By Tommy Mann Jr. – For The Record

Following a brief hiatus due to the Thanksgiving holiday, commissioners returned to session on Tuesday afternoon to take care of new business and unfinished business.

Orange County Commissioners Court met on Tuesday afternoon and one of the main items on the agenda was the discussion and possible creation of a new position at the Orange County Convention and Expo Center. The position would be under the direction of Sabrina Gray, Event Coordinator of the complex.

The item was placed previously on the Nov. 17 agenda but any action was postponed because the position was originally described as part-time when it was actually supposed to be a full-time position.

According to Gray, the employee in this new position would be utilized in a variety of ways at the facility, including set-up and taking down equipment before and after Expo Center events. This person would need to perform janitorial duties as well in the ballroom, Conference Room No. 2, the DuPont Room, warming kitchen, commercial kitchen and all hallways in designated rental areas.

“I need a staff person who can maintain the various rental properties and assist me with events,” Gray said as she addressed commissioners. “There’s a lot of maintenance to do around the complex too.”

Other duties, as described on the agenda, would have the employee helping maintain the grounds, such as plants and the like.

Commissioners and Gray discussed at length the possible pay-scale for this new position. At the previous meeting, Gray requested a wage increase from $8.76 per hour to $10 per hour for three part-time positions at the Expo Center. These positions are not like other county part-time jobs, where the employees work 29 hours, and are strictly limited to weekend activities at the facility.

“It might be like five hours on a Saturday or Sunday, and they may work just one weekend a month or 3 weekends in a month. It just depends on the number of events going on,” Gray said at the Nov. 17 meeting.

Gray asked for the increase in salary for those positions, which could from hotel occupancy tax funds, because of the occasional issues in having someone on standby or available on a weekend for so few hours at such a low wage.

For the new position, Gray and Commissioners agreed to start the pay at $10.38 per hour, which is at level NE -1 on the county pay matrix. The vote was approved 3-1 with Jody Crump, Precinct 4 commissioner, being the dissenting vote.

In other news, Commissioners approved a request from Ryan Peabody, the Orange County Emergency Management Coordinator, for the purchase of a machine to create identification badges for county employees.

The funds would be provided through Homeland Security grant funds and previously appropriated departmental funds with no further capital outlay funds required. Peabody said 52 percent of the purchase would be paid for by Homeland Security grant funding.

Peabody previously stated the purchase of this machine would be very beneficial for the county, as it would not only allow for proper identification of all Orange County employees, but it would serve as sufficient identification during an emergency situation like re-entering the county following a natural disaster.

Commissioners also approved several fund transfers, including one from Judge Rodney Price, Orange County Justice of the Peace in Precinct 4, for the purchase of three new scanners for his office. Each scanner is valued at $855.35. His current office scanners are approximately 10 years old and outdated.

Orange County Commissioners approved the division of a 2.06 acre tract of land, which is located in Precinct 2 of Orange County adjacent to Morris Road. According to Clark Slacum, County Engineer, the property owner requested the land division from one tract of land into a 1.39 acre tract and 0.67 acre tract so they may be sold.

John Banken, Orange County Commissioner of Precinct 3, stated prior to the end of Tuesday’s meeting that some citizens have questioned the delay in reopening stretches of Bessie Heights Road due to bridge construction.

“The bridges being replaced in the Bessie Heights area are taking longer than we anticipated, and I want to apologize to the residents in that area,” Banken said. “The wrong guardrails were ordered by the contractor and we are waiting on that.”

County Engineer Clark Slacum stated three different contractors were involved with the construction of the three bridges and the guardrails did not meet specifications for the new constructs.

“All structures are complete, but there has been a delay due to the guardrails,” Slacum explained. “As soon as the materials come in, they will be fixed. We are hoping to have the materials in this week and the bridges open by the end of the week. We didn’t want to open the bridges without the guardrails because of safety concerns.”