Study will show where Caldwell County children have trouble

1985 found glaring needs; time for update
Mar. 12, 2013 @ 02:31 AM

It has been almost 28 years since a landmark study provided alarming evidence of the problems faced by children and teenagers in Caldwell County, so the board that was formed to guide efforts to help the county's children says it's time for a new study.

"We've made great progress," Sharon Poarch, the chairwoman of the Children's Advocacy Council, told the Caldwell County Board of Commissioners Monday night, "but we need to know where we are and where to go next."

Caldwell had unenviable starting points for making progress. The 1985 study by the Department of Social Services found that Caldwell ranked among the worst counties in the state in several areas, with:

-The third-highest high school dropout rate.

-The third-highest number of court hearings for serious discipline problems among children under 16.

-The third-highest number of teenage births.

-The fourth-highest number of students being held back in school, including the eighth-highest number for first-graders and the ninth-highest for kidergartners.

Poarch said that a new study would assess what the top areas of focus should be now for the Children's Advocacy Council. For instance, she said, the high school dropout rate and teen pregnancy rate are down quite a bit. There also should be much more complete data available now than there was in the mid-1980s, she said.

Researchers at Appalachian State University have tentatively agreed to perform the study, and Poarch said the council is looking for funding. She said the county would not be asked for funding until the council sees how much it can raise elsewhere.

In other business Monday, the commissioners voted unanimously to apply for a One NC grant from the N.C. Department of Commerce on behalf of an industry that makes electric cars that the county is trying to lure. The commissioners already voted last month to approve $340,000 in incentives for the industry, which the Economic Development Commission refers to publicly only as Project Jaguar, based on projections that the company could create 170 jobs over three years.

The Department of Commerce is evaluating whether the industry is eligible for a grant, but the grant program requires that a local government serve as the formal applicant for the grant.

The commissioners also voted after a closed session to amend an agreement made in November to jointly purchase, along with Lenoir, the Lenoir Transload facility operated by Robinson Lumber off U.S. 321-A. The amendments, which have not yet been approved by Lenoir, would move the closing date of the purchase to mid-April and require keeping George Robinson, the president of Robinson Lumber, as the operator. The original agreement called for a 35-year contract with Robinson.