Union Co. commissioners dissolve board after child abuse case

by: Trish Williford Updated:


UNION COUNTY, N.C. - A major decision was made Monday night concerning the Union County Department of Social Services.

Union County commissioners voted to dissolve the board that oversees it. The decision came after a former supervisor was arrested and accused of tying a dead chicken around an 11-year-old boy's neck.

It was standing room only inside Union County commission chambers, and after several hours, the commission voted unanimously to dissolve the board.

Commissioners asked the County Human Services Director Richard Matens to give the public an overview of all the steps his department took as it relates to the case involving former DSS supervisor Wanda Larson.

Larson was fired from her job days after she and her husband Dorian Harper were arrested on child abuse charges.

Authorities said they found an 11-year-old boy in the couple's legal guardianship handcuffed to Larson's porch with a dead chicken tied around his neck.

Matens told the commission that his department isn't broken, but he says one person is. He said his department is taking steps to make sure something like this never happens again.

Commissioners told the public now is the time to fix the problem.

"Now simply is not the time to place blame, but now is the time to take ownership and responsibility. This board has always had this responsibility since we took over at the first part of this year," said Commissioner Frank Aikmus.

In light of this case, DSS will take a closer look at the background of its employees. Officials said they're also reviewing any previous complaints.

 Read more: Union Co. sheriff, DA asks for SBI involvement in child abuse case