Board to receive an update from public defender’s office

Published 6:35 pm Saturday, June 1, 2013

Beaufort County Commissioner Hood Richardson could see one of his wishes become reality Monday.

Robert Womble, with the public defender’s office for the 1st Judicial District and the 2nd Judicial District, is scheduled to provide an update on caseloads and case-disposition figures at the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners meeting Monday. Richardson is dissatisfied with the paces of some criminal cases making their way through the court system. He’s accused Seth Edwards, district attorney for the 2nd Judicial District (which includes Beaufort County), of not trying some cases in a timely manner. Richardson asked for a report from the public defender’s office concerning its handling of cases.

At several recent board meetings, Richardson raised concerns about some inmates in the county’s jail waiting from six months to two years before their cases go to court for disposition. Richardson said the longer periods of incarceration may violate inmates’ constitutional right to a speedy trial.

The board is scheduled to hear Timmy Baynes, executive director of the Mid-East Commission, and Doug Mercer, chairman of the commission’s directors, discuss plans to build a new building to house the commission’s offices.

The commission has approached the county for assistance in possibly building its new offices on property adjacent to the Beaufort County Health Department, old Beaufort County Home and the county’s emergency-services offices on Highland Drive.

The county owns the property.

The commission is looking for a new location because it is outgrowing its current site on U.S. Highway 264 on the east side of Washington. The commission’s offices have been located in Washington since the commission’s inception in the 1960s.

The commission has conducted a preliminary site evaluation, phase 1 environmental site assessment and a hazardous-materials inspection of the property.

“Beaufort County could partner with MEC to retain ownership of the property and finance construction of the project,” reads a memorandum related to the project. “MEC would be willing to sign a long-term agreement to pay 100% of the required debt service obligation of the county. MEC would eventually request a greatly reduced lease payment for the property at the end of the county’s debt service obligation for the property. … MEC would be responsible for all operational costs of the building, including but not limited to insurance, utilities, and maintenance.”

The commissioners meet at 5 p.m. Monday at the county’s administrative offices at 121 W. Third St., Washington.



About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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