Celebrating the life of a remarkable public servant opened Monday’s meeting of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners, followed by a look at how American Rescue Plan Funds are helping the community, a new revenue source at the landfill and more. Check out the highlights below.
Remembering Commissioner Hays
Following the opening prayer and Pledge of Allegiance, Board Chair Bill Rivenbark led the audience in a moment of silence to honor the memory of former Commissioner Deb Hays who died unexpectedly on March 25. Commissioners shared their personal thoughts and memories of their friendship with Hays over the years. A tribute video honoring the legacy of Hays during her time as a Commissioner can be seen here:
The celebration of Hays’ life will continue at 1 p.m. on April 5 with a tree planting dedication and community gathering at Airlie Gardens. Details of the event can be found here.
American Rescue Plan funding update
Two years ago, New Hanover County Commissioners became the first municipal government in the country to approve a framework to allocate American Rescue Plan funds, with a goal of helping local businesses and households in need of support from financial struggles associated with the pandemic.
With a little more than half of the $45 million already spent, Commissioners were given an update of what the funding has accomplished thus far at Monday’s meeting. Some of the highlights included:
- Financial support for 100 small businesses and 30 nonprofit organizations
- 316 households with mortgage assistance
- 495 Cape Fear Public Utility Authority customers to keep their bills from going in arears
- 164 families with school-aged children receiving broadband service
- 390 individuals with job training through StepUp Wilmington
- 124 households with rental assistance
The remaining $24.2 million must be obligated by December 31, 2024 and spent within two years. View a summary here of ARP funds and what they are being used for.
Making gas money
Commissioners also unanimously approved a contract with Archaea Energy to create a renewable natural gas harvesting facility at the county landfill. It will capture natural gas from the landfill system and convert it into renewable natural gas for resell. Construction of the complex and infrastructure to harvest the gas will take approximately two years.
Landfill gas is a natural by-product of waste decomposition. This gas is composed of approximately 50 percent methane, 50 percent carbon dioxide, and a trace amount of non-methane organic compounds. So, by capturing and conditioning this gas, it will reduce the landfill’s emissions while generating clean, renewable energy.
Per the agreement, New Hanover County is also estimated to make between $900,000 to $1.2 million per year off gas that is resold over the next 20 years, making this an important and innovative project for both financial and environmental stewardship.
That’s not all …
A pair of proclamations were unanimously approved for April, related to the work being done by the team at Health and Human Services. The first was for National Public Health Week, which takes place April 3-9. This year’s theme is “Centering and Celebrating Cultures in Health.” New Hanover County Health and Human Services is working to protect citizens from infectious disease and environmental threats, while providing education and outreach in a variety of languages and mediums aimed at promoting a healthy way of life.
The second was a monthlong focus on Child Abuse Prevention month. Last year alone, New Hanover County’s Child Protective Services investigated or assessed almost 2,000 reports of abuse. Community members are encouraged to assist by being supportive of families, especially during difficult times, to help strengthen the community. Both proclamations can be seen here.
Two public hearings were held for Planning and Land use items, both of which were approved unanimously. Two other public hearings were requested to be continued to the May 1 Board of Commissioners meeting, both of which were granted.
You can view the April 3 meeting here and below. The next regular meeting of the Board of Commissioners is set for 9 a.m. on April 17.
The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners holds its regularly scheduled meetings on the first and third Monday of each month, unless otherwise noted. These meetings take place at the New Hanover County Historic Courthouse (24 North 3rd Street, Room 301). A schedule of the 2023 meetings can be found here.
All meetings are broadcast live on NHCTV.com, New Hanover County's YouTube channel and Spectrum channel 13. For meeting agendas, minutes and exhibits, visit Commissioners.NHCgov.com.