North Carolina updates StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit

Sixty percent of North Carolinians over 18 have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

RALEIGH: Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. shared updated public health guidance for K-12 schools to follow in the upcoming school year.

“The most important work our state will do next month is getting all our school children back into the classrooms safely for in-person learning,” said Governor Cooper. “That’s the best way for them to learn, and we want their school days to be as close to normal as possible, especially after a year of disruption.”

The updated StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit is aligned with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Academy of Pediatrics guidance, which urges that everything possible is done to keep students in schools and emphasizes continued masking. The Toolkit says schools with students in kindergarten through eighth grade should require all children and staff to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Schools with students in 9th through 12th grades should ensure that anyone who isn’t fully vaccinated, including students, wear a mask indoors.

This guidance is effective July 30th and local school leaders are responsible for requiring and implementing protocols in the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit in consultation with their local health departments.

The Toolkit also updates additional measures for schools related to quarantining after COVID exposure, physical distancing, testing, transportation, cleaning, and other considerations.

State health officials continue to urge unvaccinated people to follow CDC and NCDHHS guidance and wear a mask indoors. When Executive Order 220 expires at the end of July, North Carolina businesses and other entities where masks are required will make their own decisions about requiring masks, with strong guidance provided by NCDHHS. Everyone, regardless of vaccine status, should still wear a mask in certain places such as public transportation and healthcare facilities.

“Get vaccinated right now if you haven’t. We are seeing the impact of the very contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 and it’s hitting those who are unvaccinated hard,” said Secretary Cohen. “Schools need to use the additional safety protocols outlined in the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit to continue to protect students and staff as we enter the new school year.”

To date, North Carolina has administered more than 9.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 56 percent of the adult population fully vaccinated. Sixty percent of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, including 86 percent of people 65 and over.

Learn more about the state’s vaccine distribution at (English) or (Spanish). Details on the Your Shot at $1 Million Summer Cash Drawing can be found at Use NCDHHS’ online tool Find a Vaccine Location to find a nearby vaccine site. Call the state’s COVID-19 vaccine hotline at 888-675-4567.

Read the updated StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit.

Does your hurricane preparedness plan include your pets?

Here is a handy checklist of items you may need for your pet

Your family hurricane preparedness kit includes water for the entire family, but did you include water for the family pet(s)?

Water, medication, and the family pet’s important papers are needed as well. It’s a lot to think about in a time of disaster, so prepare now for the safety of your animals.



Bentfield named new Pender County Fire Marshal

PENDER COUNTY – Pender County Emergency Management recently announced the hiring of Robert Bentfield as the new Fire Marshal, a position vacated when Tommy Batson was named the Pender County Emergency Director.

Bentfield, a Pender County resident, joined the Wilmington Fire Department in March 1998. He is a trained firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician. He served as a Master Firefighter and was transferred to the Fire Marshal’s office to perform fire safety inspections and fire investigations. In 2021 he was promoted to the rank of Captain.

Bentfield, who had obtained his North Carolina Fire Inspector Level III designation as well securing the title of International Association of Arson Investigators Fire Investigation Technician (IAAI FIT), decided in 2015 to return to college to obtain a degree in Fire Science.

“Robert brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the role of Fire Marshal for our county,” said Tommy Batson, Pender County Emergency Manager.

“As a resident of Pender County, I look forward to serving the residents and business owners of Pender County,” said Bentfield.

Bentfield is responsible for Plan Reviews for construction projects, construction inspections, building safety inspections, foster care inspections, fire education, citizen complaints, fire investigations, and assists the Emergency Management Director when needed.

A native of Michigan, Bentfield served in the US Marine Corps. He is married to his wife, Jamie. The couple has two sons, Jamison, and Jaxson. They are members of Scotts Hill Baptist Church.

The Pender County Fire Marshal may be reached at the Pender County Emergency Operations Center at 910-259-1210.


Pender County reports progress on floodplain management

BURGAW – Pender County Floodplain Administrator Daniel Adams reported progress on the county’s 34-point mitigation action strategies identified in the Hazard Mitigation Plan.

“Last year Pender County joined the Community Rating System (CRS), which is a FEMA program that provides discounts to flood insurance policyholders in the county for various creditable activities completed by staff,” said Adams. “Each year we have to recertify that we’re continuing to complete the creditable activities that earn points towards those policy discounts.”

One of those activities is a progress report on mitigation action strategies that were identified in the Hazard Mitigation Plan related to floodplain management and providing information to the public.

“We continue to work on all 34 points identified in the Hazard Mitigation Plan,” said Adams.

Among the items in the progress report was the county’s provision to provide information regarding floodplain mapping to help citizens better understand flood risk for their property or a property they may be interested in purchasing.

“We provide this service in person and online,” Adams said.

The Planning Department has two Certified Floodplain Managers on staff who can assist citizens with floodplain development or flood insurance-related questions.

Pender County applies for all available funding from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) to assist with the mitigation of severe repetitive loss properties to relocate or remove structures from the floodplain. Pender County submitted 264 applications for property owner assistance under HMGP Matthew and HMGP Florence to mitigate each of these structures from future flood events.

Adams said the progress report is available on the county’s website,

Activity 510 - Annual Progress Report Memo

Pender County provides elections brochures and videos

BURGAW – Pender County Board of Elections released eight brochures and videos to provide accurate information in the elections process. These helpful brochures cover topics such as candidate information, voter registration, a voter guide, and an elections guide.

“Using new, free animated software, we created a character named ELIN, which stands for Election Information,” Susan Williams, Pender County Board of Elections director. “ELIN covers election law and provides information on various voting methods.”

Two of the eight videos are now available on the county website,, at and

The eight brochures are titled: Welcome ELIN Guide, Candidate Guide, MAT Teams Guide (Multi-partisan Assistance Team), Precinct Official Guide, Elections Guide, Voter Guide, and Registration Drive Guide. The Pender County Board of Elections staff created a guide for children that is filled with fun facts about voting and crossword puzzles.

Williams said the easy-to-follow brochures and the ELIN videos were created to make election law easy to understand and to encourage more people to get involved through MATs Teams, work at a polling booth, how to become a precinct official, or how to become a candidate.

“The Board of Elections has the legal and moral responsibility for protecting the will of the people and our democracy as a concept and form of government,” said Williams. “Pender County Board of Elections is the first step in democracy by providing efficient, fair, and open elections. That is our goal in creating these easy-to-follow brochures.”

The brochures can be found at the Board of Elections, 807 S. Walker St., as well as the Central Administration building’s front entrance, the Burgaw and Hampstead branch libraries, the Hampstead Annex, the county’s social services, health department, and at the tourism office in Burgaw.

For more information call the Board of Elections at 910-259-1220.

Request for Information for an Audio Visual System for the Emergency Operations Center

Pender County Emergency Management is seeking information on replacing our audio/visual system for our Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and board room.  The EOC is designed to support emergency response, business continuity and crisis communications activities. Staff meets at the EOC to manage preparations for an impending event or manage the response to an ongoing incident. By gathering the decision makers together and supplying them with the most current information, better decisions can be made.  The county is interested in multiple technology options, ranging from a basic set up to more elaborate options that best utilize modern technology.  The current equipment is over ten years old.  The County is interested in exploring the use of smart boards, video walls, as well as TVs or projection screens to display cable TV, satellite TV and to mirror computer screens—all to be controlled with a single remote.  This Request for Information (RFI) is intended to collect information and recommendations regarding a Audio Visual System for the EOC. Click here for the full RFI # 210713-201.  Responses are due August 13 by 3pm EST to and/or to Tommy Batson, Pender County Emergency Management Department, 805 Ridgewood Avenue, Burgaw, NC  28425.  Pender County reserves the right to reject any or all responses.

Request for Proposals for Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Master Plan Update

Pender County, NC is requesting  proposals from qualified vendors for the update of an existing Comprehensive Parks and Recreation Master Plan.  The requested plan will update the current 2010 Parks and Recreation Master Plan, providing a 10-year vision for parks, recreation areas, open space, trails, facilities, programing and addressing recommended action items from the Pender 2.0 Comprehensive Land Use Plan. The plan should include research, public involvement, the development of recommendations and implementation measures for acquisitions and development, as well as the identification of recreation service districts, and assignment of monetary value to recreational amenities/units. The selected vendor will have proven experience and knowledge in parks and recreation planning, project management, and effective public involvement processes.   Click here for the full RFP # 210713-202.  Proposals are due August 12 by 3pm EST to Vanessa Lacer,, Pender County Planning and Community Development Department, PO Box 5, 805 S. Walker Street, Burgaw, NC  28425.

Pender County Courthouse Open House, Aug. 6

BURGAW – The Pender County Board of Commissioners will host an open house of the restored and renovated Pender County Courthouse. The open house is slated for Aug. 6, from 3-5 p.m. At 4 p.m. the commissioners and dignitaries will conduct a brief dedication and installation of a new plaque to celebrate the occasion.

Damaged during Hurricane Florence, the county used the construction period to make the building more resilient.

“Our goal in this construction project is to make this historic building more resilient and preserve it for future generations,” said Allen Vann, Assistant County Manager who oversaw the courthouse project.

The scope of the project included repairing storm damage as well as renovate and relocate new mechanical and electrical systems. The courthouse also required lead and asbestos abatement, ADA improvements, and repair and replacement of plaster work, as well as custom woodworking, a new elevator shaft, and new courthouse seating.

Exterior work included brick repointing as well as replacement, sealing, and painting of weathered wood around the windows, doors, and roofline. Vann added that these measures protect the building from rainwater and moisture.

“A generator has been added that will power up the entire building, including the HVAC system,” said Vann. “Mechanical and electrical equipment were relocated to the main floor from the basement.”

“The courthouse was built in 1938 and has served Pender County for decades,” said George Brown, Chairman of the Board of County Commissions. “We look forward to hosting an open house on Aug. 6, from 3-5 p.m.”

The Pender County Courthouse, built in a Georgian Revival architectural style, features, handsome interior features of raised paneled wainscots and broken pedimented overdoors, as documented by the National Register of Historic Places.

“The public is welcomed to this much anticipated open house,” said Brown.

The Pender County Courthouse is located at 100 S. Wright St. in Historic Downtown Burgaw.


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COVID-19 vaccination appointments are NOW being accepted for everyone 12 years and older. Schedule your appointment in Burgaw or Hampstead. (Moderna vaccine is only approved for age 18 and up.)