Concerned citizens want parole office moved - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Concerned citizens want parole office moved

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Building where Columbus County's parole office is located. Building where Columbus County's parole office is located.

WHITEVILLE, NC (WECT) - Some citizens in Whiteville believe Columbus County officials are breaking the law when it comes to where they have a parole office.

It has to deal with the state law that says sex offenders must stay at least 300 feet away from schools.

Whiteville United Methodist Church and its preschool are down the street from a parole office the county owns. The parole office is on North Franklin Street and sex offenders check in at the site.

The distance between the preschool and parole office came up after many people who live in the Franklin Street area in Whiteville said, crime started going up, due to county officials moving the parole office to the neighborhood. 

According to concerned citizens, the parole office brings people to the neighborhood who otherwise would not be there. The director of the church's preschool says, they now have to always keep the doors at the school locked during school hours. She also says, there have been times, they had to cut recess short due to random people standing in the parking lot watching children.

County officials say they were unaware many people are questioning if the probation office is within 300 feet of the school. They say, the parole office was moved there temporarily until construction on the new courthouse annex building is finished. 

"They wanted to be as close to the courthouse as they could be. A lot of their business and what not they have to go to the courthouse. They had originally been located in that building at one time, back in the 90s," said Bill Clark, Columbus County manager. 

The parole office was moved to the building on Franklin Street more than a year ago.

During Monday night's meeting commissioners heard from citizens concerns. The county attorney says, he's been reviewing state ordinances and will give commissioners his recommendation after hearing from people in the neighborhood.

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