Officials sworn in as commissioners reflect on 2016 and look toward new year

Register of Deeds Lynne Johnson is sworn in by Clerk of Court Susan Frye as her husband, Tommy, holds the Bible.

Officials sworn in as commissioners reflect on 2016 and look toward new year
December 08
05:05 2016

Photo by Todd Luck



County Commissioners reflected on 2016 and the challenges ahead as county officials where sworn in on Monday, Dec. 5.

Commissioners who won re-election this year –Dave Plyler, Richard Linville and Gloria Whisenhunt – once again took the oath of office.

Lynne Johnson, the new register of deeds, and Timothy Disher, a new soil and water supervisor, were also sworn-in. The commissioners unanimously re-elected Plyler as their chair and Don Martin as their vice-chair.

Plyler used the meeting to reflect on the past year. He considered the county bonds, which voters ratified in November, a major accomplishment. The three bonds supply $350 million in capital funds for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School, $65 million for Forsyth Technical Community College, and$15 million for county parks.

“This is an eight-year strategy to invest in our greatest assets that I believe will serve all our citizens into the future,” said Plyler.

Plyler also said the county has worked  to promote job growth. The county has begun developing a new Idols Road business park near Tanglewood Park, which already has companies that want to locate there. He said that the county’s incentives have created jobs by attracting furniture manufacturer Beaufurn to relocate to Forsyth and Corning Optical Communications, which makes fiber optic cables, to expand.

Plyler  said the ban on unsupervised teetering is the most progressive thing the county has done for dogs. The ordinance, which was long debated by commissioners and passed with a split vote, will take a year to go into effect.

He also said the new Stepping Up program will have a positive impact on those in the Law Enforcement Detention Center. The pilot program, which will serve female inmates, uses case management and intervention to reduce recidivism among the mentally ill and substance abusers in jail.

Looking to 2017, the county will be re-opening the Central Library, which has been closed for renovations since October 2014. Ground will also be broken on a new library in Kernersville. Plyler expects the reappraisal of property values to show that home values have risen in Forsyth County.

The biggest  piece of unfinished business for the commissioners is the renovation or replacement of the aging Hall of Justice courthouse. The project is estimated to cost between $112 million and $145 million and is sorely needed, according to many lawyers and judges who use the building regularly. Originally it was presented as a possible bond referendum, but many feared voters wouldn’t support it on the ballot. Commissioners instead decided to take it up separately in September, using limited obligation bonds that wouldn’t require voter approval, but never got past a presentation on possible options for the project.

Some commissioners have expressed concerns that the county would have to take on too much debt for the project.

During the commissioners’ individual remarks, Walter Marshall said that he also felt environmental concerns and increasing the requirements for minority contractors on county projects should also be a priority.

Commissioner Everette Witherspoon said that infant mortality dropping to the lowest rate in county history is something else they can take pride in this year. Witherspoon said he’d like to see early and middle college at Winston-Salem State University for high school students, and would like to see local businesses fund pre-k education for children in Forsyth County.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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