Jarvis McLamb, the longest sitting Sampson County commissioner, continues to receive treatment at a Raleigh hospital after suffering a stroke late Friday.
Kelly Deis, a spokeswoman at WakeMed, said Tuesday that McLamb was listed in serious condition. Family members have noted, through contact with McLamb’s fellow board members, that he has shown some slight improvement, even some movement in the extremities on his left side.
“He had an aneurysm in the brain,” said Sampson County Board of Commissioners chairman Billy Lockamy.
The stroke reportedly occurred Friday night and McLamb was immediately transported from his home in northern Sampson County to Betsy Johnson Regional Hospital in Dunn, before being taken to WakeMed in Raleigh, Lockamy said.
“He did have some partial paralysis on the left side,” said Lockamy.
Lockamy and Commissioner Jefferson Strickland have kept regular contact with family members, including McLamb’s wife Joyce and their son Ricky. Lockamy said Tuesday the most recent information from the family was that McLamb was recovering and his condition was improving, ever so slightly.
Commissioners and county staff expressed their concern for McLamb, who was being treated within the hospital’s intensive care unit and is not able to see visitors at the present time.
“We’re extremely concerned,” said county manager Ed Causey. “Apparently from Sunday to Monday, he was maybe getting some of his movement back.”
“The paralysis is always a concern, but his son is saying there is some movement in his left arm and leg,” Lockamy added. “He was talking some, but he would go in and out, probably due to him being sedated.”
McLamb did publicly address a personal health issue during a recent meeting, but it was one that was believed to be much less serious. Toward the end of the board’s March 4 regular meeting, the commissioners said he was slated to go in for eye surgery. He has had similar surgeries in the past.
“Just letting you know, I’m going to be going in for surgery to try to open my eyes so I can see you all better,” McLamb said then. “If I come back and I’m the worst looking one on the board, don’t laugh at me.”
Now, it is not laughter, but thoughts and prayers among county staff and others, many of whom were still unsure as to the extent of McLamb’s stroke and its effects.
The 76-year-old Republican moved to Sampson from Johnston County when he was just 4 years old. A farmer by trade, McLamb entered politics because he said he enjoyed working with, and for, the people of the county. And he’s been doing it since December 1998. He is currently serving his fourth consecutive term as representative for Sampson County’s District 1, which covers the Plain View and Mingo communities among others in the northwestern portion of Sampson.
Commissioner John Blanton was previously the longest tenured sitting commissioner, however he did not seek reelection last year and officially stepped down in December after 17 years. McLamb, who has previously served as chairman of the board, currently serves as its vice chairman under Lockamy, who relayed some optimism from the family.
“The family said it looked as if it wasn’t getting any worse,” Lockamy said. “The family seems to be doing fine. He’s holding his own, with some slight improvement.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.