By Michael Praats | April 19, 2021 at 1:29 PM EDT – Updated April 19 at 8:24 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – The past year has been unprecedented in so many ways due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Monday morning County Chairwoman Julia Olson-Boseman gave the annual State of the County address, something that is usually held in February.
“We typically share our State of the County in early February, but we postponed this year’s a bit because we were in the height of our vaccination efforts and planning, and April felt like a great month to highlight the work of the county since it is National County Government Month,” she said.
Of course, the pandemic was at the forefront of the address, with just over 13 months since the first positive case of COVID-19 in New Hanover County.
“Thirteen months ago – on March 18 – we had our first positive case of COVID-19 and the virus was beginning to spread in our community. We quickly declared a state of emergency for New Hanover County on March 20 to ensure we had the resources needed to fight this virus. Now – more than one year later – 18,536 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and 164 of our residents have lost their lives from the virus,” Boseman said.
Despite the pandemic, the county has achieved several accomplishments this past year, she said. One of the issues the board is planning on addressing is teacher pay and school funding.
“This coming fiscal year, the Board of Commissioners plans to increase funding for our schools even more and will be specifically funding an increase for teacher supplements so that New Hanover County will rank among the very top in the state for teacher supplements,” Boseman said.
“We also plan to double the county’s allocation for Pre-K in our public schools, to increase the number of county-funded classrooms from three to six – because we know how important Kindergarten readiness is and we want to ensure children have free and equitable access to quality Pre-K,” she said.
The past year has also been unprecedented with the fact the county completed the sale of New Hanover Regional Medical Center to Novant Health, a move that caused ripples across the community and had mixed reactions from the public. Still, the sale was finalized and worth more than $1 billion for the county.
“The hospital partnership became official on February 1st of this year, and our community now has a 1.25-billion-dollar Endowment that will truly change lives. It’s going to help our most vulnerable and underserved, and bring significant resources and support to local organizations. I am so excited to see the Endowment begin its work and change our community forever,” she said.
Copyright 2021 WECT. All rights reserved.