County ‘bans the box,’ picks courthouse architect

County ‘bans the box,’ picks courthouse architect
April 19
01:00 2018

Forsyth County Commissioners voted to “Ban the Box” by removing the question about criminal records from county job applications during its Thursday, April 12, meeting.

Commissioners received letters requesting the change to its job applications from a coalition of about 100 people from various churches, nonprofits and civic organizations coordinated by the All God’s Children Ministry Team at Knollwood Baptist Church.

The resolution, which received unanimous approval, authorized the creation of a Fair Chance Employment Policy to ensure those with criminal convictions that are not related to the job they’re applying for get fair consideration. Language from an earlier proposed resolution that said the county encourages private employers to do the same thing, which Commissioner Gloria Whisenhunt was uncomfortable with, was not present in the final version.

County staff are formatting the Fair Chance policy and the criminal record question has already been removed from the county’s applications, except for applications for Sheriff’s Office positions that are required by state law to ask that question. The county will still do a criminal background check for every application.

Fair Chance Employment activists were pleased. Lisa Sykes, a project leader with All God’s Children, said their efforts were successful. Former Chamber of Commerce President Gayle Anderson was glad to see the county join the City of Winston-Salem in the “Ban the Box” movement.

“Now that the city and the county have both taken this action, we hope this will encourage employers in the private sector … to do the same thing,” said Anderson.

In another item, commissioners voted to pick CJMW Architecture, P.A. to provide architectural and engineering services for the new courthouse that will be built next to the County Government Center on Chestnut Street. CJMW was among five firms that bid for the project and was selected by a committee of courthouse stakeholders as the most qualified. The proposed fee for the firm’s services will not exceed $7.35 million. Design should be completed by Fall 2019 on the project with construction expected to be complete by late 2021.

Commissioners also approved $115 million in Limited Obligation Bonds for construction of the new court facilities.

“This gets this project off and running,” said County Manager Dudley Watts.

Also during the meeting, there was a 5-2 vote on hiring a new auditor firm for the regular year-end independent audits of the county’s finances. Commissioners Fleming El-Amin and Everette Witherspoon voted for Cherry Bekaert LLP, which has done the audit for several years and was the firm recommend by staff. While Commissioner Vice Chair Don Martin acknowledged Cherry Bekaert did a great job, he felt audits require a fresh set of eyes every few years and wanted to bring in a new firm.  The new firm Martin and the other commissioners voted for was Elliott Davis, PLLC that will do the audit for this fiscal year along with fiscal years 2018-2019 and 2019-2020.  The audit for this year will cost $64,788.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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