Under the Dome

State approved buying $40,000 crab pots

A little-known state government service bought 1,100 crab pots to help a hearing-impaired Belhaven man pursue his dream of starting a business.

The state Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services approved using federal money to buy the $38,018 worth of traps as part of its rehabilitation program. The division is better known for preparing disabled people for work. Helping people start businesses is a smaller part of its job.

Some lawmakers say the state is wasting money on a losing proposition. Lanier Cansler, the Department of Health and Human Services secretary who personally approved the purchase, said he is satisfied that the department handled the case right. Nonetheless, he has asked the department's internal auditor for a review to make certain its procedures make sense.

Rep. Robert Grady, a Jacksonville Republican, happened across the crab pot buy as a member of a state board that approves some contracts. The notice last month about an "emergency" crab-pot purchase startled him.

Even though the pots are bought with federal money, Grady said taxpayers shouldn't be underwriting a shaky business venture while he's taking questions from constituents about teachers losing their jobs and elderly people losing home care.

"I think this is crazy," he said.

Dewayne Blackburn, 39, confirmed it was he who plans to start the business. Blackburn, who is hearing-impaired, said in a brief interview he wants to return to the work he used to do with his father.

"Me and my daddy used to do it a long time ago," he said.

With 1,100 pots, Blackburn will be going full throttle into an enterprise in which it is difficult to succeed, Grady said. He said Blackburn's job counselors should have steered him toward another opportunity. (N&O)


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Re: State approved buying $40,000 crab pots

If what you are saying is true and you have even a little proof then you need to contact

Re: State approved buying $40,000 crab pots

As a former VR employee, I can assure you this agency is as useless as they can get. Bold statistics are used to justify existance and most clients have been closed rehabilitated 5 to 6 times each, gaining gas money, maintenance expenses, and training in areas where no one will ever get a job. Employees have to be politically connected to be hired and phoney Masters degrees are earned while the employee never leaves the office or attends any classes. They always hide behind the privacy act and medical records (HiPPA) when questioned about their services. The agency only exists to suck federal dollars to NC and then spend the money on a select few paying hundreds of thousand $ to workshops that produce make work. I doubt there has ever been a true rehabilitated client in this agency, ever! The administrators of this agency need to be living in Federal prisions for the massive misappropriation of funds. The 2005 audit showed that most clients weren't disabled at all and that the Counselor could not even define what constitutes a disability! Read it and you will be astonished that this agency continues to be funded without question

Re: State approved buying $40,000 crab pots

What the blank is this? Are you kidding me that in this economy and with us losing teeachers and other valuable resources that we are buying crab pots for someone?

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