April 3, 2001
The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held their regular meeting on Tuesday, April 3, 2001 in the Commissioners Room in the Alexander County Courthouse, Taylorsville, North Carolina.
Chairman Odom called the Peoples Agenda to order at 6:45 PM and asked for citizen comment.
Soil & Water Technician Position Request
Bill Chapman, Alexander Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor, requested that the Board of Commissioners assist in maintaining the Soil & Water Technician position currently filled by Tonya Mitchell. The State currently funds 2 technician positions, but due to the State budget shortfall, only 1 technician position will be funded by the State for FY 2001-2002. Mr. Chapman explained that the Alexander Soil & Water Conservation District Secretary position was lost 2 years ago and that Ms. Mitchell has taken on the secretarys responsibilities as well as the technician responsibilities. Ms. Mitchell visits schools in the county to educate students on the importance of soil and water conservation and is responsible for coordinating the 5th grade Soil & Water Conservation poster contest, 6th-7th grade speech and essay contest, Environmental Field Day, Envirothon, and the annual Soil & Water Conservation Banquet. Mr. Chapman felt that Ms. Mitchell was a great asset to the Soil & Water Conservation District as well as Alexander County and urged the Board to assist in maintaining her position.
Senate Bill 374 and House Bill H-381 Concerns
There being no other citizens who asked to speak at the Peoples Agenda, Commissioner Robertson discussed the Senate Bill 374 and House Bill H381 dealing with the Mental Health System Reform. Commissioner Robertson expressed his concerns with the changes that are being proposed to the delivery of services to clients relating to Mental Health, Developmentally Disadvantaged and Substance Abuse in North Carolina (MHDDSA) which included:
Commissioner Robertson informed the Board that he had drafted a letter to Senator Stephen M. Metcalf and Representative Verla C. Insko regarding concerns with Senate Bill 374 and House Bill H381 and urged his fellow Board members to sign the letter as well. The Board agreed to do so.
Nan Campbell, Social Services Director, requested to be added to the agenda to present an amendment to the Alexander County Work First Plan.
CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Odom called the meeting to order at 7:05 PM.
INVOCATION & PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Reverend D.W. Chapman, Mt. Olive Baptist Church, gave the invocation and Randy Skinner, Hiddenite Elementary School student, led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
CITIZEN OF THE MONTH
Commissioner Harbinson presented the Citizen of the Month award to Jimmy Moretz, Founder and President of the Alexander County Redneck Club. The Redneck Club currently has 250 members and became an official organization in October 2000. The Redneck Club conducts fundraisers to help those in need in Alexander County. Commissioner Harbinson commented on the wrestling match held in January 2000 and presented Mr. Moretz with the Alexander County championship belt. The Board conveyed their respect and appreciation for Mr. Moretz.
Larry Payne, Alexander Soil & Water Conservation District, presented Alexander County Government the 2001 Community Conservation Award for installing outstanding conservation practices during county construction, activities, and improvements. Mr. Payne also recognized representatives from the Alexander Soil & Water Conservation District including Tonya Mitchell, Dan McClure, and Bill Chapman.
Doris Stephens, Library Director, informed the Board that the Library had gone live with Epixtech. The Library will no longer be using a card catalog to locate books; all information will be available on a computer system. The Library will have a better records keeping system. Ms. Stephens noted that new library cards are being issued.
Ms. Stephens thanked the Library staff and Information Technology staff for their help with this project.
Chairman Odom gave the Chairmans Report which included the following information:
ADOPTION OF AGENDA
Chairman Odom requested a few amendments to the agenda. The amendment to the Alexander County Work First Plan was added as the first item on the agenda. The update on ACHS, New Ellendale Elementary, and Central Park was moved to the second item on the agenda. Discussion on General Statute 162-5 and 162.1 was moved under Other Business as well as a report from Rick French, County Manager. Budget amendment #28 was added to the Consent Agenda.
Commissioner Watts made a motion to adopt the agenda as amended. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
AMENDMENT TO ALEXANDER COUNTY WORK FIRST PLAN
Nan Campbell, Social Services Director, stated that a letter was received from the State Division of Social Services asking for revision/clarifications on 2 components of the Alexander County Work First Plan. These included clarification of the emergency assistance definition and revision of retention services.
Commissioner Watts made a motion to approve the revisions/clarifications to the Alexander County Work First Plan. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
UPDATE ON ALEXANDER CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL, NEW ELLENDALE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, AND CENTRAL PARK
Jack Hoke, Alexander County Schools Superintendent, gave an update on the following projects:
Alexander Central High School
The Band building, classrooms, cafeteria, and administration wing should be completed by July 27, 2001. The gym should be completed by early August, 2001. There will be a walk-through tour of the additions and renovations for the Board of Education and school staff on May 27, 2001. The Board of Education will adopt the 2001-2002 school year calendar at their next meeting and will schedule the first day of school as late as possible to allow a little extra time to get ready the 9th grade move to ACHS and the 6th grade move to EJHS and WJHS.
Mr. Hoke noted that he was very pleased with the work Hickory Construction has done at ACHS. The Board of Education meets with them twice per month so contact is made on a regular basis.
New Ellendale Elementary School
Grading and clearing has begun at the site for the new Ellendale Elementary School. Wilkie Construction was selected as the architectural firm for the construction of the school. The Board of Education will meet with Wilkie officials twice per month. There will be a groundbreaking ceremony held probably in May.
Commissioner Watts asked if any problems would be incurred due to ACHS and Ellendale projects going on at the same time. Mr. Hoke responded that no problems were expected.
Commissioner Watts stated that he was pleased to see the continuing progress of the projects. Mr. Hoke conveyed his appreciation to the Board for their cooperation.
VFW POST 5466 SPACE REQUEST FOR MONUMENT ON COURTHOUSE LAWN
James Friday, Commander of VFW Post 5466, approached the Board with a request for space on the Alexander County Courthouse lawn for Civil War monument. This request was first introduced at the March 20, 2001 Commissioners Meeting. VFW Post 5466 has requested the space between the canon and the big tree for the monument. Mr. Friday informed the Board that 2 additional names had been added to the list of Alexander County residents that lost their lives in the Civil War bringing the total to 321. These names will be engraved on the proposed monument. Mr. Friday stated that he had spoken with Rev. Sterling Howard, NAACP, Magistrate Everette Dula, and Helen Anthony, Human Relations Council, to explain the reasoning behind the monument request and ensure that no offense would be taken. The monument will be 7 feet tall, 4 feet wide, and 8 inches thick. There will be 2 medallions on the monument and there will be no coloring applied. The monument will have the inscription "The Alexander Boys". During the Civil War, Alexander County had a population of 5,000. Approximately 1,000 Alexander County residents fought in the war and 321 lost their lives.
Commissioner Harbinson commented that this was no racial issue and that this was simply to honor those individuals who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Commissioner Harbinson also mentioned the inscription on the soldier monument on the Courthouse lawn written by attorney Gus Beckam. There is a monument on the Courthouse lawn for every war except the Civil War. The proposed monument would complete the list.
The entire Board thanked Mr. Friday for speaking with Rev. Sterling Howard, Everette Dula, and Helen Anthony beforehand.
Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to approve the request for space on the Courthouse lawn for a monument in honor of those who lost their lives in the Civil War. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
REZONING CASE 00-5: JAMES BELCHER, JR.
Sylvia Turnmire, Director of Planning & Development, presented Rezoning Case 00-5 applied for by James Belcher, Jr. The property is along Rink Dam Road and is currently zoned RA-20 (Residential Agricultural). Mr. Belcher requested rezoning to H-C (Highway Commercial). A public hearing was held on the rezoning request at the Commissioners Meeting on January 9, 2001. During the public hearing, Dent Allison, President of Shook Builders Supply and partner in the Wittenburg Subdivision, stated that he was in opposition of the request. The Board tabled the action on the request until the new Zoning Ordinance was adopted.
Ms. Turnmire stated that since the January 9, 2001 meeting, Mr. Belcher had replaced the singlewide manufactured home and had subdivided the property so that an additional singlewide home may be placed in the rear of the property. Ms. Turnmire stated that the Planning & Zoning Commission recommended approval of the rezoning by a 4 to 1 vote.
Commissioner Robertson asked if Mr. Belcher and Mr. Allison had met and discussed the rezoning further and also if a use for the property had been determined. Mr. Belcher stated that he had not spoken with Mr. Allison since the January 9, 2001 meeting and had not decided on a use for the property.
Commissioner Hammer made a motion to approve the Rezoning Case 00-5 for James Belcher, Jr. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULE
The Charter Communications representative was not present at the meeting. Commissioner Watts recognized Karl Lenz who stated that he had been trying to get cable along County Home Road for a long period of time. Charter Communications has completed 4 surveys for Mr. Lenz to determine if there are enough residents along his road to install cable. Cable has been installed to some residents. Mr. Lenz contacted Charter Communications 4 or 5 weeks ago and was informed that he would be put on the schedule for April or May.
Commissioner Harbinson inquired about the future use of the Alexander County Government Channel and suggested videos of local sporting events.
Commissioner Robertson suggested that Commissioner Watts write a letter to Charter Communications requesting a work session to discuss service and the construction schedule. Commissioner Robertson stated that he would like a written response from Charter Communications before the work session.
UNPAVED ROAD IMPROVEMENT PILOT PROGRAM
Sylvia Turnmire, Director of Planning & Development, presented a copy of House Bill 1840 Section 25.4(a) that was enacted by the 2000 General Assembly appropriating funds for a pilot program to improve unpaved roads that are not on the state system. The legislation allocates $1.5 million from the Highway Fund for the 2000-2001 Fiscal year. Alexander County is 1 of the 14 counties selected for this program. A written response must be sent to the NCDOT that acknowledges that Alexander County wants to be included in the program.
Commissioner Harbinson made a motion that Ms. Turnmire respond to the NCDOT that Alexander County wants to be included in the program. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
UNIFOUR SALES DISCUSSION
Commissioner Harbinson presented House Bill 99 to authorize counties and cities to levy a menu of local option taxes if approved by the voters in a referendum. The additional 1 cent sales tax could be levied to reduce property tax rates. Minutes were provided from May 4, 1998 and January 5, 1999 Commissioners Meetings in which this issue was discussed.
Commissioner Harbinson made a motion that Chairman Odom write a letter to the General Assembly in support of House Bill 99. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
AUDIT COMMITTEE APPOINTMENTS
Rick French, County Manager, reported that according to Martin Starnes & Associates, a growing number of government units are developing audit committees to oversee the finance department and the audit process. The main purpose of the audit committee is to provide the auditor with a liaison to communicate findings and any problems the auditor may have with management.
Mr. French suggested that Commissioner Watts and Commissioner Robertson be appointed to the audit committee.
Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to appoint Commissioners Watts and Robertson to the audit committee. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
CONSIDERATION OF PERSONNEL POLICIES
Rick French, County Manager, presented draft copies of the Alexander County Shared Leave Pool Policy, Substance Abuse Policy, and Sexual Harassment Policy. Jim Riley, Human Resources Director, has reviewed these policies and made revisions and updated information.
Commissioner Robertson requested that all department heads review the policies before they are adopted by the Board. Commissioner Robertson also asked Mr. Riley if there was a section in the Sexual Harassment Policy that addressed accusations made by an employee for the purpose of simply getting another employee into trouble for personal reasons. Mr. Riley responded that he thought there was a section that addressed that issue but would review the policy to be certain.
Discussion of General Statue 162-5 and 162-5.1
Ray Warren, Sheriff, stated that Alexander County is currently governed by G.S. 162-5 which gives the Board of Commissioners the authority to appoint a person of their choice to fill the Sheriffs position in the case that the Sheriff dies or cannot perform the job. Mr. Warren requested asking the General Assembly to include Alexander County under G.S. 162-5.1 which would give the Sheriffs political party authority to appoint a person to fill the Sheriffs position in the case that the Sheriff dies or cannot perform the job. The appointment must be made within 30 days of the absence of the Sheriff. In the case that the Sheriff is an Independent, the Board of Commissioners would make the appointment. The Clerk of Court and Register of Deeds offices are currently governed by G.S. 162-5.1. There are also 43 counties in NC that are governed by G.S. 162-5.1.
Commissioner Robertson inquired about the coroner position. Mr. Warren stated that the coroner position was abolished when the medical examiner position was established.
Commissioner Robertson made a motion to authorize Chairman Odom to write a letter to the General Assembly in which the entire Board will sign requesting that Alexander County be included under G.S. 162-5.1. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Report from the County Manager
Rick French, County Manager, gave a report on the following:
Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to approve the Consent Agenda. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
CLOSED SESSION PERSONNEL & LEGAL MATTERS
Commissioner Watts made a motion to enter into Closed Session at 8:45 PM for the purpose of discussing personnel and legal matters. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
There being no further business, Commissioner Watts made a motion to adjourn at 10:00 PM. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
David S. Odom, Chairman Jamie C. Millsaps, Clerk to the Board