November 28, 2000

PRESENT: John F. Watts, Chairman
David S. Odom, Vice Chairman (tardy)
Wesley Bolick
Joel C. Harbinson
W. Darrell Robertson
STAFF: Rick French, County Manager
Jamie Millsaps, Clerk to the Board


The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held a special called meeting on Tuesday, November 28, 2000 in the Commissioner’s Room in the Alexander County Courthouse, Taylorsville, North Carolina.


Chairman Watts called the meeting to order at 6:43 PM. The People’s Agenda was not held.


Chairman Watts stated that Agenda Item #2 - Presentation of 1999-2000 Audit Report was to be carried over to the December 5, 2000 Commissioner’s Meeting due to the absence of Jennifer Herman, Martin Starnes & Associates. Brian Starnes will present the Audit Report on December 5, 2000.

Commissioner Bolick made a motion to adopt the agenda as presented with changes included. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.


Nan Campbell, Social Services Director, presented the Alexander County Work First Plan to the Board for approval. Ms. Campbell stated that 134 families were receiving Work First as of October 2000 and that all Work First cases are active in the Child Support Program. There are several barriers that a Work First recipient faces such as medical or mental problems, transportation or lack thereof, and limited second shift and weekend child day care providers. The Work First Program assists families to find work and provides skills training, counseling, substance abuse training, and incentives to remain self-supporting and financially independent. The Work First Program has identified several goals in the Plan that are to be met including reducing the Work First caseload, striving to keep Work First recipients to remain off assistance for 1 year after leaving the Work First Program due to employment, meeting the "Two Parent" participation rate, avoiding welfare through Diversion Assistance, and increasing child support orders and collection for Work First families. After thorough explanation of the Work First Plan, Ms. Campbell requested approval of the Alexander County Work First Plan.

Commissioner Robertson made a motion to approve the Alexander County Work First Plan. Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

Chairman Watts stated at this time that Agenda Item #3 – Discussion of Water Agreement Alexander County/City of Hickory would be skipped and discussed at the end of the meeting.


Rick French, County Manager, presented the proposed 2001 Commissioner’s Retreat Agenda to the Board. Several items will be discussed at the 2001 Commissioner’s Retreat including County-wide zoning, revaluation and GIS updates, space needs, economic development, and departmental updates. Mr. French stated that at an earlier date, Commissioner Robertson suggested combining the Discussion and Timetable for County-wide Zoning scheduled for Thursday, January 18, 2001 at 7:15 PM and the Planning & Development Update scheduled for Friday, January 19, 2001 at 4:45 PM. The Board was in agreement that the 2001 Commissioner’s Retreat Agenda be accepted with Commissioner Robertson’s suggested changes made. No action was required.


Chairman Watts stated that the Board needed to schedule a public hearing for the financing of the Ellendale Elementary School Project. Chairman Watts suggested tentatively scheduling a public hearing for the January 9, 2001 Commissioner’s Meeting. The information could then be sent to the LGC by mid-January. The LGC will meet on the project Tuesday, February 6, 2001 to vote on the issue. Brent Fox, Board of Education, stated that the bids for the Ellendale Project should be received December 12, 2000 and that they were good for 90 days.

Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to tentatively schedule the public hearing for January 9, 2001. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.


Chairman Watts stated that he had made plans to be off work during the conference and would be willing to serve as the Alexander County delegate if it was the will of the Board.

Commissioner Bolick made a motion to elect Chairman Watts as the delegate for the Legislative Goals Conference to be held January 10-12, 2001. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.


Rick French, County Manager, mentioned several items including:

    1. Mr. French has spoken with Waylan Plaster, Architect for the Animal Shelter, who says that he has begun with the construction drawings. These drawings should be available in a couple of weeks. The bidding process should begin in January and information will be provided at the 2001 Commissioner’s Retreat.
    2. The annual Employee’s Appreciation Luncheon will be held Friday, December 1, 2000 at the Senior Center. Mr. French suggested that County Commissioners arrive around 12:00 Noon when the programs start.
    3. Ken White, Finance Officer, was involved in an accident on Friday, November 24, 2000 and suffered a head injury. Mr. White is currently hospitalized at Baptist Hospital and is receiving treatment. Many thoughts and prayers are with Mr. White and his family.


Chairman Watts stated that when he took office 2 years ago, one of his biggest concerns was increasing water availability in Alexander County. At that time, there was not even a water line map for the County. Over the last year, Rick French, County Manager, as well as Mark Stafford and Matt Jordan have worked diligently and a County water line map has been established. The map shows where water lines are run throughout the County, where the water supply comes from, which company maintains the system, and also what size line is run. Chairman Watts stated that Alexander County is in need of another source of water. A subcommittee was recently formed consisting of Chairman Watts, Commissioner Robertson, and Mr. French to determine what Alexander County’s specific water needs were and to study surrounding areas to determine the best system to provide a secondary water source for the County. The subcommittee has met with the City of Hickory for discussion. An agreement between Alexander County and the City of Hickory was presented for first reading.

Commissioner Robertson stated that Energy United Water Corporation provided service in the Eastern part of Alexander County and the City of Hickory in the Western part. There is currently no backup system which is needed. This will provide more volume in the central part of the County.

At this time, Commissioner Odom entered the meeting. The time was 7:15 PM.

Chairman Watts asked Gene Haynes, City of Hickory, to elaborate on the proposed agreement.

Mr. Haynes stated that the proposed agreement states that the City of Hickory will provide a secondary water supply for Alexander County and the line will run down Highway 16 South (Oxford Dam Bridge) and will link Rink Dam Road from the Bethlehem line. The 20-year agreement, if approved, will begin January 1, 2001. An operations committee will be formed between Alexander County and the City of Hickory and will meet quarterly to plan and communicate.

The agreement also states that any Energy United Water Corporation employee who’s position would be eliminated due to this agreement would be guaranteed a job with the City of Hickory. For example, there is currently 2 Energy United employees that service the City of Hickory line that runs along Highway 127. These 2 employees would become City of Hickory employees. There will be a pass through fee to the City of Hickory and they will maintain the system. The City of Hickory will establish a collections office in Taylorsville.

The water rate in the agreement is $1.12 per thousand gallons. This is not included the transmission cost. The bulk rate is estimated in the $1.40 per thousand gallon range.

Mr. Haynes informed the Board that Alexander County would maintain ownership of the system. The City of Hickory will repair and maintain the system, this will not be the responsibility of Alexander County.

Mr. French stated that this agreement would need to be discussed with Energy United and The Town of Taylorsville and that the agreement would benefit both organizations. Mr. French also stated that numerous studies have been done on water needs for the County and the City of Hickory agreement would best meet the County’s needs. Pierson and Whitman presented a water study at the 2000 Commissioners Retreat held in January 2000. Chester West has also done research on the water issue. Mr. French stated that the agreement still needed fine tuning as far as accurate numbers are concerned.

Mr. Haynes stated that the bidding process will begin December 15, 2000 for the pump station property. The Board inquired about the type of water facility the City of Hickory maintained. Mr. Haynes stated that they had a 32 million gallon per day facility with a strong infrastructure. Approximately 12 to 17 million gallons are sold per day, dependent upon seasonal needs. There are currently 90 employees working for the facility and all are state certified. Mr. Haynes commented on the Alexander County/City of Hickory agreement and stated that he has never seen two water systems that would tie in as well as these two. The agreement is good for 20 years and then renewable. Mr. Haynes stated that he felt now was a good time to act on this issue.

Commissioner Harbinson stated that he felt this agreement was very important to Alexander County and that this was what the County has been waiting for so long.

Commissioner Bolick stated that he felt this was simply a win/win situation. Commissioner Bolick stated that water and sewer has also been one of his concerns during his term as a County Commissioner and that he was pleased to see that water and sewer lines had been installed in Bethlehem. Commissioner Bolick stated that he would like this agreement approved in principle for the first reading until more accurate figures are presented at the December 5, 2000. A final vote can be made on the second reading at that time.

Commissioner Odom stated that he needed to read through the agreement thoroughly before voting and felt the Board should not make a decision at the present time.

Mr. Haynes also introduced Denny Martin who is the City of Hickory Financial Consultant for the system. Mr. Martin discussed some of the benefits of the agreement and stated that by approving this agreement, Alexander County can cut operating costs as well as purchase water for less.

Mr. French stated that the rates were competitive and that this agreement puts the County in a position to plan. Approval of this agreement would be good for applying for grants.

Commissioner Odom stated that any questions regarding the water agreement should be relayed to Mr. French.

Chairman Watts recognized William Hammer for comments. Mr. Hammer stated that this is what the County has been striving for since the 1980’s and felt that this agreement would be very good for the County.

Commissioner Bolick made a motion to approve in principle the first reading of the agreement. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted 4 for the motion (Commissioners Bolick, Harbinson, Robertson, and Watts) and 1 against the motion (Commissioner Odom). Motion carried.

The Board of Commissioners will vote on the second and final reading of the agreement at the December 5, 2000 Commissioner’s Meeting.


  1. Minutes from November 14, 2000 meeting.
  2. Budget Amendments #9, #10, #11, and #12.

Commissioner Bolick made a motion to approve the Consent Agenda. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.


Commissioner Bolick made a motion to adjourn at 7:50 PM. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.




  John S. Watts, Chairman           Jamie C. Millsaps, Clerk to the Board