South Hoke residents concerned over crime, speeding, form a community watch

By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • Several South Hoke residents raised concerns this week about crime and other public safety issues in their community, and asked the Hoke Board of Commissioners for help in combating the problems.

Four people spoke during the commission meeting public input session Monday night, all regarding issues with the Blue Springs Road area of South Hoke. Three residents asked for commissioners to support the sheriff’s office in addressing crime, and one resident requested that the county look into doing something to slow down speeders driving at high speeds through the area.

Dexter McDuffie, a South Hoke resident, said the community is seeing more criminal activity in recent months.

“The crime that we’re encountering, it’s just unacceptable,” he said.

McDuffie asked the board members to consider providing more funding to the sheriff’s office to increase the number of patrol officers.

Residents Shannon McDuffie, and Jacqueline Chavis likewise asked for commissioners to support the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office in cracking down on crime in the area. Chavis said a group of concerned citizens have started a neighborhood watch, working in connection with the sheriff’s office to keep an eye out for danger.

Incautious drivers in South Hoke are also posing a hazard to the people who live there. The speeding on Blue Springs Road is “getting ridiculous,” resident Ron Young commented.

Commission Chairman Southerland and Commissioner Tony Hunt spoke to the residents and acknowledged their input.

“We know Hoke County is growing and when you’ve got growth, you’ve got crime,” Southerland said.

As the county government moves into budget season for the upcoming fiscal year, adding funds for more deputies and increased deputy pay could be on the agenda, the chairman said.

Hunt asked if the county could consider helping the South Hoke community watch in seeking grant funding to support its efforts.

“When the community works with law enforcement, that’s when we make a difference with the crime going on around us,” he said.

Other business

In other business, the county is seeking a new Environmental Health director after the former director retired December 31. The job has been posted and is open for applicants.

In the meantime, the county has hired a temporary contracted specialist to work to catch up on a backlog of duties. The situation was additionally complicated due to another Environmental Health staffer being on leave, county officials said.

In planning matters, the board approved a rezoning request for the Pilgrim Manufactured Home Park, located at 108 Hobson Road, requested by 4D Site Solutions. The rezoning turned the property from Residential Agricultural (RA-20) to Residential Multi-Family (RMF) allowing for future development. The property includes three parcels of land consisting of 8.2 acres, 1.02 acres and 1.57 acres.

The commissioners additionally approved an agreement is carrying forward the sale of electricity to Lumbee River EMC from Sandy Grove Middle School, with profits estimated between $500 and $2,000 a month.

The board also heard an update from Southeastern Community Action Partnership’s Hoke center, and approved signing off on a grant application the Partnership sought to support its efforts. The Partnership helps families through self-empowerment by providing employment support, education support and housing support. Last year the organization assisted 22 families as they sought education training, employment or better employment and in matters such as financial planning and budgeting. The group also offers a youth leadership camp, held virtually this year due to the pandemic.

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