Creating Regional Solutions Since 1971
Enfield town leaders addressed some of the town's infrastructure needs

ENFIELD — Enfield town leaders addressed some of the town's infrastructure needs at a called meeting and public hearing Monday night.
The town Board of Commissioners held a legally-required public hearing on the grant, which will provide money for needed water and wastewater improvements throughout the town.
Additionally, the grant will provide funding for the demolition of a group of dilapidated homes throughout the town. Two people attended the public meeting, but neither person spoke about the grant.
Joe Dooley, who writes grants for the town on behalf of the Upper Coastal Plains Council of Government, talked about the grant during the meeting.
The New Overtime Rule is Here and Effective January 1, 2020

On Tuesday, September 25, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor released the final rule raising the minimum salary an employee must make to be exempt from overtime and, as a result, making more salaried employee eligible for overtime compensation. The rule may be found  here . The changes to the rule closely track the proposed rule published last March. The most significant change is, as expected, an increase in the amount an employee must earn to qualify for exempt status. Learn More....
Woodland board addresses town's water

Woodland town leaders are continuing their efforts to improve the town's water infrastructure. Marshall Lassiter, Woodland Operator in Responsible Charge, discussed the item during the town board's Sept. 4 meeting. He discussed a letter recently sent by the town to the N.C. Division of Water Quality, requesting permission from the agency to spray debris taken from a lagoon at the town's wastewater treatment plant, to spray fields near the town. READ MORE
Wilson County Crossroads Becomes All-Way STOP
NCDOT made the intersection of N.C. 42 and N.C. 581 into an all-way stop last month to reduce the risk of crashes. To learn more, watch this short video about how all-way stops help improve safety.

Sep 13, 2019 -- Articles recently published in the Journal of International American Medical Informatics Association and in Psychiatric Services highlight the success of a program that distributes video tablets for telehealth use by veterans in rural areas and those with mental health conditions. The program is part of the VA Mission Act initiative to improve access to health services for rural and underserved veterans.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs 
John Coggin
Director of Advocacy

This will be my last report to you as director of advocacy at the Rural Center! But, it's not goodbye!

"I Don't Know Why You Say "Goodbye"
I Say "Hello!"

The Rural Center is pleased to welcome our new director of advocacy, Brandy Bynum Dawson. A native of northeastern North Carolina, Brandy has deep experience working for policy solutions for rural people and communities. 

Read Full Article
Robert Hiett, to serve as the Southeast Regional Board Member for the CTAA

CTAA Announces 2019 Regional Board of Director Election Results Washington, D.C. – September 16, 2019. The Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) has announced the results from its 2019 Regional Board of Director Elections: Robert Hiett, to serve as the Southeast Regional Board Member; Jacklyn Montgomery, to serve as the West Regional Board Member; and Bruce Simms, to serve as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Board Member. Additionally, Barb Cline and Dan Wedge were re-elected to serve the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions, respectively. All were elected to three-year terms. “The Association and its Board of Directors are delighted to introduce our  .. Read More


HUD Now Accepting Applications for New Distressed Cities Technical Assistance Program, Designed for Communities Under 40,000 Peo ple  

The  U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development   is accepting requests for Technical Assistance (TA) under the new  Distressed Cities Technical Assistance (DCTA) Program .  This TA program is specifically designed to assist communities with populations under 40,000 that are struggling to recover from natural disaster and economic decline. The TA program will be community-specific and scaled to ensure a measurable impact on communities’ growth and resilience, as well as an efficient use of public funds. DCTA may be used to build capacity around: financial management; economic revitalization; affordable housing development; disaster recovery and resiliency planning; cross-sector partnership building; and utilizing federal development programs. To learn more about this new TA program, including eligibility requirements and how to request assistance, visit the   Distressed Cities Technical Assistance  page on the HUD Exchange.
Funding for programs that are designed to strengthen communities and solve local problems, including those found in rural and underserved areas. Funding priorities include prescription drug and opioid abuse, education, and rural intermediary organizations.
Geographic coverage: Nationwide and U.S. territories
Application Deadline: Jan 8, 2020
Sponsor: Corporation for National and Community Service

Grants for observational and intervention research projects designed to reduce the burden of cancer and improve the quality of cancer care in rural areas among low-income and/or underserved populations.
Geographic coverage: Nationwide and U.S. territories
Letter of Intent (Optional): Dec 15, 2019
Application Deadline: Jan 15, 2020
Sponsors: National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Grants for research on the outcomes of care for persons with Alzheimer's disease and related dementia by identifying home- and community-based services used, as well as barriers to accessing care and unmet needs. Explaining geographic disparities, such as urban versus rural, in access to and quality of care is a suggested research topic.
Geographic coverage: Nationwide and U.S. territories
Letter of Intent (Optional): Jan 3, 2020
Application Deadline: Feb 3, 2020
Sponsors: National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

One-on-one technical assistance, educational resources, and professional development opportunities for current grantees and potential applicants of the USDA Community Food Projects grant program.
Geographic coverage: Nationwide and U.S. territories
Applications accepted on an ongoing basis
Sponsors: New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition

Funding, technical assistance, and mentoring for rural VA facilities to implement promising practices and/or enterprise-wide initiatives.
Geographic coverage: Nationwide and U.S. territories
Applications accepted on an ongoing basis
Sponsors: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration's Office of Rural Health
YouthBuild Grant Opportunity

The Employment and Training Administration (ETA), U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), announces the availability of approximately $85 million in grant funds authorized by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) (Pub. L. 113-128) for YouthBuild. 

Under this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), DOL will award grants through a competitive process to organizations providing pre-apprenticeship services that support education, occupational skills training, and employment services to at-risk youth, ages 16 to 24, while performing meaningful work and service to their communities. In addition to construction skills training, YouthBuild applicants may include occupational skills training in other in-demand industries. This expansion into additional in-demand industries is the Construction Plus component, a priority in this grant competition.

Invitation to Executive Order 80
Regional Resiliency Workshops
Five Workshops Across NC

You're invited to attend one of five Regional Resiliency Workshops coming up in Sylva, Hickory, Kernersville, Pembroke, and Wilson that will bring together local government officials, local planners, businesses, community, faith-based, and tribal organizations, and other stakeholders in the Mountain and Piedmont region to share resources and perspectives on how the state can support communities in reducing climate hazards and impacts and build long term resiliency. Outcomes and feedback from these workshops will help shape the development of the State’s Climate Risk Assessment and Resiliency Plan as charged under Section 9 of Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 80 . The objectives of these workshops are to:
  • Learn about how the changing climate has affected local communities in North Carolina, • Share regional climate adaptation and resiliency challenges,
  • Generate strategies that could be implemented at the local level,
  • Generate recommendations that could be implemented at the state level,
  • Prioritize regional vulnerabilities to be addressed in the North Carolina Climate Risk and Resiliency Plan
The following participant groups are encouraged to attend:
  • Local government officials: town council, county commissioners, mayors
  • Local Planners: town/county managers, planners/community development, public works directors, emergency managers, floodplain administrators, public health officials, parks and recreation, etc.
  • Community Organizations: Environmental advocacy groups, environmental justice organizations, tribal communities, faith-based organizations, etc.
  • Business, Commerce, and Agriculture: Local business owners, department of agriculture, city commerce, forestry
  • Supporting Organizations: Environmental groups, academia, consultants, etc.
Cost: FREE! Lunch will be provided.
Workshop Dates:
  • October 15th, 2019 – Sylva, NC (9:00-4:30)
  • October 16th, 2019 – Hickory, NC (9:00-4:30)
  • November 4th, 2019 – Kernersville, NC (9:00-4:30)
  • November 7th, 2019 – Pembroke, NC (9:00-4:30)
  • November 12th, 2019 – Wilson, NC (9:00-4:30)
Space is limited, therefore all persons interested in participating must fill out a participation request form at the following link: . If chosen to participate, you will receive a follow-up email with additional information.
For additional questions about the workshop, please contact Tira Beckham at or by phone at 919-707-8757.

Regional Sessions to Inform the NC Strategic
Economic Development Plan
Eight Locations Across NC

On behalf of the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the ncIMPACT Initiative at the UNC School of Government will host eight regional sessions to collect input from stakeholders across the state that will inform North Carolina’s Strategic Economic Development Plan. A session is available in each of the state’s prosperity zones. Below is a complete list of regional sessions please register for the one you choose to attend.
For more information about this project and what you can expect at the regional sessions, please watch this brief video .
The regional sessions will be critical to creating the state’s new strategic economic development plan, which will guide policymakers and practitioners in their work to generate more economic prosperity to the state. We want to hear from you about what works in your region and what additional supports from the state could maximize opportunities. We expect rich discussions with a gathering of diverse stakeholders.
Lunch will be provided. Registration is free, but please register for the regional session you select. Capacity is limited. Once we reach capacity, we will maintain a waiting list and release spaces as they become available. If for any reason you need to change sessions or cannot attend, please email Toogie Hampton at so we can accommodate those on the waiting list.

Regional Sessions to Inform the NC Strategic Economic Development Plan
Integrating Sustainability into Daily Decision-Making

In light of an ever changing climate, increasingly stressed infrastructure, and growing financial pressures, integrated water management and embedding sustainability into daily practices is becoming more and more important to the success of water systems. In this webinar, we will provide a strategies for integrating sustainability into daily decisions making for water systems and highlight lessons learned on how small water systems can apply these practices into their everyday operations.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019
2:00PM-3:00PM EST
(1:00pm-2:00pm CST, 12:00pm-1:00pm MST, 11:00am-12:00pm PST)

2019 Awards in Rural Excellence
Nominate a deserving rural town, leader, or entrepreneur

It’s that time of the year again! Join us November 21-22 at the Hilton Raleigh North Hills for the 2019 NC Rural Assembly! Make Your Place: Create.Transform.Celebrate  is two days full of content, conversations, and celebration. This year, we are taking a closer look at how creativity can empower local communities to create meaningful results that improve quality of life and improve economic sustainability.
Join us at this year's Rural Assembly for a unique multimedia presentation and workshop that inspires and empowers creative community revitalization and development with Create Your State from Princeton, West Virginia. Hear from former small town mayor of Arcata, California, Connie Stewart , about how communities can build their own distinct economies and establish their own specific identities. There will be engaging breakout sessions, networking opportunities, a celebration of rural, and much more to inspire and equip attendees with the tools to take their communities from surviving to thriving.
This year, the Rural Center will continue its tradition of recognizing the individuals, organizations, and towns that have demonstrated visionary leadership, impacted their economy, and built strong community partnerships.
At this year's Rural Assembly, we will recognize excellence in five categories:
  • Leadership
  • Advocacy
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Small-business lending
  • Small town growth and vitality
Click here to learn more and submit your nomination . A description of each award and previous award winners can also be found on the 2019 Rural Assembly website If you know of a deserving individual, organization, or town for one of the awards, please submit your nomination online by October 18, 2019.
Registration Details

$249 Early Bird Rate (Through September 30)
$299 Regular Rate (October 1 - November 7)
To register and learn more about the 2019 NC Rural Assembly, click here.
  Jenny Grant                                       Todd Brantley 
  Executive Team Manager                       Senior Director of Public Affairs
       919.250.4314                                      919.250.4314                   
2020 NC Transportation Summit

North Carolina’s 2nd annual Transportation Summit will be held January 8-9 at the Raleigh Convention Center. This year’s summit will provide attendees with insight and guidance on the future of mobility, discover the latest in transportation funding and new technologies.
Your attendance helps ensure that North Carolina's transportation industry is keeping up with the state's needs. Please visit for further registration details.
ReCONNECT to Economic Opportunity
Register early as tickets are limited!

Join us on October 15, 2019, in Charlotte, as we focus on creating and strengthening pathways to sustainable wage employment for existing workers, examine ways to connect adult workers to information about sustainable-wage employment, identify accessible education opportunities and promote programs that remove non-academic barriers to, and provide support for, postsecondary education. Learn more.
Joining us on October 15:
  • Governor Roy Cooper
  • Brian Collier, Executive Vice President Foundation for the Carolinas
  • Laura Colson McLean, Ed.D, Dean Metropolitan College of Professional Studies Johnson C. Smith University
  • Sarah Crawford, National Director Partnerships and Programs Single Stop
  • James Ford, Co-Chair Leading on Opportunity Council
  • Michelle Gethers-Clark, President & CEO United Way of Greater Greensboro
  • Peter Hans, President, North Carolina Community College System • Carol Hardison, Chief Executive Officer Crisis Assistance Ministry
  • Mike Krause, Executive Director Tennessee Higher Education Commission & Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation
  • and many more
Ensure you are a part of the conversation! REGISTER NOW! We recognize that for some, cost is a barrier to attending the Emerging Issues Forum, we also know that every voice is important. A minimum number of scholarships are available for those seeking financial assistance to attend. Visit: to learn more and to register today.
Reaching Across NC: Statewide Conference on
“Age-Friendly" Communities

Reaching Across NC: Livable Community Connections is a statewide conference on “Age-Friendly" Communities being held at the Brookstown Inn, 200 Brookstown Ave., in Winston-Salem November 19-20, 2019.
This is your best chance to meet some of the state's leading community planning experts, implementers and advocates while learning more about the latest trends, research, projects and opportunities that enhance the quality of life for residents of all ages.
Network and learn from leaders who are making important advancements in transportation, health care, the use of open spaces, ending social isolation and more.
AARP NC brings this conference to you at no registration cost. Stay tuned for more info and full conference agenda coming soon!
Lodging is available at the historic Brookstone Inn for a special AARP Conference rate of $109.00 a night plus tax.
Workforce Development
All area NCWorks Centers collected over 900 hats for our local Migrant workers.

“Here are some pictures from the hat drive.Thank you everyone who donated hats for this great cause.

The farmworkers were very appreciative and happy to receive your hats.

Please share with those that made this happen. “  

Senior Corner
Who Can Be Served with the Funds:
The target audience for the Recovery Funds are North Carolina residents 55 and over who resides in a county for which a disaster declaration has been received from FEMA. This recovery fund is designed to help those needs for which no additional resources are available to provide help.

What Can Assistance Funds Cover:
Funds can be used to help cover costs for which no additional resources are available to provide help and assistance. Individuals funds may be used to assist with food, personal hygiene items, clothing, transportation, home repairs, health care costs including prescription and over the counter drugs, and additional critical needs not covered by other sources. Aging agencies may need funds to assist with such costs as services and assistance to local older residents for which no other funds are available, minor repairs to facilities or equipment not covered by other resources, and additional critical needs resulting from the storms not covered by other sources.

Applying for assistance: Work with the Area Agency on Aging (AAA) in your area to discuss needs and complete an application to be submitted to the AAA. Follow the above link for Nash, Edgecombe, Halifax, Northampton and Wilson counties.

Please share this information with your local partners and agency. Thanks for your assistance in getting the word out.  
4 key trends you need to know about Social Security

Did you know that some 5.6 million people were newly awarded  Social Security benefits in 2018

Fifty-five percent of them were retired workers, 12% were disabled workers and 33% were survivors or the spouses and children of retired or disabled workers.
And those are just some of the tidbits of information in the newly released booklet from the Social Security Administration,  Fast Facts & Figures About Social Security, 2019 .

What else is noteworthy?
COLA is key

There are few sources of inflation-adjusted, guaranteed-for-life income, but Social Security is one such source. In 2019,  the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA)  for Social Security benefits  was 2.8% .

“It sounds insignificant, but it's huge,” says Andy Landis, author of "Social Security: The Inside Story."

“Your Social Security payments are inflation-proof, with an annual raise equal to the consumer price index or CPI," he says. "Compound that over a 20-30-year retirement, and your seemingly-modest Social Security can become your biggest income source.”
What's the average benefit?

COLAs are important. But Social Security was never meant to be a person’s primary source of income in retirement, say experts. 

Joseph Stenken, an advanced products consultant for Ameritas, a Lincoln, Nebraska-based financial services company, says the current maximum monthly benefit of $2,861, or $34,332 a year, should be a reminder for pre-retirees of how much (or how little) Social Security is available for them in retirement. 

An even bigger reminder? Most beneficiaries receive far less than the maximum monthly benefit. Consider this: The estimated average monthly Social Security benefit payable in January 2019 was $1,461 for all retired workers, $2,448 for a couple both receiving benefits and $1,386 for a widow or widower. And this suggests, says Stenken, “that someone relying solely on Social Security for retirement income could be looking at a tough retirement financially.”

A tectonic shift is underway

Men historically had been the bigger if not only breadwinner in a household and were more likely than women to receive Social Security under their own work record. But the gender gap is shrinking. According to the booklet, the proportion of men who will receive Social Security under their own work record declined slightly from 93% in 1970 to 90% 2018 while the proportion of women who have worked enough to receive Social Security under their own work record increased dramatically — from 63% in 1970 to 86% in 2018. 

This represents “a tectonic revolution” in work and retirement, says Landis.
“In past decades, women made up a minority of workers getting their ‘own’ Social Security, as opposed to a spousal payment," Landis says. "Now women are a full 50% of ‘retired worker’ beneficiaries. Women have independently earned their own Social Security protection and payments.”

That doesn't mean that spousal payments are obsolete. “Nearly every couple has a higher and a lower earner,” says Landis. “Spousal payments establish a floor payment level even for the lower earner in a couple.”

It's time for a Social Security fix

Social Security is not sustainable over the long term at current benefit and tax rates, according to the booklet. Among other facts and figures, the booklet notes that in 2010, the program paid more in benefits and expenses than it collected in taxes and other noninterest income. And the 2019 Social Security Trustees report projects this pattern to continue for the next 75 years. 

What’s more, the Trustees estimate that Social Security’s trust fund reserves will be depleted by 2035. At that point, payroll taxes and other income will flow into the fund but will be sufficient to pay only about 80% of program costs. 
Jim Blankenship , author of "A Social Security Owner’s Manual," finds some comfort in those projections.

“The outlook is just a bit better than it's been in recent years,” he says. “Now we're looking at a depletion in 2035 versus 2033 and the projection is that 80% of benefits would be paid thereafter if nothing changes. It has been 75% or lower.”
Others, however, see problems on the horizon.

“Demographically, we simply have more older retirees and fewer younger workers," says Landis. "That means we need to increase Social Security income through taxes, and/or decreased payouts in benefits.”

The ratio of 2.8 workers paying Social Security taxes to each person collecting benefits in 2018 will fall to 2.2 to 1 in 2036.

For his part, Landis says Congress needs to close the funding gap.

Robert Powell is the editor of TheStreet’s Retirement Daily and contributes regularly to USA TODAY. Got questions about money? Email Bob at
121 W. Nash St. Wilson, NC 27893