November 13, 2001
The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held its regular meeting on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 in the Commissioners Room of the Alexander County Courthouse, Taylorsville, North Carolina.
No citizens asked to speak at the Peoples Agenda. Therefore, the following information was discussed:
CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Odom called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.
Reverend David Chapman, Pastor of Mountain Ridge Baptist Church, gave the invocation and Jonathan Williams, student as Ellendale Elementary School, led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
CITIZEN OF THE MONTH
Commissioner Harbinson presented the Citizen of the Month award to Bob Peoples and explained that Mr. Peoples was scheduled to receive this award in October but was unable to attend the October Commissioners Meeting to receive his award. Commissioner Harbinson noted that Mr. Peoples, Lions Club Member, had served as the "Economic Development Director" of Energy United in Stony Point and was responsible for getting water to many citizens in Alexander County. Commissioner Harbinson thanked Mr. Peoples for his professional and civic contributions.
Mr. Peoples stated that he had lived in Alexander County for 15 years and was proud to be apart of the county. Mr. Peoples also recognized the Lions Club President, Larry Yoder, who was also present at the meeting.
Chairman Odom gave the Chairmans Report which included the following information:
ADOPTION OF AGENDA
Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to adopt the agenda as presented. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
PUBLIC HEARING: HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS DISPLAY
Commissioner Harbinson discussed the 1980 US Supreme Court ruling which states the posting of the Ten Commandments alone within public schools was unconstitutional. Commissioner Harbinson then stated that the November 2, 1999 vote to display the Ten Commandments alone in all public schools resulted in 1 for the vote, 2 against, and 1 abstention and explained that the Board had a duty to uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States and North Carolina. Therefore, Commissioners Harbinson and Odom purchased copies of the Ten Commandments which were placed in several locations in the Courthouse including the Commissioners Room, the courtrooms, and several hallways. Commissioner Harbinson then explained that the General Assembly had approved House Bill 195 which allows public schools to display historically significant documents including the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Ten Commandments.
At this time, Commissioner Watts entered the meeting. The time was 7:10 PM.
House Bill 195 reads: "A local school administrative unit may display on real property controlled by that local school administrative unit documents and objects of historical significance that have formed and influenced the United States legal or governmental system and that exemplify the development of the rule of law, such as the Magna Carta, the Mecklenburg Declaration, the Ten Commandments, the Justinian Code and documents set out in subdivision (3a) of this subsection. This display may include, but shall not be limited to, documents that contain words associated with a religion; provided however, no display shall seek to establish or promote religion or to persuade any person to embrace a particular religion, denomination of religion, or other philosophy".
Commissioner Harbinson noted that the Board of Commissioners did not have the authority to place these documents in the public schools and that it only could be authorized by the Board of Education. Commissioner Harbinson stated that the Board of Commissioners would agree to provide the funding to purchase these documents to be placed in Alexander County Schools. Commissioner Harbinson also stated that the NC Chapter of American Civil Liberties Union had threatened to sue all NC counties that place the Ten Commandments in their public schools but noted that the Board of Commissioners would also agree to provide the legal defense on behalf of the Board of Education if litigation took place.
David Icenhour, Public Information / Human Resources Director, noted that on September 18, 2001 the Board voted to submit petitions in support of purchasing a set of historical documents including the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and the Ten Commandments for each of the 10 public schools and requesting the Board of Education to give permission for the documents to be placed in each school. The petitions were mailed to 100 churches, 25 civic clubs, businesses, and organizations, and were advertised on the county web site and WACB radio station. Mr. Icenhour reported that 24 churches returned petitions which included 1,898 signatures. Several petitions were returned from businesses, civic clubs, and some from unknown locations totaling 2,206 signatures. The number of signatures submitted on the petitions totaled 4,104.
Chairman David Odom called the public hearing to order and asked for citizen comment.
Scott Ferguson stated that he would like to hear each Board members view on the placement of the Ten Commandments and how the county would react in case a lawsuit is filed against the county.
Rev. David Chapman discussed how different people from different affiliations and denominations had come together in unity lately. Rev. David Chapman read the "Mary Had a Little Lamb" nursery rhyme that had been altered to discuss taking God and prayer out of schools.
Darrell Pierce stated that he was in support of the placement of the Ten Commandments in public schools. Mr. Pierce also stated that he was disappointed that this issue had been voted down in 1999 and had to be brought up again. Mr. Pierce felt that school was a big influence on children because the children listen to their teachers and take what they say as the truth. Mr. Pierce felt that placing the Ten Commandments in public schools would also influence children in a positive way.
Judy Rairdon discussed the meaning of the US Constitution, the NC Constitution, and noted that the preamble to the NC Constitution discussed God. Ms. Rairdon also noted that when elected officials take an oath, they state the words "so help me God" while placing their hand on the Bible and felt that it was ridiculous to try to take God out of schools when the entire nation was structured around the belief in God.
Patty Longworth felt that the teaching of God should begin with the county leaders so that parents would be led to teach their children, etc. Ms. Longworth quoted scripture from Joshua 24:15 and Jeremiah 32:17 and stated that the county leaders should stand up for God.
Seth W. Chapman, Alexander County Clerk of Court, stated that placing the Ten Commandments in schools was the right thing to do and felt that doing so would make Alexander County a leader for the rest of the State and possibly the nation. Mr. Chapman noted that the law was based on the Ten Commandments and felt that the Ten Commandments should not only be posted on a wall but should be taught at home as well. Mr. Chapman asked for the Board of Commissioners support and urged the Board of Education to place the Ten Commandments in the 10 public schools in Alexander County. Mr. Chapman also urged the public to anticipate a lawsuit from the NC American Civil Liberties Union.
Rev. Darren Lambert felt that it was sad to have to use a premise of historical documents to be able to place the Ten Commandments in public schools but felt it was a good start. Rev. Lambert agreed that the Ten Commandments was a document that influenced the nation and should be included. Mr. Lambert briefly discussed the noted legal scholar Blackstone who when discussing a principle law would support it with Scripture.
Commissioner Robertson stated that when he ran for the office of county commissioner 5 years ago, he did so because he felt that Christians should be active in government and should be represented. Commissioner Robertson stated that many people, especially those overseas, did not have the freedom of worship and religion because the government established the religion in which to follow and noted that the US Constitution and other laws were written so that our government could not establish a particular religion. Commissioner Robertson also noted that the Board of Education would make the final decision as to whether or not the historical documents would be placed in the schools and suggested that the Board of Commissioners and Board of Education hold a joint meeting to discuss the issue.
Commissioner Watts informed everyone that if the Board voted tonight to purchase the documents that they would not be in the schools tomorrow. Commissioner Watts reiterated that the decision to place the documents in the schools would be that of the Board of Education and noted that the Board of Education would need to discuss the issue among themselves and their lawyers before a decision could be made. Commissioner Watts also stated that the public should expect litigation if these documents are placed within the public schools.
Commissioner Harbinson again discussed the November 2, 1999 vote and felt that they had a legitimate right to take the action as proposed due to the General Assembly passing House Bill 195. Commissioner Harbinson also stated that a petition was not necessary to place the historical documents in the schools but that the petitions were distributed because the Board felt the citizens would want to be a part of it. Commissioner Harbinson then read a statement which is hereby made a part of these minutes.
Chairman Odom thanked all citizens that spoke and also discussed the November 2, 1999 vote against placing the Ten Commandments alone in the public schools. Chairman Odom explained that the Board of Commissioners had to uphold the interpretations of the law issued by the US Supreme Court. Chairman Odom noted that the Board would stand behind the Board of Education and stated that he hoped the public would stand behind them when hard times and litigation came.
There being no further public comment, Commissioner Watts made a motion to close the public hearing. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to seek permission from the Board of Education to post in each of the local public schools the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Ten Commandments to be purchased by the Board of Commissioners and to provide the necessary legal defense on behalf of the Board of Education in case of litigation. Commissioner Robertson asked to amend the motion to include the Magna Carta and the Mecklenburg Declaration in the posting of the historical documents. Commissioner Harbinson agreed and Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
PUBLIC HEARING: CDBG / INDIVIDUAL DEVELOPMENT ACCOUNT
Nancy Coley, WPCOG Community Development Administrator, conducted the public hearing to receive public comment for the development of a $50,000 Individual Development Account Community Development Block Grant application. Ms. Coley explained that the application proposed to assist 30 potential first-time homebuyers in the Unifour Area who previously could not qualify for home mortgages due to lack of down payment and/or poor credit history. CDBG funds will finance 100 % of all project costs. Ms. Coley noted that Alexander County would apply on behalf of the Unifour Consortium made up of local governments in the counties of Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba.
Ms. Coley informed the Board that Alexander County would be required to provide $1,000 for each of the 30 potential homebuyers totaling $30,000 to be reimbursed to the county by the State. Ms. Coley also noted that there would also be some administration costs as well.
There being no public comment, Commissioner Watts made a motion to close the public hearing. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Robertson made a motion to submit the $50,000 Individual Development Account CDBG application. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
RESOLUTION REQUESTING RELEASE OF STATE FUNDS FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
Chairman Odom presented the Resolution Requesting Release of State Funds for Economic Development Technical Assistance and explained that the General Assembly sets aside State Funds each year for use by the Western Piedmont Council of Governments and each of the other 17 regional councils in NC in providing economic/community development technical assistance. Under the legislation, each local government must adopt a resolution requesting their portion of the funds ($55,000) be released to the WPCOG or those funds will revert to the State.
Commissioner Watts made a motion to adopt the Resolution Requesting the Release of State Funds for Economic Development Technical Assistance. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
BOARD APPOINTMENTS / REAPPOINTMENTS
Chairman Odom presented the following appointments:
Appoint Nancy Coley 1 year term
Appoint Vernon Starnes No specific term
Appoint David Land
Appoint Frank Greer
Appoint Rev. Darren Lambert
Appoint Patsy Elliot
Appoint Lynn Marshall
Appoint Dennis Rogers
Appoint Dewey Austin
Appoint Glynn Gwaltney
Appoint Ralph West
Appoint Hal Hefner
Appoint Steve Icenhour
Appoint Harold Mitchell
Appoint Sylvia Turnmire No specific term
Appoint Patti Foster
Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to approve the appointments as presented. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
ADOPTION OF ALEXANDER COUNTYS 2002 HOLIDAY SCHEDULE
Chairman Odom presented the 2002 Holiday Schedule as follows:
Mr. French stated that the schedule presented was the State schedule but noted that the Alexander County Personnel Policy stated that Alexander County observes 11 holidays and would not be observing December 26, 2002.
Commissioner Watts made a motion to strike December 26, 2002 and approve the holiday schedule as otherwise presented. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
ADOPTION OF ANNUAL 2002 COUNTY RETREAT
Discussion was held regarding the Annual 2002 County Retreat. Commissioner Watts noted that the retreat would be held at the Hidden Crystal Inn in Hiddenite, NC.
Commissioner Watts made a motion to adopt that date of February 1-2, 2002 for the Annual 2002 County Retreat to be held at the Hidden Crystal Inn in Hiddenite, NC. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Mr. French discussed several items during Other Business which included the following information:
Mr. French noted that Consent Agenda Item D should also include the Health Department Performance Pay Policy.
Commissioner Watts made a motion to approve the Consent Agenda as amended. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
CLOSED SESSION N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5)(6) CONTRACTUAL / PERSONNEL
Commissioner Watts made a motion to enter into Closed Session at 9:05 PM to discuss contractual and personnel issues pursuant to N.C.G.S. 143-318(a)(5)(6). Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
There being no further business, Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to adjourn at 9:30 PM. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
David S. Odom, Chairman Jamie C. Millsaps, Clerk to the Board