August 21, 2001

PRESENT: David S. Odom, Chairman
Joel C. Harbinson, Vice-Chairman
William L. Hammer
W. Darrell Robertson (late)
John F. Watts
STAFF: Rick French, County Manager
Patti Foster, Transportation Director
Russell Greene, Fire Marshall
David Icenhour, Public Information Director
Nolan Jarvis, EMS Director
Jamie Millsaps, Clerk to the Board
Jim Riley, Human Resources Director
Ray Warren, Sheriff
MEDIA: Lonnie Carrigan, WACB


The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held a work session on Tuesday, August 21, 2001 in the Agriculture Extension Learning Center in the Administration Building, Taylorsville, North Carolina.


Chairman David Odom called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM. Commissioner John Watts gave the invocation.


Commissioner Watts made a motion to adopt the agenda as presented. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.


Jack Hoke, Alexander County Schools Superintendent, gave an update on the following projects:

               Alexander Central High School

Mr. Hoke stated that students were in the new building at ACHS and that a temporary certificate of occupancy had been obtained for the new buildings except for the gym. The gym is scheduled to be completed October 1, 2001. The locker rooms are scheduled to be completed September 3, 2001. Mr. Hoke noted that traffic had been a minor problem but stated that the Taylorsville Police Department had been assisting at ACHS and felt the traffic issue would improve. Mr. Hoke also discussed the new cafeteria and stated that students were being served in 3 separate groups at lunch.

At this time, Commissioner Robertson entered the meeting. The time was 7:10 PM.

Ellendale Elementary School

Mr. Hoke stated the steel and wall sections had been placed at the new Ellendale Elementary School site. The new school should be completed by May 2002.


Mr. Hoke informed the Board that the State had projected an enrollment of 5,445 for Alexander County Schools for 2001-2002. Approximately 5,565 students are currently enrolled. Mr. Hoke stated that he expected the enrollment to grow as time goes on. Approximately 1,560 students are enrolled at ACHS.

Plans for Middle Schools

Mr. Hoke discussed future plans and stated that the next project would be 2 10-classroom additions to East and West Middle Schools. Mr. Hoke explained that the additions would be connected to the existing structures. The projected cost for the project totals approximately $3.75 million. Mr. Hoke presented a copy of a floor plan for the additions to the middle schools. Mr. Hoke stated that enrollment continues to grow and that the middle schools were in need of these additions.

Old Wittenburg School

Mr. Hoke informed the Board that the Wittenburg Task Force had met several times to discuss a use for the old Wittenburg Elementary School. Several suggestions have been made including an alternate learning center. It has been proposed to allow several county offices to move into the building. Mr. Hoke stated that the school would be an ideal place for the Recreation Department since it has a gym and several ball fields. Negotiations will continue.

CVCC/Alexander Center

Mr. Hoke discussed dual enrollment through CVCC and stated that 20 ACHS students were dual enrolled for first semester and 18 students enrolled for the second semester and felt that more students would enroll when the new CVCC/Alexander Center opened. Mr. Hoke explained that dual enrollment allows a student to earn both high school and college credit. ACHS provides transportation to CVCC for dual enrolled students. The student is only financially responsible for books.

Commissioner Watts asked Mr. Hoke about the 10-day attendance funding from the State. Mr. Hoke responded that State would provide additional teacher funding if enrollment was at least 100 students over the State’s projection after the 10th day of school. Enrollment for Alexander County Schools was 102 over the State’s projection as of August 21, 2001 which was the 3rd day of school.

Commissioner Watts asked how many locally paid teachers were employed in the Alexander County School system. Mr. Hoke responded 9 teachers were paid locally.

Commissioner Harbinson asked about the 6th and 9th grade transitions. Mr. Hoke explained that the transitions were very smooth and effective and that parents were also pleased.

Mr. Hoke stated that several revenue sources had helped on the current projects including public school funding ($1.622 million), bond monies ($1.865 million), cent sales tax ($3.729 million), and the installment financing loan approved by the county ($1.6 million) for 10 years. Mr. Hoke mentioned that Sharon Mehaffey, School Finance Officer, was developing a financial plan without using the cent sales tax monies for payment of future projects.

Commissioner Hammer stated that he had received word that some classrooms were still sharing space and asked if ACHS had enough classroom space. Mr. Hoke replied that ACHS had adequate space but that some classrooms would still be sharing in order to provide more space for others.

Commissioner Watts asked if the new Ellendale Elementary School project was still within budget. Mr. Hoke stated that it was.

Commissioner Robertson mentioned the Blue Ribbon Committee and stated that the committee had suggested these projects several years ago and felt that the committee may be needed again to study future projects. Commissioner Robertson asked if the new census would affect the school redistricting. Mr. Fox stated that the census was not expected to affect redistricting but felt that no one would have concerns about substandard facilities in the case that it did affect redistricting because all of Alexander County schools would be up-to-date.

Chairman Odom stated that he talked with some ACHS students at Jones’ Fish Camp over the weekend and explained that the students were excited and happy about the new additions to the school.

Brent Fox, Board of Education Chairman, thanked the Board for the opportunity to work together and stated that he looked forward to the meeting between the Board of Commissioners and Board Education.

Dale Clary, Board of Education Vice-Chairman, stated that he was proud that both boards could come together. Mr. Clary stated that staff had listened to parents concerns over the years and felt that they were getting the best facilities for the students.

Commissioner Watts commended the Board of Education, staff, and construction workers on the additions to ACHS and felt the new additions projected a different atmosphere. Commissioner Watts suggested that the Board of Commissioners and Board of Education hold a meeting soon to discuss future school improvements and needs.

Discussion was held regarding scheduling the meeting. It was agreed that the meeting would be held on September 25, 2001 in the new cafeteria.

Chairman Odom stated that he had gotten all positive comments from Alexander County citizens and thanked the Board of Education and staff for a job well done.


Jim Powell, ADW Architects P.A., gave an update on the CVCC/Alexander Center and stated that staff was in the middle of scematic design and design development. Mr. Powell stated that the State allowed them to combine the two since it was an existing building.

Mr. Powell stated that staff had met with both CVCC and Alexander County officials to gather input on what needs each had for the building.

Mr. Powell voiced concerns about a storm sewer pipe located underneath the 15,000 square foot building and stated that he had been informed that the sewer pipe was encased in another larger pipe which reduced some concerns. Mr. Powell also stated that there was a 15-inch sanitary sewer main which ran along the building to the street. Staff will gather information on the age of the sewer lines.

Mr. Powell distributed floor plans for the CVCC/Alexander Center which included a base bid floor plan and an alternate floor plan. The base bid floor plan would be the basic plan to cover all needs and remain within budget. The alternate floor plan could be completed if any remaining funds are left after the base bid floor plan is completed.

Base Bid Floor Plans

Mr. Powell stated that the base bid floor plan included the following:

    1. Restriping of the parking lot.
    2. Relocation of mechanical units and screen walls.
    3. New covered side entry with handicap ramps.
    4. A vestibule and lobby, 10 classrooms, a catering kitchen, a large conference room, a break area, 2 bathrooms with multiple fixtures, and a large multipurpose room.
    5. An Administrative Office block.
    6. Ribbon windows.
    7. Closing in of docks with brick.

Mr. Powell stated that CVCC and Alexander County information could be placed in the lobby of the building. Mr. Powell stated that a permanent platform would be placed in the multipurpose room for the Commissioners desk. An audiovisual room would also be in the multipurpose room as well as a sound and light booth.

Commissioner Harbinson discussed the multipurpose room and suggested that the Board of Education use the room if needed.

Alternate Floor Plans

Mr. Powell stated that the alternate floor plan would include the following:

    1. An 8-foot green zone grass, trees, and shrubs along the outside of building.
    2. Concrete walkways and benches.

Mr. Powell stated that a possible 9,000 square foot future building could be built next to the CVCC/Alexander Center which could be connected by a gathering area. A larger parking area could also be added in the future.

Mr. Powell stated that a meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, August 29, 2001 to meeting with CVCC and County Information Technology staff to discuss technology needs for the building. Commissioner Watts stated that he had talked with Dr. Cuyler Dunbar about the latest technology and how to phase the latest technology in. Alan Kirby, CVCC Instructional Coordinator, mentioned Ken Hutchenson for consulting on where to place blocking and conduit for future technology use.

Mr. Powell discussed the bond monies and stated that the State would only pay for renovations which did not include equipment, landscaping, etc. and noted that Lorrie Zimmerman had sent a detailed list of renovations to officials in Raleigh to find out what the State will pay for on the CVCC/Alexander Center.

Commissioner Robertson stated that a schedule would be needed to determine when the multipurpose room would be used by the Board of Commissioners, Board of Education, CVCC staff, or others to avoid overlapping schedules. Commissioner Robertson also discussed the sewer line and stated that the age of the line was unknown and felt it should be researched to determine if the line is stable before beginning renovations. Commissioner Robertson also informed Mr. Powell that a repair collar could be found in the creek behind the building.

Mr. Powell also stated that there was currently a inch water line at the site and that a 2-inch line would need to be installed.

Commissioner Robertson discussed the partitions for the multipurpose room and suggested putting them in later if the cost was going to be very expensive. Mr. Powell stated that the partitions would be needed because to prevent disturbances of other meetings. The partitians wil be sound insulated and air locking.

Commissioner Harbinson, as well as all Board members, thanked Mr. Powell and staff for a great job on the plans and felt the building would be very functional for all.


Ray Warren, Sheriff, discussed the No-Wake Zones on Lake Hickory. Sheriff Warren informed the Board that the Sheriff’s Department had an 18-foot boat that was provided by Crimestoppers which is used to patrol Lake Hickory mostly on holidays such as 4th of July and Labor Day. Sheriff Warren stated that staff patroled Lake Hickory for law enforcement more often than for safety issues.

At the August 7, 2001 meeting, Chairman David Odom suggested discussing with Sheriff Warren the possibility of the Sheriff’s Department patroling Lake Hickory more often and in more coves. Sheriff Warren explained that it was very expensive to staff 2 deputies on the boat and would cost more than a patrol car. Sheriff Warren stated that most patroling was done at the Sandbar and congregating areas than in coves.

Commissioner Hammer asked if the Sheriff’s Department received many complaints from cove property owners. Sheriff Warren responded that they generally didn’t receive complaints from anyone. Commissioner Hammer also asked if the Sheriff’s Department was involved in establishing current No-Wake Zones. Sheriff Warren responded that the Sheriff’s Department did not have any involvement in establishing No-Wake Zones and that the NC Wildlife Resources Commission handled No-Wake Zones on Lake Hickory.

Commissioner Watts asked about jurisdiction between Catawba County and Alexander County. Sheriff Warren stated that they shared jurisdiction.

Commissioner Robertson asked if Duke Power had any jurisdiction on Lake Hickory. Sheriff Warren stated he wasn’t sure.

Commissioner Robertson noted that only 3 out of 50 cove property owners along TJ Cove View had asked for a No-Wake Zone to be established at the August 7, 2001 and felt that more requests were need before consideration by the Board. Commissioner Robertson suggested talking to other counties about how they handle No-Wake Zones.

Additional Update – Juvenile Detention Right-of-Way

Sheriff Warren also stated that he had spoken with Roger Young, Juvenile Detention Project Director, regarding the 60 feet of driveway in question for ownership by Alexander County. Sheriff Warren stated that $18,730 had been requested to pave the driveway. Sheriff Warren stated that he would need a letter from Rick approving the paving. Sheriff Warren also stated that county staff should receive a letter from the State approving the transfer of property to Alexander County.

Commissioner Robertson stated that he would like to see the actual numbers. Commissioner Hammer asked if the agreement would include allowing the county to keep the buildings behind the juvenile detention center. Sheriff Warren replied that the county would keep the buildings but that there would be some restrictions of use.


Chuck Wiles, City of Hickory Transportation Planner, presented the Piedmont Wagon Transit System (PWTS) Master Plan for the 4 county region (Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba) and stated the PWTS Mater Plan was presented and approved by the Piedmont Wagon Transit Consortium, the Transportation Advisory Board, and the WPCOG Metropolitan Planning Organization in Catawba County.

A slide show was presented to explain the PWTS Master Plan. Mr. Wiles stated that their goal was to design a safe, effective, efficient, and financially feasibly public transit network which would provide mobility for all residents, would be complimentary to other means of transportation, and would facilitate a balanced and modern multi-model transportation system.

Several PWTS objectives were discussed including encouraging land density patterns that promote transit efficiency, encouraging private-sector transportation investments, minimizing use of fossil fuels and vehicle operating costs, continuing to search for innovative and flexible transportation solutions, expanding existing routes to areas that have potential to generate new riders, maximizing access to bus stops and minimizing travel time, to name a few.

Mr. Wiles stated that the expected benefits of the PWTS included the following:

    1. Making planned traffic management more effective and efficient.
    2. Improving air quality and assisting local authorities with meeting federal requirements.
    3. Decreasing traffic congestion and reducing the total number of vehicle miles traveled.
    4. Improving connectivity.
    5. Providing citizens with alternative modes of transportation and offering an alternative lifestyle that is much less dependent on automobiles.
    6. Increasing accessibility of commercial, manufacturing, industrial, tourist, and residential areas throughout the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) urban area.
    7. Increasing economic potential throughout the region.
    8. Improving citizens’ mobility, whereby creating a more flexible labor market.

Mr. Wiles explained that the PWTS was set up as a consortium and financed by the cities of Hickory, Newton, Conover, and Catawba County. The PWTS currently operates 4 bus routes and serves approximately 550 riders per day.

Mr. Wiles stated that the cost of implementing the PWTS Master Plan over a 25-year time period would cost $79.6 million. The federal government will fund approximately 52 % of this cost totaling $41 million. These costs would include the purchase of new buses and associated maintenance, the multi-modal transportation facility, the PWTS administrative, operations, and maintenance facility and service improvements.

Mr. Wiles noted that this was a non-committal agreement and Alexander County had no financial commitment to the program.

Mike Bradshaw, City of Hickory Transportation Planner, stated that the funding would be paid by the 4 county region. Mr. Bradshaw also mentioned that the full length plan was 260 pages long and took 18 months to complete. Mr. Bradshaw discussed regionalism and stated that some counties were implementing regionalism and that those counties were more favored by the NC Department of Transportation.

Commissioner Robertson asked approximately how many cars had been taken off the road by using PWTS. Mr. Bradshaw responded approximately 260 cars.

Patti Foster, Transportation Director, stated that Alexander County had no fixed transportation routes or general public out-of-county transportation.

The Board agreed to consider the PWTS Master Plan at the September 11, 2001 Commissioners’ Meeting.


Nolan Jarvis, EMS Director, stated that it was too soon to assess the impact on EMS as a result of the closing of Alexander Community Hospital. Mr. Jarvis stated that calls were taking longer due to traveling out-of-county and noted that one ambulance unit was tied up at all times but felt that EMS could handle the extra work load.

Mr. Jarvis stated that the system was not stressed at the present time but stated that only time would tell. Mr. Jarvis noted that the ambulance units were gaining additional mileage due to extended travel and suggested that a replacement unit be purchased as soon as possible. Mr. Jarvis explained that 2 units were currently over 100,000 and that one of the newest ones had an electrical problem that has not yet been fixed.

Discussion was held regarding transporting retirement and nursing home patients. Patti Foster, Transportation Director, stated the retirement and nursing homes could contract with EMS or Transportation but that it would be cheaper for them to provide their own emergency vehicle and transportation.

Chairman Odom stated his concerns with the unit replacement and felt that they should not wait until word was received from the State on the budget to purchase a replacement. Chairman Odom suggested developing a plan to purchase a replacement as requested. The Board agreed with Chairman Odom. Commissioner Robertson asked that staff work on getting information to the Board. Commissioner Watts asked that Rick French, County Manager, look into funding.

Commissioner Hammer asked who serviced the ambulance units. Mr. Jarvis responded Paul Rhyne did on-site repair calls and Main Street Tire performed oil changes and services, etc.


The following items were discussed under Other Business:

Southern Pine Beetles

Russell Greene, Fire Marshal, stated that Southern Pine Beetles have destroyed 5 acres of Pine trees within the 160-acre tract around the Landfill. Forest Ranger, Dennis Wahlers, flew over the area to inspect the damage in July and again in August. Mr. Wahlers has made a recommendation to hire a consulting forester, Ray Taylor, who will make a recommendation to the Board as to how to eliminate the beetles. Staff may recommend cutting the timber and removing it.

Commissioner Robertson stated that he thought the land has been approved for a landfill extension and stated that the matter should be looked into before cutting the timber.

Water Issues

Russell Greene, Fire Marshal, discussed the following water issues:

    1. A water petition was received from residents of Highway 127. Mr. Greene stated that an 8-inch line was needed to provide water to those who signed the petition. The project would cost approximately $330,000. Mr. Greene explained that some residents who signed the petition lived on outer roads off of Highway 127. Mr. Greene stated that a water line run along Highway 127 would still not provide water to these individuals.
    2. A water petition was received from residents of the Sulpher Springs area, mostly along Rocky Springs Road. Mr. Greene stated that he had spoken with Rod Watts, Energy United, about the need for water. Mr. Watts informed him that the Sulpher Springs area was not included in Energy United’s 3-year plan because the area is mostly rock and would not be suitable for water lines.
    3. Mr. Greene explained that he had spoken with Estelle Rogers, resident of Jenkins Loop Road, who has requested water to be run along Jenkins Loop Road from the Liledoun water line. The project will cost approximately $6,000. Mr. Greene stated that the water line would only serve 3 households.
    4. Residents of Advent Church Road recently bought $50 water taps to tap onto a water line. After researching the project, it was determined that a pump station was needed to pump water to residents located up hill. Mr. Greene stated that a pump station would be very expensive. Mr. Greene stated that he would be researching the issue further.
    5. Mr. Greene stated that he had spoken to Silas Deal Road residents regarding water. The residents are currently 1 miles away from a water line. The project would cost $150,000 to run a 6 or 8-inch water line.
    6. Mr. Greene discussed the Hal Hefner project on Highway 16 South. The county has designated $10,000 toward an 8-inch water line on the property. Mr. Hefner will be responsible for installation costs.

Mr. Greene stated that the county currently had no funds budgeted to install water lines to any area in Alexander County and that there was no CDBG grant money available. Mr. Greene stated that he would contact Nancy Coley, WPCOG, regarding critical use fund but felt that there would not be enough funding.

Chairman Odom asked if any revenues had been collected from the City of Hickory water agreement. Rick French, County Manager, stated that small amounts had been collected but noted that there were only 1,200 customers on that system. Mr. French noted that there was some discussion regarding combining water districts. This would make the system easier to track and would produce more revenues.

Gwaltneys Fire Department

Mr. Greene stated that estimates had been received for the new Gwaltneys Fire Department building. The estimate for a shell building totaled $121,000 and a turn key building totaled $164,000 which was too expensive. Discussion is being held with representatives from Midstate Metals regarding a 40 x 100 shell building with 6 x 6 trusses for $60,000. Mr. Greene stated that he didn’t know at the present time if the metal building would pass NC Building Code. Information will be sent to the Building Inspections Office before construction begins.

Mr. Greene informed the Board that Douglas and Sons Trucking had donated a truck to the Gwaltneys Fire Department.

Grounds Crew

Mr. Greene briefly discussed the grounds crew and asked that employees commend them when they had an opportunity. Mr. Greene stated that the crew was mowing approximately 150 acres of county property.

Animal Shelter Site

Rick French, County Manager, stated that the site for the new animal shelter had been moved from it originally proposed location. The animal shelter will now be placed in the open field in front of Leelands.

Budget Books

Mr. French informed the Board that Administration staff was in the process of preparing annual budget books.


After reviewing the County Manager’s Report which was distributed, Commissioner Robertson asked for an explanation of the Town right-of-way issue between the Library and property owned by Clay Elledge. Commissioner Watts explained that Mr. Elledge’s property was sold and that it was discovered that a portion of his carport was located on 66 feet of Town right-of-way. In order to clear the deed for this area, the Town Commissioners will be considering closing approximately 20 feet of the eastern portion of the right-of-way. This will still allow adequate access to the Library and houses located behind the Library.

Commissioner Robertson suggested that Chairman Odom serve as the representative at the Town meeting to be held on September 6, 2001.

Commissioner Robertson discussed the WPCOG site master plan for Dusty Ridge Park and stated that the $5,000 fee should be adjusted since items 3 through 7 had already been completed.


There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 10:00 PM.



  David S. Odom, Chairman           Jamie C. Millsaps, Clerk to the Board