THURSDAY, JANUARY 18, 2001
On Thursday, January 18, 2001, at 7:10 PM, the Alexander County Board of Commissioners began the 2001 Planning Retreat in the Integon Room at the Broyhill Inn & Conference Center in Boone, North Carolina.
WELCOME AND GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS
Chairman Odom welcomed everyone attending and stated that the 2000 Planning Retreat was a great success and was sure that the 2001 Planning Retreat would be also. Commissioner Watts gave general instructions and stated that he was pleased to have the Planning and Zoning Commission members present for the upcoming discussion.
Sylvia Turnmire, Director of Planning & Development, gave an update on the county-wide zoning and stated that 7 of the 10 townships had been assigned proposed zoning districts which included Ellendale, Taylorsville, Bethlehem, Wittenburg, Millers, and Sharpes I and II. Little River, Sugarloaf, and Gwaltneys Townships will be completed at the February 1, 2001 Planning & Zoning Commission meeting.
Commissioner Darrell Robertson arrived at this time. The time was 7:15 PM.
John Marshall, Western Piedmont Council of Governments Planner, presented a revised copy of the Zoning Ordinance. Several additions and deletions have been made including regulations regarding parking spaces, signs, buffers, naming of districts, etc. Mr. Marshall reviewed each of the changes in the Zoning Ordinance with the group.
During Mr. Marshalls presentation, County Attorney Ed Hedrick arrived. The time was 7:30 PM.
A discussion was held concerning billboards within the county. Keith Hertzler, Chamber of Commerce Director, stated that there is a demand for billboards along Highway 64/90 for business advertisements.
Commissioner Robertson stated that he didnt like the idea of large billboards being constructed in Alexander County and suggested looking into purchasing the smaller informational signs similar to ones seen on Interstate 40. Commissioner Robertson felt that these signs do the same job as a billboard by providing information to the drivers as to what type of businesses are ahead.
The unipole design for signs was also mentioned. Commissioner Watts stated that the unipole designs were very expensive, perhaps as much as $40,000.
Lloyd Jarvis, Planning & Zoning Commission, stated that he was concerned about the maintenance of these proposed billboards and inquired about who would be responsible for them. Several suggested requiring the owner of the billboard to provide maintenance. Questions were raised about the maintenance if a billboard owner was to relocate and who would provide the maintenance on the billboard afterwards.
Chairman Odom suggested that the County rent informational signs to business owners. The signs would have a similar design and the County staff would then be able to oversee what types of sign were being put up and eliminate any unwanted advertisement.
Commissioner Harbinson suggested that the Planning & Zoning Commission meet with Keith Hertzler, Chamber of Commerce Director, to discuss and investigate this matter further in order to get local business input.
Telecommunication towers were also discussed. Maps were distributed that showed where all towers were located within the county. Topics discussed included alternative tower structures such as clock towers, light poles, and church steeples. Mr. Marshall stated that the alternative tower types were encouraged and stated that this issue should be considered before the public hearing is held for adoption of the Zoning Ordinance. Many were concerned about the distance between a tower and a residential home and several stated that there should be a distance requirement written into the Zoning Ordinance for these towers.
Commissioner Watts asked if a moratorium should be declared on towers if a permit had already been given. It was stated that the towers should be "grandfathered" if a permit had been released. Mr. Marshall stated that if the Board of Commissioners were to adopt the Zoning Ordinance within a 2 or 3 month period, the moratorium should take place lastly. If the Board were to wait for 6 months or more, the moratorium should take place first.
Sexually Oriented Businesses
Sexually Oriented Businesses were discussed. Commissioner Harbinson stated that he felt this issue should be completely eliminated from the Zoning Ordinance and simply not dealt with. Commissioner Watts stated that no one wanted these types of establishments in the county and also felt that this part of the Zoning Ordinance should be left out and possibly saved until it was absolutely needed.
TIMETABLE AND OTHER CONCERNS
Commissioner Watts stated that he was concerned about the Zoning Ordinance being presented at the same time as the revaluation.
Rick French, County Manager, inquired about the geographical maps of the county. Mr. Marshall stated that a draft map should be completed by the first part of April. Ms. Turnmire stated that most of Alexander County was zoned RA-20 (Residential-Agricultural).
Ms. Turnmire inquired about the Zoning Ordinance time-table. Commissioner Robertson stated that he felt that the Zoning Ordinance should be put out to the public as soon as possible. Connie Killian, Planning & Zoning Commission Chairperson, stated that she felt more information should be gathered from the Bethlehem community since they will be subjected to new zoning with the approval of the Zoning Ordinance in Alexander County. The Board agreed that there should be many informational meetings and fewer public hearings. Commissioner Robertson suggested scattering the public hearings, possibly having them at the 2 junior high schools. It was agreed that 2 public hearings would be held as well as 4 informational meetings. Commissioner Odom suggested that Ms. Turnmire and 1 or 2 of the Planning & Zoning Commission members participate in Norris Keevers radio show "What Do You Think".
It was agreed that the proposed Zoning Ordinance will be presented to the Board of Commissioners for approval at a special called meeting to be held on Tuesday, March 20, 2001 at 7:00 PM in the Commissioners Room.
PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT UPDATE
Ms. Turnmire gave an update on the Planning & Development Department which included permit types and totals, inspection types and totals, a 1997-2000 comparison, a 1999 and 2000 revenue comparison, and a zoning permit breakdown. Ms. Turnmire stated that 3,509 permits were issued in 2000 including building, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, manufactured home, and zoning permits. Also in 2000, 10,796 inspections were conducted including building, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, manufactured home, zoning, and fire inspections. This total also included reinspections.
DISCUSSION WITH DR. CUYLER DUNBAR, PRESIDENT OF CATAWBA VALLEY COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Dr. Cuyler Dunbar, President of Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC), began his presentation by giving some background on CVCC and when the college began in Alexander County in 1991. At that time, CVCC scheduled 110 curriculum classes to be offered. Of those 110 classes, 52 had enough enrollment to actually be held. There have been approximately 500 students to complete curriculum courses. CVCC has offered 2,924 continuing education classes and educated 22,000 continuing education students.
Dr. Dunbar stated that the continuing education classes usually cost approximately $60 or more depending on the type of class and time length of the class. The Alexander CVCC site is planning for occupational training as well as college credit courses for high school students.
Commissioner Harbinson inquired about training for prison guards since there will soon be a new prison in the county. Dr. Dunbar stated that it could be possible to provide a Criminal Justice Program and Psychology courses for prison guards. Commissioner Harbinson also inquired about CVCC working with Catawba Memorial Hospital in the future for training in the Nursing Program. Dr. Dunbar also stated that this could be possible after consideration by the CVCC Board of Trustees.
Commissioner Robertson inquired about vocational classes. Dr. Dunbar stated that there was not enough interest in the vocational classes in the past to continue offering them. Dr. Dunbar mentioned that CVCC did offer a motorsports class that was self-funded. The cost of the class ranges from $600 - $900 and involves a lot of motorcycle and four-wheeler sports.
Dr. Dunbar informed the Board that the CVCC Board of Trustees had approved the renovation of building that was recently purchased by Alexander County for the community college. Dr. Dunbar stated that they had advertised for an architect and had scheduled a presentation for February 6, 2001 at 12:00 PM. Dr. Dunbar stated that the Board of Trustees would like to receive recommendations from the Board of Commissioners and the Board of Education on the building renovations so that they may be given to the architect.
A draft lease agreement was provided to the Board. Dr. Dunbar stated that the lease would have to be approved by the Board to proceed with the renovation project. The new building is in a good location and has room for expansion in both the main building and parking. Dr. Dunbar stated that CVCC was required to provide 2 parking spaces per student. Along with the servicing community college, some county offices could be operate in the recently purchased building. The offices could possibly include the Employment Security Commission, JobLink, Smart Start, etc.
Several members of the Board expressed concerns of representation on the CVCC Board of Trustees. Dr. Dunbar stated that he had recommended that Alexander County receive 2 positions. The Board of Trustees has approved 1 position and may approve another. There is a chance that a third position may be available if authorized by the Governor of North Carolina.
The Board also expressed concerns for Alexander Countys share on the state bond monies. Dr. Dunbar stated that there was no definite dollar amount specified for Alexander Countys share of the state bond monies but that the building and proposed renovations had been approved and were supported.
After a short review of Fridays events by County Manager Rick French, the meeting was adjourned at 10:50 PM.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 19, 2001
On Friday, January 19, 2001, at 8:05 AM, the Alexander County Board of Commissioners met in the Integon Room at the Broyhill Inn & Conference Center in Boone, North Carolina to continue the 2001 Planning Retreat.
Brian Starnes, Martin Starnes & Associates, gave a financial update for Alexander County. The update included topics such as General Fund information, Enterprise Fund information, current and projected revenues and expenditures, department budget information, and deficit information.
Mr. Starnes presented a Power Point slide show presentation and gave the following information:
Discussion was held concerning the Solid Waste and Landfill Funds. The Board was informed that BFI Inc. charges a flat rate for 20 tons. The Landfill is still charged for 20 tons whether they have 20 tons or not. It was also suggested that all fees are not being paid at convenience centers.
The county landfill is for Alexander County residents only. It was suggested that I.D. cards be provided so employees can determine that only Alexander County residents have usage of the landfill. Greg Cronk, Information Technology Director, informed the Board that new software is being installed at the landfill that will allow invoices to be printed daily and monthly.
After the presentation, Mr. Starnes stated that he would like to thank the Finance Department employees Toni Miller, Kim Stine, and Pat Kearney for all of their hard work. Mr. Starnes stated that these ladies have done an excellent job during the absence of Ken White, Finance Officer.
At this time, Ben Hines, Register of Deeds, presented Commissioner Watts with a copy of his parents marriage certificate. The new marriage certificate was nicely done with a gold border and presentable frame. The marriage certificate will be given to Commissioner Watts mother, Mrs. Moselle B. Watts, on Sunday, January 21, 2001 where she will receive the Alexander County Board of Education Award of Honor.
Rick French, County Manager, led the discussion regarding space needs. Jim Powell, ADW Architects, recently completed a space needs study for county departments. One of the major needs in the county is courthouse space.
Courthouse and Detention Center
Ray Warren, Sheriff, commented on this issue by stating that there was crowding problem during court cases which leads to security problems and trouble conducting proper court processes. The jail is also very crowded which also causes security as well as sanitation problems. Another problem is that the jail is not equipped to house female prisoners. Females must be transferred to another facility outside the county.
Discussion was held regarding building a new jail facility. Mr. Warren stated that a new jail should be built to provide an adequate male and female facility for 130-140 inmates. A cinder block jail is less expensive, costing approximately $100,000 per cell. The Board informed the group that the timeline for building a new jail would be 5 or 6 years away if the planning process began now. Mr. Warren stated that mobile jail units could be used short-term until a new jail is built.
Mr. Warren stated that the time had come to either expand or move to a satellite facility due to need of office space. There is currently 1 office for 12 road officers to complete paper work and there is no place to talk with families in private.
There are currently 4 detectives, the DARE Officer, and the Resource Officer housed in the former Dayton Chevrolet Building that was purchased by Alexander County in 1998. Mr. French stated that the rest of the facility could be used if heating and cooling was installed.
Seth Chapman, Clerk of Court, also commented on the crowding problem during court sessions. Mr. Chapman stated that there are usually 350 court cases on Mondays and both courtrooms are used. Sometimes the Commissioners Room has to be used to accommodate for all cases to be heard or used for a jury room. The Clerk of Court staff is also in need of space. The Deputy Clerk of Courts office is in the vault and there is no private interview office for staff to speak with families regarding family wills, inheritances, incompetency hearings, etc. Mr. Chapman stated that he felt it wasnt fair to the families to have someone walk by and hear the conversations taking place.
Mr. Warren informed the Board that there were no metal detectors in the courthouse which are greatly needed. An adequate metal detector would cost approximately $3,500 but the metal detectors would need to be staffed which would increase the cost.
Mr. French suggested moving the Commissioners Room to the building that was recently purchased for the community college and allowing the courts to use the current Commissioners Room. More audio/visual equipment could be installed at the new building as well.
Commissioner Harbinson began discussion on building a new courthouse behind the old prison property, soon to be the juvenile detention center. Approximately 25 acres hopefully will be donated to Alexander County by the State of North Carolina. The state will probably restrict use of this land to public safety use. The property has a market value of $1 million. Commissioner Harbinson that he felt the "one-stop" courthouse should be seriously considered for this property. The "one-stop" courthouse would include all related departments within the building including Clerk of Court, Tax Office, Register of Deeds, Sheriffs Department, Juvenile Courts, Probation, etc.
Commissioner Harbinson stated that the "one-stop" concept could not be done unless a new courthouse was built. Commissioner Harbinson also stated that he felt the proposed property was a good location, easily accessible, and was at no cost to the County and in need of being used. The Library is also in need of space. Commissioner Harbinson suggested moving the library to the current courthouse once the new courthouse is built. Economic Development could also be housed in the library building and the former Dayton property could be sold.
Commissioner Hammer stated that he would rather renovate the current courthouse and stated that he felt it would be less expensive to expand than to built a new courthouse. Commissioner Hammer felt that the courthouse should not be moved since it has always been located in the same place.
Commissioner Harbinson stated that he felt this issue should be looked at 40 years down the road and not just 5 years and that it should be started from scratch and done right.
Mr. Warren stated that the current courthouse was in bad shape. There is constant mechanical system failure. There is also fungus in the ventilation which causes the heating and cooling systems to fail in some areas of the building. Mr. Warren also stated that the jail needed to be within walking distance from a new courthouse and suggested having an underground tunnel installed to prevent prisoner escapes when transferring from jail to courthouse.
Russell Greene, Fire Marshal, added comments by stating that there were some ADA issues involved with the courthouse. There are currently no public restrooms located upstairs which could result in lawsuits.
Ben Hines, Register of Deeds, stated that the he was in hopes to have a paperless Register of Deeds office in the near future and felt that the "one-stop" courthouse was a great idea and would benefit the county greatly.
Commissioner Harbinson suggested that a long-term task force be formed to study the courthouse issue, visit surrounding courthouses and jails to gather input, and study cost projections of renovation or building. The task force will consist of individuals such as the Sheriff, Clerk of Court, and Register of Deeds.
It was agreed that the task force will be established at the February 6, 2001 Commissioners Meeting. The task force will have 1 year to study and research the courthouse issue. All information and recommendations will be presented for review to the Board of Commissioners at the 2002 Planning Retreat. Commissioner Harbinson suggested involving Jim Powell, ADW Architects, in the process.
Mr. French reviewed other departments space needs with the Board.
Update on Prison
Ray Warren, Sheriff, gave an update on the Alexander County prison and stated that the project re-bidding should be completed soon and bids received by March 1, 2001. Construction on the new prison will begin in early July. Mr. Warren stated that the State budget shortfall should not affect the prison in any way.
Rick French, County Manager, briefly reviewed the latest water agreement between Alexander County and the City of Hickory.
Gene Haynes and Chuck Henson, City of Hickory, informed the Board of repairs that the City of Hickory crew has completed on the Highway 16 South and Sugarloaf water systems since January 1, 2001. Mr. Haynes informed the Board that they have not located all meters but are in the process of doing so and were confident that water bills would go out on March 1, 2001. Mr. Haynes stated that they had identified approximately 1,323 water users.
Mr. Haynes stated that Energy United still has some deposit money from some water customers and that the deposit will be returned when the water user left a homeowners property.
Mr. French stated that the County will be paying Energy United for the collections agreement and that the Energy United November and December water bills were being taken at the Tax Office.
Judy Feimster, Administrative Assistant, informed the Board that the Administration Office had received many calls from individuals who had not paid their water bill for several months service and wanted to catch up by paying the amount back monthly. The Administrative staff was instructed to inform individuals that they werent allowed to do such.
Mr. Henson stated that the tank in Bethlehem behind West Junior High School was in need of repair since the tank is leaking. The cost of this project will be approximately $80,000. Mr. Henson also stated that engineering should begin on the Rink Dam Road project after July and construction should begin in 2002.
Other water projects were discussed including a water petition submitted by residents on Three Forks Church Road. Several suggested using leftover CDBG grant money to fund a water line along Three Forks Church Road. The Bethlehem water system was also discussed. Mr. French stated there will be negotiations between the Town of Taylorsville and Energy United regarding water rates.
Mr. French stated that a City of Hickory collections office will be established in Taylorsville sometime in the near future for Highway 16 South and Sugarloaf water districts. Commissioner Hammer suggested establishing a small collections office in the Tax Office.
Luther Stocks, Tax Administrator, stated that the County is currently conducting a reappraisal of all real property. The reappraisal will consist of a full measure and list of real property and a review of the properties after the corrections are made. Revaluation staff includes Ron McCarthy, Consultant; Stan Vance, County Appraiser; Sally Lackey, Data Entry and Office Manager; George Brown, Data Collections and Residential Review Appraiser; Brian Penley, Data Collections; and Greg Brookshire, Data Collection. Mr. Stocks stated that the county contains 22,000 parcels of property and approximately 12,800 residential parcels have been viewed as well as 1,200 commercial and industrial parcels.
Staff is working on a number of things including data collection, neighborhood identification, data entry, preliminary land pricing, and cost studies. Staff plans on finishing several items within the next year including field review document preparation, training residential reviewers, residential and commercial value review, data entry post value review, appraisal manual preparation, scheduling of values, value editing, etc. The final stage of the revaluation process will occur April 1, 2002 May 10, 2002 with the Board of Equalization & Review Appeals.
The revaluation process currently occurs every 8 years. Several Board members stated that they would like to have a 4-year cycle for revaluation. Commissioner Watts suggested waiting 5 years after this revaluation so the next revaluation will be in a non-election year, then proceed with revaluation every 4 years after that. For example: years for revaluation 2002 2007 2011 2015.
Commissioner Harbinson stated that he would like for Alexander County citizens to be able to list their property on the county web site in order to sell the property at appraisal if desired. Commissioner Harbinson also stated that he would like to hire a Public Information Officer to inform and explain to the public about this project as well as other new and ongoing projects.
Mr. Stocks stated that during the last revaluation, public hearings were held and will be held again this year.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY & GIS UPDATE
Greg Cronk, Information Technology Director, gave an update on the 2000-2001 Information Technology Department projects which included the following information:
Mr. Cronk also discussed projected 2001-2002 projects which included:
At this time, Mr. Cronk stated that the County is involved in the development of a County Geographical Information System (GIS) with the help of the Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG). In 1999, the County entered into a contract with L. Robert Kimball for the development of the initial GIS data layers which include digital orthophotos, property parcels, E-911 address and street centerline, planimetric, topography, server lines, water lines, and necessary metadata for a total cost of $842,114.
Mr. Cronk informed the Board that the County has received all data layers from Mr. Kimball and staff has installed the hardware in the Planning & Development Department and Tax Office. WPCOG is currently developing software to allow staff to update the property parcel layer and the E-911 street addressing and centerline layers and are expected to be completed by the first part of February 2001.
Mr. Cronk recommended that the County create a GIS Coordinator position which will reside in the Information Technology Department and be responsible for developing and supporting the GIS program. It was agreed that the request for this position will be brought before the Board for approval at the February 6, 2001 Commissioners Meeting. The current contract with WPCOG cost approximately $47,000 and expires June 30, 2001.
Mark Heath, Carolinas Partnership, gave an overview of the Carolinas Partnership and specific issues that the organization is involved in. The Charlotte Region Carolinas Partnership is the oldest of 7 Partnerships and was started in 1992. The organization is 60% private funded and 40% publicly funded. Mr. Heath stated that the Charlotte Region Carolinas Partnerships main goals were as follows:
Mr. Heath discussed with the Board several aspects of the Carolina Partnership including issues such as marketing activities, prospect management, trade missions, and relationship building. Mr. Heath also stated that in order for Alexander County to get serious consideration from the Carolinas Partnership, the County should make an investment in schools which has been completed. The County has also purchased the new property for the community college which could also house a Carolinas Partnership branch office.
An Alexander County Industrial Incentive Policy was also discussed. Mr. Heath stated that most counties had some type of incentive policy but not all counties had a written policy. If a county doesnt have a written policy, they make decisions on incentives on a per business (per application) basis. Commissioner Harbinson stated that he would like for Alexander County to have a written incentive policy that would be fair to everyone.
Mr. Health stated that it was also a good idea to split the Economic Development Council from the Chamber of Commerce. Keith Hertzler is currently the Chamber of Commerce Director and the Economic Development Council Director. Mr. Health said that he felt that both organizations would function better and much more smoothly if broken into 2 organizations.
ALEXANDER COMMUNITY HOSPITAL
Commissioner Robertson arrived at this time. The time was 1:40 PM.
Lee Sharpe, Alexander Community Hospital Board of Trustees Chairman, gave an update on the Alexander Community Hospital (ACH) which included information about the patient accounts receivable problem. Mr. Sharpe also discussed the Critical Access Analysis. Several individuals including the Hospital Board, Board of Commissioners, Hospital Administration, and health care providers have met with the N.C. Dept of Rural Health to consider the Critical Access Analysis for ACH. After careful consideration, it was recommended that ACH become a Critical Access Hospital (CAH).
Critical Access is designed to provide urban fringe and rural areas an opportunity to continue to provide reasonable health care and emergency services. Becoming a CAH will result in changes in operation such as reduced cost and increased emphasis on outpatient services. Based on the States analysis, the estimated Medicare reimbursement as a CAH indicated a projection of an increase of up to $1,064,000.
Mr. Sharpe stated that the last 6 months had been very difficult for ACH. There have been cash shortages because of billing and accounting problem. There was also a technical update and computer conversion. Employees had to learn a new system which put things further behind.
Evelyn Clemmons, Hospital Administrator, explained the criteria that must be met to become a CAH which included:
The group also watched a brief video that explained the process of the Critical Access Program. Ms. Clemmons also presented copies of a letter from Serge A. Dihoff, Health Care Specialist, which saluted the Board of Commissioners for their help with ACH. Ms. Clemmons and Mr. Sharpe also conveyed their appreciation.
Ms. Clemmons also stated that the area may be reclassified as rural. Nolan Jarvis, EMS Director, asked if just the ACH property would be reclassified or if it would be a county-wide reclassification. Ms. Clemmons stated that she would research the matter further. Mr. Jarvis stated that a county-wide reclassification would be a positive change.
Mr. Sharpe and Ms. Clemmons introduced Joe Richardson, Interim Chief Financial Officer for ACH. Mr. Richardson gave a brief update on financial standing of ACH and stated that he had a positive outlook for the action plan for the patient accounts receivable problem.
Ms. Clemmons discussed with the Board current projects such as the capital fund drive. Marion Powell, Fundraiser Director, has met with local churches and asked that they commit to renovating a room in ACH. It was stated that some churches had agreed. Ms. Clemmons stated that approximately $57,000 had been donated to the capital fund drive and staff hoped to used the funding for needed equipment and facilities. ACH hopes to build a roof and canopy for people to drive under for drop-off or pick-up of patients at the former Family Care office.
The ACH staff stated that they would keep the Board informed of the Critical Access process.
SOCIAL SERVICES UPDATE
Nan Campbell, Department of Social Services Director, presented a Power Point slide show presentation, provided updates, and gave information on the following DSS programs for FY 2000-2001:
Ms. Campbell stated she, as well as DSS Staff, had several concerns including the cost of Medicaid services, employee turnover, increase in federal funding, lack of space for staff and storage, increase in older adults needing care, and increase in ethnic minorities needing service (language barrier). After addressing these problems, Ms. Campbell pointed out several goals that have been set for DSS including addressing the employee turnover problems, developing a training plan, expanding public relations for ethnic minorities for better communication, developing child abuse prevention programs, and continuing to meet state standards.
HEALTH DEPARTMENT UPDATE
Leeanne Whisnant, Interim Health Director, gave an update on the Alexander County Health Department and also made an announcement that the Health Department administered 1,200 flu shots this season and still had more of the vaccine left.
Ms. Whisnant gave a brief overview of each service offered by the Health Department including:
Ms. Whisnant also reviewed several new programs offered by the Health Department including Hepatitis B Vaccines, School Employee Screenings, Paternity Testing, and additional Midwifery Clinic, additional GYN Clinic for Family Planning Program, Foster Parent Physicals, and a billing move from ICD-9 and CPT Coding System.
Commissioner Watts, as well as the entire Board, conveyed his appreciation to Ms. Whisnant and the entire Health Department staff.
EMERGENCY SERVICES PLAN UPDATE
Terry Foxx, Emergency Management Director, presented a Power Point slide show presentation and gave an update on the Emergency Services Plan as well as LEPC, Terrorism, and Communications.
Emergency Services Plan
Mr. Foxx stated that the Emergency Services Plan was an old format and had not been updated in 10 years. A new format was obtained from N.C. Emergency Management. Updated information pertinent to each area of emergency services and county government must be obtained and placed into the revised plan. Mr. Foxx stated that after the revisions are in draft format, each department involved will receive a copy of their section for review and each will then submit any changes. The local Emergency Management Team will receive all changes and apply them to the master plan. Once final revisions have been made by all departments, the plan will be submitted to the Board of Commissioners for final approval.
Local Emergency Planning Committee
Mr. Foxx stated that the LEPC is a mandate of the SARA Title III of the Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 and is made up of state and local government and community agencies. The Alexander County LEPC has been inactive for 8-10 years. Categories included in the LEPC includes local government, local and state law enforcement, DOT, emergency management as well as fire and medical staff, public and environmental health, hospital, transportation, print media, civic groups, and manufacturing groups.
Mr. Foxx stated that Alexander County was not exempt from terrorism and felt that action should be taken to be prepared for such action. Mr. Foxx stated that planning, training, practical exercises, and evaluations are steps that can be taken to be prepared. A terrorism plan is currently being drawn up and will spell out response procedures and training needs for county responders and government officials. A Terrorism Task Force has also been formed of personnel from law enforcement, medical, fire, rescue, emergency management, public works, and public health.
Mr. Foxx stated that there has been a constant problem with staff being able to hear each other on the communications radios as well as talking back to the 911 center in various parts of the county. Areas in Vashti, Bethlehem, and Ellendale had very poor communications due to the terrain.
On August 3, 1999, the Board of Commissioners approved a communications study to measure the current system and repair the problem. After completion of the study, plans were presented to the Board of Commissioners who approved the plan on December 7, 1999. The plan included a new tower on Linneys Mountain and voting receiver sites at Vashti and Bethlehem. The County also decided to build its own tower and final project bid was approved on May 2, 2000 with Wireless Communications. The County is to provide and install its own generator oversee electrical and phone service installation. Mr. Foxx stated that funds are being generated by the 911 surcharge collected from landlines and wireless phone systems. Both remote towers have been erected and are nearing completion and the Linneys Mountain site is approximately 75% complete.
Chairman Odom expressed his appreciation for the dedication and hard work that has been put into the communications project.
DISCUSSION WITH DR. KENNETH BOHAM, PRESIDENT OF CALDWELL COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Dr. Kenneth Boham, President of Caldwell Community College began his presentation by giving some history on Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute (CCC & TI) and discussed the Watauga Campus in detail. Dr. Boham informed the Board that the Watauga Division of Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute was established in 1973. In 1987, the Watauga County Commissioners renovated a 6,800 square foot building and turned the building over to CCC & TI. In 1988, the General Assembly designated $100,000 for the design of the first permanent building on a Watauga Campus and the county purchased a 39 acre site for the campus. A $250 million statewide community college bond referendum was approved in 1993 and $2,261,539 of the $8,361,539 given to CCC & TI was reserved to construct classrooms and labs for the Watauga Campus. In 1998, a 23,000 square foot facility opened at the Watauga Campus of CCC & TI.
Dr. Boham stated that the Watauga Campus included a staff of approximately 42 people. Several members of the Board inquired about curriculum class offerings. Dr. Boham briefly described the types of courses offered and stated that students had the choice of pursuing an Associates Degree, a certificate, or a diploma in their field of study. Certification classes, basic skills programs, GED courses, dual enrollment, and continuing education classes are also offered. Dr. Boham also stated that the Watauga Campus currently has a ESC (English as a Second Language) class being offered and that negotiations were being made with Appalachian State University to provide a Bachelor Degree program at the Watauga Campus.
Dr. Boham addressed the state bond referendum monies at this time by stating that the monies would not be given in a lump sum but spread out for a period of 6-7 years. Larry Taylor, CCC & TI Board of Trustees Chairman and County Commissioner, explained that state bond monies are stretched out for longer periods of time but the amount distributed increases every year.
Dr. Boham informed that Board that they could advertise for an architect within 3-6 months for renovation of the Grier Lackey property recently purchased by the County but stated that construction could not begin until 2002 due to slow distribution of state bond monies.
Board of Trustees representation was also discussed. Dr. Boham stated that they were willing to provide 2 positions on the Board of Trustees for Alexander County. One position would be for a 2-year term and the other for a 4-year term.
Tom McNeely, Watauga County Schools Superintendent, spoke regarding the community college issue and about his experience with Watauga County Schools.
Dr. Boham suggested that the Board meet with Jack Hoke, Alexander County Schools Superintendent, to zero in on dual enrollment interests and also meet with business industry leaders to determine their needs for occupational training.
Commissioner Harbinson expressed his appreciation to those present from CCC & TI and stated that he saw no reason to look elsewhere than CCC & TI for community college service for Alexander County. Commissioner Harbinson stated that he had heard nothing but positive things and felt confident about going with CCC & TI since Caldwell and Alexander Counties have a similar workforce.
All members of the Board conveyed their appreciation to Dr. Boham, Mr. Taylor, and Mr. McNeely for their presentation. The Board agreed that this issue would be put on the February agenda for the February Commissioners Meeting.
There being no further discussion, the meeting was adjourned at 7:15 PM.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 20, 2001
On Saturday, January 20, 2001, at 8:30 AM, the Alexander County Board of Commissioners met in the Integon Room at the Broyhill Inn & Conference Center in Boone, North Carolina to continue the 2001 Planning Retreat.
REPORT ON EDUCATION
Jack Hoke, Alexander County School Superintendent, as well as Brent Fox, Board of Education Chairman, stated that the report would consist of several issues including facilities, personnel, system grades, and new program. Mr. Hoke also stated that Tim Lackeys resignation from the Board of Education would be effective February 14, 2001 and that his seat would be filled as soon as possible. It was also stated that Craig Mayberry, Board of Education, was attending the Inauguration and could not attend the 2001 Planning Retreat.
Mr. Hoke gave an update on the following projects. Photographs were also provided.
Alexander Central High School
Orkan Architecture is to give the Board of Education a firm completion date at the February 13, 2001 meeting. The original timeline has called for completion by June 30, 2001. Mr. Hoke stated that if the facility was not completed by then, it would be his recommendation to move the 6th grade students to the middle schools in 2002-2003 and move 9th grade students to ACHS at the 2001-2002 semester break.
The Board of Education will wait until April to adopt the school calendar for the 2001-2002 school year to allow a late start to help with a move.
Central Park Softball/Soccer
Several items have been completed at Central Park including the irrigation system, dugouts, fencing, softball scoreboard, grass, parking lot, and lighting. Items remaining to be completed include the press box/concession stand, infield of softball field, renovation of concrete bleachers, installation of aluminum bleachers, batting cages and backstops.
Central Park Tennis
Several items have been completed including asphalt, fencing, and lighting. Items remaining to be completed include sealing the courts, painting the courts, seeding the area, paving the parking lot, sidewalks, and restrooms.
Mr. Hoke stated that a grand opening will be held on the weekend of March 23-24, 2001. A tennis tournament will be held for Alexander County citizens on Friday night and Saturday. A softball tournament will be held on Saturday, March 24, 2001. Mr. Hoke proposed a Home-Run Derby between the Board of Education and the Board of Commissioners during the grand opening tournaments.
Ellendale Elementary School
On January 17, 2001, the Board of Education voted to approve the financing of the new Ellendale Elementary School. The project will be financed with First Union National Bank at 4.97% for 20 years.
Mr. Hoke stated that the new Ellendale Elementary School will be a first class facility and a symbol of pride and accomplishment for the Ellendale community.
Mr. Hoke stated that the current junior high schools were overcrowded. The Board of Education plans to expand both facilities to an 800 capacity for the 2002-2003 school year.
Overcrowding is also a problem at Sugarloaf Elementary School as well as the Central Office. Both facilities are currently using mobile units. Expansion will take place in the near future.
Questions were raised about the use of the old Wittenburg Elementary School and soon to be old Ellendale Elementary School buildings. Commissioner Harbinson suggested that the Board of Education and Board of Commissioners choose 2 members each to serve on a task force to study the options for each buildings and report back at a later date.
Both boards agreed that members would be chosen at their February meetings and a recommendation would be given by April 1, 2001.
Mr. Hoke discussed the school system employment and stated that all teaching staff was 100% certified. Mr. Hoke also discussed the total number of employees within departments and stated that the school systems will be raising teacher supplements.
Mr. Hoke gave an update of the student performance, curriculum, school status, and drop-out information. Detailed information was provided to the Board which included many bar charts showing the performance for each school in Alexander County.
Mr. Hoke stated that every school in Alexander County had met expected growth. Every school has been exemplary except Stony Point and Taylorsville Elementary schools and East Junior High School. Alexander Central has gone from Low-Performing in 1996-97 and 1997-98 to Exemplary in 1998-99 and 1999-00. Stony Point Elementary student performance has improved and Wittenburg Elementary has one of the highest writing scores in North Carolina.
Mr. Hoke reviewed several items including Student Accountability Plan, Alternative School Plan, Drop-Out Reduction Plan, and curriculum expansion and improvement through CVCC relationship.
PROPOSED NEW PROGRAMS
Mr. Hoke presented a list of programs proposed by the Board of Education professional staff. Mr. Hoke stated that the Board would discuss these programs further as the budget is developed. Some proposed short-term programs are Summer Remediation Program, Expanded Exceptional Children Program, Student Assistance Team. Proposed long-term programs included Alternative School and Career and Technical Education Center at ACHS.
Mr. Hoke reviewed some of the details of the programs including total costs of each.
Commissioner Robertson suggested that the Board of Education and Board of Commissioners meet quarterly to discuss these types of issues.
There being no further discussion, the meeting was adjourned at 10:15 AM.
David S. Odom, Chairman Jamie C. Millsaps, Clerk to the Board