robeson county

Vaccine hesitancy is rife in rural North Carolina

Robeson County is stuck at about 25% vaccinated:

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday more than 50% of adults 18 and older in the state have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 43% of the adult population is fully vaccinated against the virus.

In Robeson County, 25.6% of adults are vaccinated, according to Bill Smith, county Health Department director. The county has 101,622 residents who are 18 years old and older. Of that population segment, 26,033 have been vaccinated. For the entire Robeson County population of 130,620 people only 20% have been vaccinated. That takes into account that almost 26,000 Robesonians are too young to get vaccinated.

We're not talking about a slight deviation from the state average, that's half of it. And this attempt to focus on young people doesn't account for that huge gap either:

Robeson County Commissioners face lawsuit over pipeline permitting

Holding a sham hearing when you've already made up your mind:

During a quasi-judicial hearing in August 2017, the eight-member commission voted unanimously to grant a Conditional Use Permit to ACP, LLC to construct the facility on land previously zoned as agricultural. But the rules governing quasi-judicial hearings, which much like a trial include sworn testimony and evidence, are strict and clearly laid out in state statute.

And in deciding on special permits, the governing board, in this case the Robeson County Commission, can’t have a “fixed opinion” on the issue before hearing all of the evidence. To do otherwise would be akin to a judge or jury issuing a verdict before a trial even began. But as court documents show, the commissioners strongly supported the ACP long before they were confronted with the decision to issue a special permit for the station and tower.

I've had to "preside" over a few of these quasi-judicial hearings myself, and you have to watch every step you take. In this particular case, what they said in the weeks or months before the hearing will (likely) not be nearly as important as the procedural process itself. If they crossed their t's and dotted their i's, and if the applicant's testimony was not obviously incorrect or deceptive, the Commissioners will probably skate on this lawsuit. And even this "ex parte" allegation may not have the teeth the complainants think it does:

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