New Hanover County, N.C. – On August 14, 2021 the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) swore in its new President, Brunswick County Commissioner Frank Williams, during the NCACC’s 114th Annual Conference. Commissioners also elected Tracey Johnson, Washington County Commissioner, President-Elect, Johnnie Carswell, Chair of the Burke County Commissioners as First Vice President, and Tare “T” Davis, Chair of the Warren County Board of Commissioners as the Association’s next Second Vice President. Ronnie Smith, Martin County Commissioner, will serve as Past President. North Carolina Court of Appeals Judge and Brunswick County native, Fred Gore, administered the oath of office.
Upon taking office, President Williams announced that he will lead a new, year-long initiative, “100 Counties Prepared.” The initiative will focus on helping equip county commissioners to lead more effectively when emergency situations arise.
“The important work done by county commissioners directly affects citizens’ lives every day, and even more so during an emergency situation,” said President Williams. “One of our association’s most important responsibilities is to provide commissioners with training and tools to help us do our jobs more effectively. I cannot think of a more important topic than how to effectively lead when our citizens need us most: during an emergency.”
The 100 Counties Prepared initiative will focus on developing a training and education program and compiling emergency readiness resources for county commissioners. It also aims to help county commissioners engage with key emergency management partners to foster strategic relationships. Brunswick County Commissioner Randy Thompson and Guilford County Commissioner Kay Cashion will co-chair the initiative. Click here for more information on 100 Counties Prepared.
Williams is in his third term as a member of the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners and served as chair for four years, including during Hurricanes Florence, Dorian and Isaias. He also serves as chair of the Cape Fear Rural Planning Organization Transportation Advisory Committee and on the board of the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (WMPO). He previously served on the board of Brunswick Business & Industry Development (Brunswick BID).
Williams was elected NCACC 2nd Vice President in August 2018 and has served as 1st Vice President, President Elect, and Chair of the NCACC General Government Steering Committee. He has also served on the National Association of Counties (NaCo) International Economic Development Task Force, Broadband Task Force and Rural Action Caucus Steering Committee.
Several counties received awards from the Local Government Federal Credit Union for establishing innovative partnerships to improve services to citizens. NCACC also honored the following individuals for their achievements in support of counties.
- Virginia Thompson Oliver, NCACC Past President (1985-1986) and former Cumberland County Commissioner was honored with the NCACC Hall of Fame Award for her outstanding leadership as the Association’s first female president. Appointed commissioner in 1978, following the untimely death of her husband, Oliver went on to serve for three additional terms, including serving as chair of her board. She was instrumental in the development of Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, the county library and the merger of the city and county school systems in Cumberland County.
- Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Buncombe County Commissioner; Johnnie Carswell Burke County Commissioner; Sally Greene, Orange County Commissioner; Reece Pyrtle, Rockingham County Commissioner; and Ronnie Smith, Martin County Commissioner received the Outstanding County Commissioner Award for their contributions as members of the opioid settlement working group, also known as the 555 committee. Their work was instrumental in developing the historic statewide Memorandum of Agreement on the use of opioid settlement funds. The award honors the recipients’ work on behalf of counties beyond their own county boundaries.
- Debra Bechtel, Catawba County Attorney (retired); Gordon Watkins, Forsyth County Attorney; Ron Aycock, Special Counsel, Person County; Misty Leland, Moore County Attorney; Mark Payne, Guilford County Attorney; Becky Garland, Graham County Manager; Dena Diorio, Mecklenburg County Manager; Zee Lamb, Nash County Manager; Chris Coudriet, New Hanover County Manager; and Bobby Outten, Dare County Manager received the Presidential Recognition Award for their contributions as members of the opioid settlement working group, also known as the 555 committee. Their work was instrumental in developing the historic statewide Memorandum of Agreement on the use of opioid settlement funds.
- Hattie Gawande, Senior Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Advisor for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services received the Friend of the Counties Award in recognition of her unwavering commitment to assisting counties with COVID-19 vaccination distribution efforts. She has consistently provided critical information to counties and worked collaboratively to facilitate better public health outcomes in counties across the state.
NCACC also announced its newly elected District Directors, who will serve on the NCACC Board of Directors for a two-year term. NCACC organizes the state’s 100 counties into 18 multi-county districts, and commissioners in each district select a District Director to serve as a key conduit for information sharing between the Board of Directors and their district, communicating local issues that need attention. The following District Directors will assume their role this fall when they are officially sworn in along with other members of NCACC’s Board of Directors:
- District 1: Bob Kirby, Chowan County Commissioner
- District 3: Theron McCabe, Craven County Commissioner
- District 5: Darrel Gibson, Scotland County Commissioner
- District 7- Marcelle Smith, Halifax County Commissioner
- District 9- Kirk Smith, Lee County Commissioner
- District 11- David Allen, Randolph County Commissioner
- District 13- Scott Mulwee, Burke County Commissioner
- District 15- Myron Yoder, Polk County Commissioner
- District 17- Gayle Woody, Jackson County Commissioner
NCACC partnered with New Hanover County on this year’s conference, which was themed “Navigating the Current, Charting our Course” to recognize the historic challenges and opportunities all counties are facing. The conference, which is the year’s premier event for counties, provides a forum to conduct official Association business and offers educational and networking opportunities for commissioners and county staff.
Notable speakers included Dr. Rupert Nacoste, Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor of Psychology at North Carolina State University; Amanda Ripley, New York Times best-selling author and investigative journalist; and Lieutenant General Russell L Honoré, U.S. Army (Ret.), commander of Joint Task Force Katrina. The conference also included various workshops on important county issues such as the statewide Memorandum of Agreement on the use of national opioid settlement funds, food system resiliency, COVID-19 response, school funding, and more.