Four Seek Two Seats on Soil-Water Board
Four candidates are on the Nov. 2 ballot to fill two open seats on the Moore County Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors.
Hoping to succeed Larry Holder and Albert Troutman are John W. "Billy" Carter, of Eagle Springs; Michael D. Florence, of Seven Lakes; John L. McDonald, of Carthage; and Scott Emerson Sheffield, of Pinehurst.
The conservation board election is nonpartisan. The little-publicized board is responsible for local administration of broad environmental and conservation programs provided through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Created 75 years ago, the NRCS works with landowners through conservation planning and assistance designed to benefit the soil, water, air, plants and animals that result in productive lands and healthy ecosystems, according to the agency's website. It was established in response to the need to encourage conservation of natural resources on privately owned land.
The following are brief profiles of the four candidates.
Best known as Billy Carter, he manages the Carter family farm in Eagle Springs, where he raises vegetables, strawberries and tobacco, including organic tobacco.
Carter is chairman of the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission and formerly served one term on the conservation board. He has served on a number of other state boards that promote conservation and related environmental issues.
"Environmental issues are of critical importance to everybody," Carter says when asked why he is running for this office. "This is important to me as a farmer and a landowner, and I am concerned also as a father interested in preserving natural resources for future generations."
Carter is a graduate of N.C. State University, with a degree in horticulture. He and his wife, Paige, have five children, ages 2 through 14 years.
Florence lives in Seven Lakes and operates Record and Data Storage Solutions in Aberdeen. He is originally from Atlanta.
Florence says his main reason for seeking this office is a desire to become acclimated with the county's methods of dealing with natural resources and use of land.
"You hear about a lot of uncontrolled things happening in big cities, and I want to see what I can do to help prevent this type of thing here in Moore County," he says. "If I can help in any way, I want to do so."
Florence is a graduate of the University of Georgia, with a degree in geography. In pursuing this major, he says he took a number of courses related to conservation issues, experience that whetted his interest in conservation and natural resources.
He and his wife, Deirdre, have a 12-year-old daughter who attends West Pine Middle School.
McDonald is a Moore County native, and this is the first time he has run for office. He lives in Carthage, where he grew up in a farm family. A graduate of N.C. State University, he is a licensed civil engineer who worked for a number of years with the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT).
"In my work with highways, I have been involved in environmental issues, and I'm familiar with this aspect of the board's work," he says. "I'm especially interested in issues affecting Moore County."
McDonald says that NCDOT works in such areas as stream restoration and wetlands reconstruction, practices followed in conservation programs.
McDonald and his wife, Sharon, have three children, who live in Richmond and Wake counties. The family moved back to Moore County in 1994.
Sheffield moved to Moore County from northern Virginia more than six years ago. The retired contractor lives in Pinewild and volunteers at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, Sunrise Theater, Adopt-a-Highway program, Mid-Pines Invitational Junior Golf Tournament and the 2005 Men's and 2007 Women's U.S. Open.
A graduate of George Mason University, he holds a degree in business and public administration. He has one daughter, who lives in Portland, Me.
Sheffield says he has sat in on a number of meetings of the local conservation board and says he is impressed with the dedication and thorough attention given to environmental issues by the members.
"They are not heavy-handed here at all," he says. "There seems to be a very nice symbiotic relationship between the district and farmers."
Sheffield says soil erosion, excessive fertilizer use, animal waste contamination and improper use of agricultural chemicals appear to be the main causes of water quality problems in Moore County.
He recalls that the N.C. Agricultural Cost Share Program was established in 1984 to help reduce these sources of surface and groundwater pollution. This program works by helping land owners and other users of established agricultural operations to improve their on-farm management by using Best Management Practices.
"While the employment of these practices can reduce the potential for surface and ground water pollution, they can also make farmers more productive," he says.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More like this story