DOBSON — The national motto will appear on two additional buildings in Surry County.
At last week’s meeting of the Surry County Board of Commissioners, county commissioners approved a plan to place the words “In God We Trust” on the Surry County Sheriff’s Office and the Surry County Detention Center.
In 2016, commissioners approved displaying the motto on the Surry County Courthouse and the Surry County Government Center.
Jonathan Barker, pastor at Amazing Grace Baptist Church and head of the Sheriff’s Office Ministry, came before the board to ask permission to display the national motto on the building.
He told county commissioners donations from his church and members of the community will pay for the project, and the work will be completed by a contractor. The motto will be able to be moved should the sheriff’s office ever move.
Sheriff Jimmy Combs said he “would be honored” to see the words displayed on the buildings he oversees.
Commissioner Van Tucker inquired as to any legal issues related to placing the words on the buildings, and County Attorney Ed Woltz indicated a U.S. Court of Appeals had ruled such a display was not unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal on that ruling.
Commissioner Larry Phillips noted the origins of government are deeply rooted in religion.
“We, the people of the State of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for the preservation of the American Union and the existence of our civil, political and religious liberties, and acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of those blessings to us and our posterity, do, for the more certain security thereof and for the better government of this State, ordain and establish this Constitution,” said Phillips as he read the preamble to the N.C. Constitution.
Commissioners approved the display unanimously.
• Commissioners also approved a contract which will outsource billing for services provided by Surry County EMS.
According to Surry County Finance Officer Sarah Bowen, EMS Management & Consultants (M.C.) will charge the county 5 percent of EMS bills to collect on EMS claims. The contract, which commissioners unanimously approved, will begin with a one-year trial.
Bowen said if all goes well during that first year, the county will have the option to continue receiving the billing services at the same 5-percent rate. The company will also help county staff manage the process should any audit take place. Those who receive services will have the option to pay bills online or over the phone.
Prior to last Monday’s meeting, County Manager Chris Knopf said the costs associated with the fees EMS M.C. charges will likely be offset by higher collection rates. The move will also protect the county in the realm of liability associated with EMS billing.
Knopf noted the company represents 50 of North Carolina’s 100 counties.
Bowen told the five members of the county board that EMS patients will see no change to the services. EMS M.C. representatives will still answer the phone with a greeting noting they are Surry County EMS representatives.
Surry County EMS Director John Shelton estimated EMS M.C. should be handling all billing by mid-July.
• Earlier in the meeting, Mount Airy area resident Rawley King took the opportunity to voice his concern about a recent change to the bylaws of the county board.
At a prior meeting, commissioners made a change to their bylaws which makes it clear any request for funding cannot be considered during the board’s open forum portion of the meeting. Requests for funding must now be routed through the finance office.
King said he believed the measure targeted veterans groups, as the change to the bylaws came shortly after the county board was asked to consider funding for a bus for the Veterans of Foreign Wars honor guard.
However, commissioners had indicated the measure had been put in place to ensure each and every request for funding which might come before the county board receives equal and fair consideration by commissioners.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.