Richardson receives job-related reproofs|Censured for failing to meet state board’s professional standards

Published 7:53 pm Friday, September 25, 2009

Staff Writer

Beaufort County Commissioner Hood Richardson has been reprimanded twice during the past year by the N.C. Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors for failing to meet its professional standards, according to decisions and orders filed with the board.
These are the first disciplinary actions taken against Richardson, a registered land surveyor and engineer, since he was licensed more than 30 years ago, according to Andrew Ritter, executive director of the board.
“On the one hand, a reprimand is a black mark on your record,” Ritter said. “On the other hand, a reprimand is the lowest level of disciplinary action the board can take under state statutes. A reprimand with education, however, that’s pretty high up on the scale.”
“Our main goal for the punishment is that it doesn’t happen again,” he said. “We don’t think this violation will happen again with the reprimand and public education.”
Richardson was cited by the board when it met Dec. 12, 2008, for an ethics violation for failing to avoid a conflict of interest by soliciting or accepting a land-surveying contract from Beaufort County, for which he serves as a commissioner. The contract was for survey work to be performed on land formerly occupied by the Beaufort County Home.
In addition to the reprimand, Richardson was ordered to complete within three months a professional ethics course offered by New Mexico State University and receive a passing grade of at least 70 on the homework, final exam and overall score for the course.
Richardson completed an ethics course in March 2009, according to Ritter.
In an interview about the citation, Richardson said “we had thoroughly vetted” the contract.
“Sometimes you settle these things just to get them out of the way,” he said.
County Manager Paul Spruill said the contract was awarded and accepted properly under state law.
“In accordance with the N.C. General Statutes, the county was correct in awarding the surveyor work and the surveyor was correct in accepting it,” he said.
Richardson was also cited by the board for “gross negligence, incompetence or misconduct” for a survey conducted over three years ago on property owned by Rosalyn Hudson of Blounts Creek. The citation reads that Richardson “failed to report the results of a survey in a clear and factual manner,” that he “failed to monument corners,” that he “failed to describe monuments as set or found,” and “performed an inaccurate or substandard survey, failing to protect the public.”
In addition to a reprimand, Richard was ordered to successfully complete Section A Boundary Retracement of the N.C. Society of Surveyors Institute in fall 2009. That class is scheduled for November, according to Ritter
Richardson said he would have no immediate comment on that reprimand but would comment in the coming months.
Both citations were signed by Henry V. Liles Jr., chairman of the examiners board.
Richardson owns a land-surveying and consulting-engineering business. He has served as a Beaufort County commissioner since 1996, according to published reports.
He has been licensed as an engineer since 1976 and as a surveyor since 1978, Ritter said.
Information on disciplinary actions is circulated in the board’s newsletter to some 40,000 professionals and others affiliated with the board across the state, Ritter said. The two actions against Richardson were among about 75 disciplinary actions listed in the board’s fall 2009 newsletter.
Information on disciplinary actions is available to members of the public seeking information about a surveyor or engineer, Ritter said.
The N.C. Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors is charged with overseeing the licensure of engineers and surveyors who practice in the state. In addition to evaluating candidates for licensure and administering examinations, the board investigates alleged violations of provisions of the licensure law.
Any person may submit evidence of unlawful practice of engineering or land surveying, or fraud, deceit, gross negligence, incompetence, misconduct or violations of the board rules against any individual licensee or any business holding a certificate of authorization.