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Woolard honored by NCHSAA

WILLIAMSTON - Riverside High School Athletic Director Phil Woodard, has been selected to receive the Charlie Adams Distinguished Service Award.

The Charlie Adams Distinguished Service Awards, named for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s late, long-time Executive Director, are given per region and go to a person with at least 10 years of experience in education and athletics who is still active in the field and has regularly gone “above and beyond” the call of duty at both the local and the state level.

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) presented this special award at the virtual regional meeting on Oct. 5. The award was presented by Commissioner Que Tucker and Assistant Commissioner Tra Waters.

Phil Woolard grew up in Plymouth, North Carolina and graduated from Lawrence Academy. He graduated from East Carolina University class of 1992 with a degree in history.

Woolard began coaching part time at North Pitt High School in 1995, assisting in football and baseball.

One of his early coaching mentors, Preston Bowers, and Woolard’s wife, Rebecca, began to push Woolard to finish his history education degree. Woolard begin his teaching career in 1998.

Woolard continued teaching and coaching at North Pitt until 2015, adding tennis to his résumé the last five years. In February of 2015, he moved to Riverside High School and began coaching tennis and assisting with baseball until he became athletic director in 2017.

Woolard loves the challenge of coordinating sporting events and seeing his students excel on the field of play. He has found pride even in the COVID-19 craziness in his student-athletes’ ability to improvise, adapt and overcome.

Andre’ Alfred can be reached via email at aalfred@ncweeklies.com.

Eliminating barriers

ROBERSONVILLE - Once a coach, always a coach. And Asim McGill is just fine with that.

Last week, McGill found himself back on the football field, helping carry out his new mission in his new capacity as Martin County Schools’ Director of Student and Family Involvement

As part of the strategic plans of Martin County Schools and the MCS Board of Education, MCS looked for a way to provide extracurricular activities in the Robersonville area.

One of his first efforts out of the gate was to begin offering opportunities not readily available to students in the South Creek attendance area (Robersonville, Oak City, Hamilton, Gold Point, Parmele). With a little help from volunteer coaches and the South Creek High School Varsity Cheerleaders, an idea quickly became a reality.

The first Cougar Sports Camp was held at South Creek Elementary School in Robersonville Oct. 11-14. Activities were held daily immediately after school.

“We had 26 boys for football camp and 33 girls for cheerleading,” an excited McGill explained.

The students, from grades two through five, spent four afternoons learning the basics of both sports.

Taylor Daye, who coaches the South Creek High School Cheerleaders, led the high school students in teaching the young attendees for the week.

Da’Niyah Pettaway, a sophomore, enjoyed her teaching experience.

“The kids were amazing! They were so sweet and I loved working with them. I worked with a lot of the second graders, and they would get a little frustrated if they could not get some of the material,” she said. “I would tell them to hold my hands and let them watch my feet and they would pick it up right after. It was a lot of fun being around them with all of their high energy.”

Fellow sophomore Yasbeli Morales agreed.

“I had a great experience working with the elementary school girls,” she said, “I was extremely proud of how hard they worked. They caught on to the material a lot faster than I did, when I was trying out (for cheerleading). I think they enjoyed themselves the most when we played the games after each session. I enjoyed teaching them and making new ‘little’ friends.”

Rick Hardison, who helps coach the South Creek High School football team, and once played for McGill, volunteered his time to help with the football side of camp.

McGill explained South Creek High School had no baseball and did not complete last year’s football season.

“Ultimately we’d like to build their program back up to have that county rivalry like there once was back in the days of Roanoke and Williamston,” he said. “To do that, we have to develop interest at an early age and make the most of opportunities as we go.”

But there is much more than sports involved. McGill sees the opportunities for students to work on self-discipline, social skills, teamwork and so many other lessons that can come from sports camps or other types of camps that may come in the future.

“It all ties together,” he said. “After only knowing these students for a few days, teachers were already asking me to talk to this one or that one to encourage them to step their game up so they could play,” McGill said.

That gave him the opportunity to help the campers understand the commitment and expectations of athletes at the next level.

One important part in helping to offer these opportunities closer to home, something those in the South Creek attendance area have rarely known.

“We were listening when parents at the Community Meeting at South Creek High School told us they didn’t want to have to go to Tarboro and other places simply for opportunities like this for their children,” said McGill.

“Coach McGill is doing a great job,” according to Dr. David Fonseca, Superintendent of Martin County Schools, calling him a “great addition to the MCS Leadership Team”.

“The immediate, positive response to the first camp is very exciting,” said Fonseca. “This is just the beginning.”

Quilt block reinstalled at Old Martin County Courthouse

WILLIAMSTON - The Quilt Block has been re-installed at Old Martin County Courthouse.

The Friends of the Old Martin County Courthouse are pleased to let the community know that the Quilt Block which is part of the Quilt Trails of the Tar and Roanoke Rivers has been recently re-installed. The cultural and historical designated Quilt Block is sponsored by the North Carolina Arts Council.

“It is exciting to be included in to Quilt Trails of the Tar and Roanoke Rivers. The Quilt Block was damaged by the weather and it is exciting to be back up and running” stated John Brandon.

The Quilt trails is an arts council project that captures the history of the community through the display of quilt blocks on historic buildings and structures in Eastern North Carolina.

Brandon added, “The courthouse building is maintained by a nonprofit organization that works hard to maintain the building and the quilt block.”

Quilt Trails of the Tar and Roanoke Rivers is the only official quilt trail in Eastern North Carolina. It has a priority to bring tourist to the area to explore the rural heritage. Each block has a different story to tell about the location and the owners.

The quilt rails in North Carolina originated in Franklin County. If a historical landmark would like to be a part of the Quilt Trails of the Tar and Roanoke Rivers all one has to do is apply at http://fcacarts.org/quilt-trails.aspx, once approved the landmark would have to display the block and they would also be featured int eh brochure along with on the map.

The Quilt Trails of the Tar and Roanoke Rivers are just like the quilt trails in the mountains of North Carolina, just they are closer. They bring the tradition of the Piedmont counties that border the Tar and Roanoke Rivers.

The trails aspire to educate and provide history on the region, each block features a pattern inspired by the place where it hangs.

There are several blocks located here in Martin County. There are ten that are located just in Williamston.

Those 10 consist of Chloe’s Lemonyne Star (Big Mill B & B), Crossed Canoes (Martin County Arts Council), Oak Leaf (Martin County Historical Society Asa Bigg’s House), Courthouse Steps (Friends of the Old Martin County Courthouse), Shoo Fly (John A Griffin County Store), Outdoor Family Memories (Green Acres Campground), Bowtie (Jimmie Council’s Automotive), Tobacco Time (Moratoc Park), Yucca Plant (Yucca House) and Four Airplanes (Martin Co. Airport).

The following quilt blocks in Martin County are located in the different towns. There are quilt blocks located in Oak City, Robersonville and Hamilton all in the County.

The location of the quilt blocks can be found on the brochure for the Quilt Trails of the Tar and Roanoke Rivers. The brochure can be found at www.visitmartincounty.com.

COVID-19 claims 6 more lives in Martin County

WILLIAMSTON - Martin County lost six more lives to COVID-19 sin the past week, despite the active case count dramatically decreasing to below 250 cases for the first time in weeks.

Martin County and the surrounding counties are finally seeing a decline in COVID-19 cases since the current spike in cases began over the summer.

According to a latest report from Martin-Tyrrell-Washington District Health Director Wes Gray before going to press Wednesday, there have been a total of 3,666 cases of COVID-19 in Martin County. There are currently 241 active cases in Martin County, which includes three new cases reported in the last 24 hours. Of the overall cases, there have been 114 breakthrough cases.

According to Gray, a vaccine breakthrough infection is defined as the detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA or antigen in a respiratory specimen collected from a person 14 days after they have completed all recommended doses of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized COVID-19 vaccine.

There have been 72 deaths in Martin County since the worldwide pandemic began. This is an increase of six COVID-19 related deaths in Martin County in the last week.

“Our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the patients,” said Gray.

Martin County has had 35 new positive cases over the last week. This is a decrease in the number of new cases being reported each week.

There have been a total of 553 COVID-19 cases in Tyrrell County. There are currently 31 active cases in Tyrrell County, including no new cases in the last 24 hours. There have been nine breakthrough cases.

Tyrrell County has had seven COVID-19 related deaths since the worldwide pandemic began. This includes no new deaths since last week’s update.

Tyrrell County has only reported six new positive cases in the last week.

A total of 1,603 COVID-19 cases in Washington County. There are currently 95 active cases in Washington County, including one new case in the last 24 hours. There have been 37 breakthrough cases.

Washington County has had 37 COVID-19 related deaths since the worldwide pandemic began. There have been no new deaths reported in the last week.

Washington County has has 15 new positive cases reported since last week’s report.

Currently, there are 12 individuals hospitalized regionally. This is a decrease of seven hospitalizations since last week’s update.

There have been 1,455,188 total cases and 17,575 deaths in North Carolina, 45,923,173 total cases and 746,813 deaths in the United States and 242,190,723 total cases and 4,925,365 deaths globally.

According to the Martin County Schools COVID-19 Dashboard, there have been 213 total cases of COVID-19 throughout the district since the start of school on Aug. 23, including 176 students and 37 staff members.

The dashboard shows 11 total current COVID-19 cases, including 10 students and one staff member.

E.J. Hayes Elementary School has three student cases and Jamesville Elementary School has one student case. South Creek High School has one confirmed student case.

Riverside High School has three students and one staff member who have tested positive. Riverside Middle School has had one student test positive and Williamston Primary School has had one student and one staff member test positive.

As of Oct. 19, there are three ongoing outbreaks within the region. The outbreak totals are from the beginning of the outbreak and not active totals.

There is an outbreak in Martin County at the Carrolton of Williamston Nursing Home, where 14 staff members and 44 residents have tested positive. Another outbreak in Martin County was reported at Vintage Inn, a residential care facility, where two staff members have tested positive.

An outbreak in Washington County is at the Carrolton of Plymouth Nursing Home where four staff members have tested positive.

No deaths have been affiliated with the facility outbreaks.

In Martin County, 11,602 residents, or 52 percent of the 22,440 have received their first vaccination, and 10,716 residents or 48 percent have been fully vaccinated.

In Washington County, 5,964 residents, or 52 percent of the 11,582 have received their first vaccination, and 5,248 residents or 45 percent have been fully vaccinated.

In Tyrrell County, 1,938 residents or 48 percent of 4,016 have received their first vaccination, and 1,804 residents or 45 percent are fully vaccinated.

As of Oct.19, there have been 37,476 total diagnostic tests completed in Martin County. This is 167 percent of the population. Washington County has had 20,859 total diagnostic tests completed. This is 180.1 percent of the population. Tyrrell County has had 4,992 total diagnostic tests completed. This is 124.3 percent of the population.

From Oct. 3 through Oct. 16, Martin County has had a positive test rate of 7.5 percent. Washington County’s positive test rate has been 7.8 percent and Tyrrell County’s rate has been 7.8 percent.

“The best way to protect yourself is through vaccination,” said Gray.

Patients can schedule an appointment for a free COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer for ages 12 and up and Johnson & Johnson or Moderna for those ages 18 and up, in the Columbia, Plymouth or Williamston clinics by calling 252-793-3023.

The Martin County Health Department is located at 210 West Liberty St. in Williamston.

Leslie Beachboard can be reached via email at lbeachboard@ncweeklies.com.

Martin County Tax Assessor answers the question of why

WILLIAMSTON - Explanation given.

The Martin County Commissioners and the public heard a presentation from the Martin County Tax Assessor Elisha Hardison giving an explanation to several citizen concerns from the September meeting.

The concerns were over the unexpected increases and decreases of the tax value of homes recently sold in Martin county.

Before Hardison’s presentation, during the public comments , Martin County homeowner Bruce Turner questioned the recent changes to the tax value of his property.

According to Turner, the tax value of his home increased dramatically over the last six months without any major work being completed, and this not being a re-evaluation year.

Hardison provided a slideshow presentation, explaining the cause for the increases and decreases to local properties, and why the changes were legal in her opinion.

According to Hardison, re-evaluation was effective January 1, 2017. The next scheduled re-evaluation for Martin County will be Jan. 1, 2025.

She explained that each year in January property owners receive a Martin County annual real estate verification form. If property owners make any changes to the property in the previous year, he or she should indicate the type of changes and the percentage of the project complete.

The changes made to the property could cause an increase or decrease in the property’s value. Any appeals should be filed in writing prior to the adjournment of the Board of Equalization and Review.

During the month of August, homeowners should receive a bill from the Martin County Tax Office.

This year property taxes were due by Sept. 1. and are considered delinquent after Jan. 6, 2022.

If property values were not printed on the January listing form and the homeowner has not received a separate assessment notice, homeowners may appeal the property in writing by contacting the tax assessor within 30 days of the billing date on the notice. Otherwise the appeal period has ended, and no appeals will be considered.

According to Hardison, N.C. General Statue 105-287 explains the changing of appraised value of real property in years in which general reappraisal is not made

The North Carolina General Statue states:

In a year in which a general reappraisal of real property in the county is not made under G.S. 105-286, the property shall be listed at the value assigned when last appraised unless the value is changed in accordance with this section.

The assessor shall increase or decrease the appraised value of real property, as determined under G.S. 105-286, to recognize a change in the property’s value resulting from one or more of the following reasons:

• correct a clerical or mathematical error;

• correct an appraisal error resulting from a misapplication of the schedules, standards and rules used in the county’s most recent general reappraisal;

• recognize an increase or decrease in the value of the property resulting from a conservation or preservation agreement subject to Article 4 of Chapter 121 of the General Statues, the Conservation and Historic Preservation Agreement Act;

• recognize an increase or decrease in the value of the property resulting from a physical change to the land or improvements to the land, other than a change listed in subsection (b) of this section;

• recognize an increase or decrease in the value of the property resulting from a change in the legally permitted use of the property; and

• recognize an increase or decrease in the value of the property resulting from a factor other than the one listed in subsection (b)

In a year in which general reappraisal of real property in the county is not made, the assessor may not increase of decrease the reappraised value of real property, as determined under G.S. 105-286, to recognize a change in value caused by:

• normal, physical depreciation of improvements;

• inflation, deflation or other economic changes effecting the county in general; or betterments to the property made by repainting buildings or other structures, terracing or other methods of soil conservation, landscape gardening, protecting forests against fire or impounding water on marshland for non-commercial purposes to preserve or enhance the natural habitat of wildlife.

Next, Hardison explained what changes could be made to the property’s value if changed were found.

An increase or decrease in the appraised value of real property authorized by this section shall be made in accordance with the schedules, standards, and rules used in the county’s most recent general reappraisal.

An increase or decrease in appraised value made under this section is effective as of Jan. 1 of the year in which it is made and is not retroactive. The reason for an increase or decrease in appraised value made under this section need not be under the control of or at the request of the owner of the affected property.

This section does not modify or restrict the provisions of G.S. 105-312 concerning the appraisal of discovered property.

When a discovery is made, the assessor shall mail a notice to the person in whose name the discovered property has been listed.

The notice shall contain certain information including, the name and address of the person in whose name the property is listed, a brief description of the tentative appraisal of the property and/or a statement to the effect that the listing and appraisal will become final unless written exception thereto is filed with the assessor within 30 days from date of the notice.

Upon receipt of a timely exception to the notice of discovery, the assessor shall arrange a conference with the taxpayer to afford him the opportunity to present any evidence or argument he may have regarding the discovery.

Within 15 days after the conference, the assessor shall give written notice to the taxpayer of his final decision. Written notice shall not be required, however, if the taxpayer signs an agreement accepting the listing and appraisal. In cases in which agreement is not reached, the taxpayer shall have 15 days from the date of the notice to request review of the decision of the assessor by the board of equalization and review or, if that board is not in session, by the board of commissioners.

“Here is example number one. A house and lot appraised, as part of the county last general reappraisal on Jan. 1, 2017 at $200,000 that is $40,000 for the lot and $160,000 for the residence. In 2020, the county gets a report from the county building inspection department that a wood deck was added that cost $18,000. In 2021, the county reappraises the house with the new deck under the 2017 Schedules of Values at $212,000- $40,000 for the lot, $160,000 for the residence and $12,500 for the deck,” said Hardison.

Hardison also gave two other similar examples.

To put things into a different perspective, she also gave the following scenario.

“Real estate agent, Tom, lists a home for sale. It is a lovely home with many updates, including a total kitchen remodel, countertops, plumbing and appliances. Sally and Bob have been searching for a new home. They just fell in love with Tom’s new listing and purchased the home. Not even 30 days from the purchase of their new home, Sally and Bob receive a notice that their tax value has increase. This increase causes Sally and Bob’s house payment to increase by $75 a month. They are upset. Sally and Bob file an appeal with the tax assessors office. During the appeal, Sally and Bob learn the house did have a remodeled kitchen and bathroom. The seller failed to disclose the information,” Hardison explained.

According the records from the Martin County Tax Assessors Office, there were a total of 656 sale deed transfers in the county so far in 2021. There have been 1,208 parcels affected with the change of value for 2021 from 2020 in Martin County.

A reduction of $13,657,000 of value has been removed from properties during the 2021 tax year, and an increase of $24,544,000 of value has been added to properties during the 2021 tax year.

“If at any time after a general reappraisal is conducted as required by N.C. General Statue 105-286, the county assessor determines that a physical change to the land or tot he improvements on the land had increased or decreased the value of the property. The county tax assessor is required to reassess the properly,” Hardison said.

“The matter in which the assessor determines or finds the change does not matter. It can be through building permits, other taxpayers, the internet, a review of the property or the sale of the property can trigger the review. In fact, having a process in place to look at these changes in a non-reappraisal year would be following the requirements in the statues and a good practice, which would result in improved equity in assessment,” she closed.

Hardison said anyone with questions regarding the tax value on their property can contact her office at 252-789-4352, by email at elisha.hardison@martincountyncgov.com or at www.martincountyncgov/assessor.com.

Leslie Beachboard can be reached via email at lbeachboard@ncweeklies.com.