured adults over the age of 65. 
  • Why it matters: RSV is a common respiratory virus that typically causes mild symptoms but can be severe in infants and older adults, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccines and treatments are available but are in high demand and may be expensive for uninsured and underinsured older adults. The costs of the vaccines will be at no or low cost. All Covid-19 vaccines will remain free — but there will be fees to cover the costs of billing insurance companies of insured patients. The administrative fees for Covid-19 vaccines will be covered through federal funding at the county health center. 
  • What’s next: Commissioners will add the matter to their consent agenda at the next meeting. 

Parks and Recreation projects 

  • What happened: Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of approving the Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation Dept. requests for $300,000 to install lighting at the J.D. Pone Recreation Center Athletic Field, and $155,000 for a new drainfield system at Arnette Park. Commissioner Glenn Adams requested they add a splash pad at J.D. Pone Recreation Center as well. Chairwoman Toni Stewart agreed with Adams.
  • Why it matters: The Ruritan Club provided space for athletics previously for Grays Creek, but that partnership has since ended. According to Michael Gibson, the director of Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation, students at Grays Creek High School use the space for sports practice, and need proper lighting for evening practices for sports. Arnette Park is on a 60-year-old septic system that has reached its end of life cycle and also needs a new septic system.  
  • What’s next: The item will be revised to add a splash pad to J.D. Pone Recreation Center and be added to the consent agenda for the next commissioner meeting.

Medicaid Expansion Plan 

  • What happened: Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of approving the Cumberland County Dept. of Social Services Medicaid expansion plan. The plan will cost $2.4 million in county funds and will operate in multiple phases. The proposal includes a local readiness alert, promoting ePASS, a N.C program to apply for Medicaid, and the approval of 25 new support positions for the Medicaid expansion, four foreign language interpreters and additional training positions. 
  • Why it matters: An estimated 35,000 to 40,000 Cumberland County residents will be eligible for Medicaid expansion once it begins in North Carolina on Dec. 1.
  • What’s next: Commissioners will add the matter to their consent agenda at the next meeting on Nov. 20. 

Other items of business:

Commissioner Jimmy Keefe gave a presentation on his idea to use city property near West Rowan Street and Bragg Boulevard to create a farmers market and event space to promote  healthy eating and international community building. 

Commissioners approved the expansion of the enforcement of the county's ordinance on abandoned or junked vehicles into the municipalities of Cumberland County. This expansion would allow municipalities to adopt the ordinance and partner with the county to enforce the removal of junked or abandoned motor vehicles. 

A similar ordinance expansion was also approved for the county to enforce its minimum housing and non-residential building code throughout the municipalities of Linden, Wade, Eastover, Falcon, Stedman and Godwin.

The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners will hold its next regular meeting at 6:45 p.m. on Nov. 20 at the Judge E. Maurice Braswell Courthouse. 

Note: Absent at this meeting were commissioners Michael Boose and Jeannette Council. 

Contact Char Morrison at cmorrison@cityviewnc.com.

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