December 4, 2001

PRESENT: David S. Odom, Chairman
Joel C. Harbinson, Vice-Chairman
William L. Hammer
W. Darrell Robertson
John F. Watts
STAFF: Rick French, County Manager
Jamie Millsaps, Clerk to the Board
David Icenhour, Public Information Director
MEDIA: Gary Herman, The Taylorsville Times
Norris Keever, WACB Radio


The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held its regular meeting on Tuesday, December 4, 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:

    1. Chairman Odom discussed the Water Task Force Meeting held on Monday, December 3, 2001. Chairman Odom stated that all members were present and that the 2000 Water and Feasibility Study and the History of Water report were distributed for the members to review. Chairman Odom stated that he was thankful for Commissioner Hammer’s expertise on the Highway 16 South Water District. Chairman Odom stated that he looked forward to working with the Water Task Force.
    2. Commissioner Hammer stated that he also looked forward to working with the Water Task Force and felt that some new ideas were needed get grants and other funding for water lines. Commissioner Hammer noted that grant money was running out and that it would take years to get water lines throughout the entire county.

    3. Commissioner Harbinson stated that Rick French, County Manager, and Commissioner John Watts had put together a tentative schedule for the 2002 Annual County Retreat to be held on February 1-2, 2001 at the Hidden Crystal Inn. Commissioner Harbinson distributed a draft schedule and asked that the Board review so that revisions could be made.
    4. Chairman Odom stated that he had written a letter to Brent Fox, Board of Education Chairman, requesting permission to post the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Magna Carta, the Mecklenburg Declaration, and the Ten Commandments in all public schools in Alexander County as outlined in North Carolina House Bill 195.

Commissioner Harbinson stated that he had purchased the historical documents and had them placed in the hallway of the Courthouse, but that someone had stolen the brass eagle off of the plaque commemorating the display of historical documents. Commissioner Harbinson felt that it was ironic that someone would steal the eagle since one of the Ten Commandments states "Thou shall not steal."


Chairman Odom called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.


Reverend Mike Runion, Pastor of Three Forks Baptist Church, gave the invocation and Jacob Frye, student at Wittenburg Elementary School, led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.


Commissioner Hammer presented the Citizen of the Month Award to Conrad Fox. Mr. Fox was born on May 9, 1930 to Charlie and Margie Fox and was married to Jelene Frye on October 25, 1947. They have 3 children including Tony Fox, Chandra Daniels, and Vilas Reese, and 5 grandchildren including Darrell Fox, Shelly Fox, Matthew Reese, Marissa Reese, and Mikayla Reese. Mr. Fox worked with the children’s softball league and served as President of the PTA for Wittenburg Elementary School. He worked with Hickory Chair for more than 20 years and sold Gold Seal storm doors and windows. In April 1961, Mr. Fox purchased Fox’s Grocery, now known as Highway 16 Superette and is still owner. In 1965, he was instrumental in the organization of the Wittenburg Volunteer Fire Department and was active in the purchase of the new pumper. Mr. Fox served on the original committee for the Highway 16 South Water District and worked diligently to help recruit and sign up potential users of the water system. He is a member of Macedonia Baptist Church and the owner of Fox’s Auto Sales and Parts.


Chairman David Odom stated that he had enjoyed serving as Chairman for the last year and felt that the Board had accomplished much. Chairman Odom stated that he wished to thank his fellow board members for their help, service, and guidance. Chairman Odom presented each Board member with a 2001 Chamber of Commerce Christmas Ornament which was a 1939 Chevrolet Fire Truck used by the Taylorsville Volunteer Fire Department.

Chairman Odom thanked Commissioner Darrell Robertson for his engineering and mathematical expertise and stated that he had helped with many projects including the landfill and the animal shelter. Chairman Odom also commended Commissioner Robertson for his willingness to serve on countless boards and committees and his ability to stand up for what he felt was right.

Chairman Odom thanked Commissioner John Watts for his help and expertise in health care, education, and his work with the Board of Education. Chairman Odom also stated that Commissioner Watts had a helpful medical background as a pharmacist and thanked him for his hard work with the hospital.

Chairman Odom thanked Commissioner Joel Harbinson for his help with economic development and the prison and for his willingness to take a stand for Alexander County. Chairman Odom also stated that Commissioner Harbinson contributed to the pursuit of the placing of historical documents with his legal expertise.

Chairman Odom thanked Commissioner William Hammer for his experience with Highway 16 South and his input on the water situation. Chairman Odom stated that Commissioner Hammer had a compassionate heart for farmers and that he appreciated Commissioner Hammer’s hard work while on the Board.

Chairman Odom also presented the Chamber ornament to Rick French, County Manager. Chairman Odom stated that Mr. French was the "axle of the car" and that Mr. French always gave them the best advice to move them towards a positive solution. Chairman Odom noted that Mr. French could always turn something negative into something positive and felt that he was the best thing to happen to Alexander County Government. Chairman Odom also mentioned that Mr. French always gives 110% and is relied upon heavily by the Board and staff.

Chairman Odom also presented the White House Historical Association Ornament to Jamie Millsaps, Clerk to the Board. Chairman Odom stated that important information came to Ms. Millsaps through phone calls and letters and that she accurately relays the information to the Board members effectively. Chairman Odom felt that the quality of Ms. Millsaps’ work and her dedication to her job were shown through the accurate minutes she takes.

All Board members and staff thanked Chairman Odom for his comments and dedication to Alexander County.

Chairman Odom also read a story entitled "Giving and Receiving" from Billy Davis.


Chairman Odom made some amendments to the agenda including moving Agenda Item #5 to #3 and moving Agenda Item #6 to #4. Chairman also asked to add to Agenda Item #9 an appointment to the Western NC Political Caucus and discussion of the air van funding consideration under Other Business.

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


Chairman Odom called for any nominations for Chairman.

Commissioner Watts stated that the position of Chairman was that of a spokesperson for 33,601 people in Alexander County and an anchor to provide solid direction. Commissioner Watts nominated Commissioner Harbinson to serve as Chairman for 4 months. The Board plans to elect another chairman after the 4 month period.

There being no further nominations, Commissioner Watts made a motion to close nominations and approve the election of Commissioner Harbinson as Chairman. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.


Chairman Harbinson nominated William Hammer to serve as Vice-Chairman. Chairman Harbinson stated that political differences diminish as time goes by and felt that the Board should work together for the good of the county and that having a Board with bi-partisan leadership would be a welcomed symbol of unity. Chairman Harbinson therefore suggested electing a Republican Vice-Chairman on a Democrat majority Board.

Chairman Harbinson mentioned that the Caldwell County Board of Commissioners had also elected a Democrat Vice-Chairman on their Republican majority Board.

Commissioner Robertson stated that each Board member had always done what they felt was best for the county and all members of the Board had agreed more often than disagreed. Commissioner Robertson felt that it was evident that the Board worked well together.

There being no further nominations, Chairman Harbinson made a motion to close nominations and approve the election of Commissioner Hammer as Vice-Chairman. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.


Chairman Harbinson stated that that a letter had been sent by the Board to the State back in December 1998 asking them to convey the property located behind the new Juvenile Detention Center on Highway 16 South to Alexander County. Word has been received from the State Property Office that the State will convey 23.325 acres of the property to the county. Chairman Harbinson noted that the Council of State had worked with the Board to get the property. The Council of State voted unanimously to approve the conveyance of the property to the county. The county is waiting for the deed to be signed by the Governor. Chairman Harbinson noted that the property would be limited to government purposes and stated that realtors and appraised the property at about $50,000 per acre or a total of $1.16 million.


Ben Hines, Register of Deeds, reported that the State had made some changes to the Office of Registers of Deeds that would affect the recording and fee schedules for both land record recording and vital record fees. Mr. Hines noted that 10% of the fees collected pursuant to G.S.161-10 and retained by the county would be set aside annually and placed in a Automation Enhancement and Preservation Fund to be spent on computer and imaging technology in the Register of Deeds Offices.

Mr. Hines also noted that funds would accumulate in the Automation Enhancement fund and be used via the county Purchase Order Requisition system as any other line item.

Mr. Hines discussed the fee changes that would become effective on January 1, 2002. A marriage license will increase from $40 to $50, a notary oath will increase from $5 to $10, and a certified copy of a birth or death certificate will increase from $3 to $10 just to name a few.

Commissioner Robertson felt that the State should straighten out its own fiscal matters before regulating how the counties spend their money. Commissioner Robertson stated that he intended to write a letter to State legislators informing them that this action is not appreciated.

Commissioner Odom made a motion to authorize Commissioner Robertson to write a letter to the State on behalf of the Board. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.


Patti Foster, Transportation Director, presented a resolution to apply for the FY 2003 Community Transportation Program Grant to enhance the provision of rural human service and general public transportation in North Carolina. Ms. Foster noted that Part I of the application was to provide administrative and employee development funding, which includes reimbursement for 80% federal share, 5% state share, and a local match of 15%. Part II of the application is to provide Capital, Facility, and Technology funding, which includes 90% state share and a 10% local match. Ms. Foster stated that the amount of funding applied for Part I Administrative and Employee Development was $61,212 which requires a local match of $9,181.80. The estimated amount of funding that will be applied for Part II Capital, Facility, and Technology will be $92,390 which requires a local match of $9,239.

Commissioner Watts asked how the totals compared to last year. Ms. Foster replied that there were some services that had increased.

Commissioner Odom asked if the local match was already budgeted or if a budget amendment would be required. Mr. French replied that the match was already budgeted.

Commissioner Robertson made a motion to approve the resolution to apply for the FY 2003 Community Transportation Program Grant for a total of $153,602 with a requirement of a local match of $18,420.80. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

ROAP Funds

Ms. Foster also stated that Alexander County had applied for FY 2002 ROAP fund in the amount of $58,505 which included $38,524 for EDTAP funds, $5,436 for Work First funds, and $14,545 for RGP funds. On September 28, 2001, Alexander County received $31,598 in EDTAP funds, with Work First and RGP funds to be disbursed following the budget approval by the General Assembly. On November 27, 2001, Alexander County received the remaining EDTAP funds applied for plus an additional $3,241 for a total of $41,765. Work First funds applied for were received totaling $5,436. RGP funds applied for plus and additional $10,071 were received totaling $24,616. Ms. Foster stated that the RGP funds required a 10% local match which would bring the county’s total local match to $2,461.60 which is an additional $1,007.10 that what was originally applied for.


Nancy Coley, WPCOG Community Development Administrator, conducted the public hearing to receive public input for the development of Community Development Block Grant Applications for 2002. Ms. Coley stated that the State of NC would receive approximately $45 million in CDBG funds for 2002 and that local governments could apply for these funds for various activities that benefit low to moderate income persons including the following:

    1. Concentrated needs applications are accepted on a 2-year cycle and if local governments apply, they must choose a project area with severe needs of multiple elements such as water and housing; sewer and housing; or housing, streets, and drainage.
    2. Infrastructure grant applications are accepted on a yearly basis and can be used to provide water or sewer to low to moderate income areas with a severe need. Ms. Coley stated that the maximum grant request was $850,000 and noted that a new program was available to assist local governments in providing funding for taps and connections for low and moderate income persons with a maximum grant amount of $75,000.
    3. Scattered site housing rehabilitation grants in the amount of $400,000 are awarded once every three years. These grants fund the rehabilitation or replacement of severe housing units. Alexander County is scheduled to receive funds in 2002.
    4. CDBG funds can also be used for economic development. These applications are submitted to the Commerce Finance Center, Department of Commerce, and can be submitted at any time. Economic Development funds can be used to install infrastructure or provide a direct loan to an industry that creates jobs for low and moderate income persons.
    5. Other CDBG grant categories are Housing Development, Urgent Needs, and Revitalization Strategies. Local governments may not receive more than a total of $1,250,000 in combined awards from the Community Revitalization, Economic Development, Housing Development, Revitalization Strategies, and Contingency for 2002.

Commissioner Robertson asked what would be considered as urgent need. Ms. Coley responded catastrophic events would be considered as urgent need. Commissioner Robertson asked if drought would be considered as urgent need. Commissioner Odom suggested that Ms. Coley and Mr. French draft a letter to the State to inquire about allowing drought as an urgent need.

Ms. Coley notified the Board that she would be attending the Grants Conference in Fletcher, NC on Wednesday, December 5, 2001 and would gather information on grants.


Rick French, County Manager, provided the following information for the Audit Report Update:

    1. There was an unqualified or clean opinion.
    2. There were two internal control weaknesses disclosed which included a tax collections weakness and the failure of timely bank reconciliation.
    3. The errors noted in April were corrected when the final fieldwork was commenced in August.
    4. The Unreserved Fund Balance at 6/30/2001 was $7,979,060 which may be a record high for the county.
    5. The increase to Fund Balance in the current year was $5,001,081 primarily resulting from $5,000,000 of unspent debt proceeds.
    6. Unreserved Fund Balance represents 31% of general fund expenditures, which also may be a record high for the county.
    7. General Fund revenue were $24,002,660 made up of $8,988,823 in property taxes; $4,556,135 in sales tax distributions, $404,360 in permits and fees; $6,802,136 in federal and state grants; with the remainder from other sources.
    8. General Fund expenditures were $25,631,149 made up of $9,780,241 (38%) to Board of Education; $7,594,148 (30%) in Human Services; $3,986,610 in Public Safety; $2,534,397 in general government; with the remainder in debt service and other services.
    9. Landfill revenues were $1,943,432 and the landfill net loss was $500,822. Noncash expenses in landfill fund were postclosure adjustment and depreciation of $391,000.
    10. Net cash used by operations $78,640. Operations of the fund should provide cash instead of using cash. Operations is the source of cash for debt service and capital expenditures.

Mr. French noted that the audit committee consisting of Mr. French, Commissioner Robertson, and Commissioner Watts met on November 29, 2001 to discuss the abovementioned information. Mr. French felt the audit was very positive and that the county was taking the right steps to get the Fund Balance where it needed to be.

Commissioner Robertson emphasized that tax collections weakness identified had been corrected before the annual audit and that the other was being looked at to determine the best solution for the problem.

Mr. French thanked Kim Stine, Toni Miller, and Pat Kearney in the Finance Office as well as Judy Feimster and Jamie Millsaps for their help and hard work.

Chairman Harbinson thanked Mr. French, Commissioner Robertson, and Commissioner Watts for their willingness to serve on the audit committee.


Commissioner Watts reported that an auction was held at Alexander Community Hospital on November 27, 2001. An investor group led by Charles Trefzger purchased the hospital property for $1.916 million, subject to approval by the Federal Bankruptcy Court in Wilkesboro. Commissioner Watts noted that the investor group intends to lease a portion of the building to a local hospital and lease the other portion to other agencies. The initial goal is to have an emergency room open 24/7 in early 2002.


Chairman Harbinson presented the following appointments:

ALS Program Medical Director

Chairman Harbinson suggested appointing Dr. Trevor Craig who has been the ALS Medical Director for 10 years.

Local Emergency Planning Committee

Chairman Harbinson suggested appointing Gary Herman, The Taylorsville Times, as Media Representative to replace David Icenhour who was hired as the Public Information/Human Resources Director for Alexander County. Chairman Harbinson also suggested appointing Lynn Marshall, NCDOT, to replace Jamie Robinson who was promoted to a supervisor position in Iredell County.

Western NC Political Caucus

Chairman Harbinson stated that Western NC Political Caucus would monitor actions taken by the State regarding Federal monies. Chairman Harbinson suggested that, as Chairman, that he be the Alexander County representative.

Commissioner Watts made a motion to approve the appointments as suggested. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.


Rick French, County Manager, presented the following meeting schedule for 2002.

January 8, 2002
February 12, 2002
March 5, 2002
April 2, 2002
May 7, 2002
June 4, 2002
July 9, 2002
August 6, 2002
September 10, 2002
October 1, 2002
November 12, 2002
December 3, 2002

Commissioner Robertson made a motion to approve the meeting schedule as presented. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.


Commissioner Odom distributed the minutes from May 18, 1999 during which he discussed purchasing flag holder monuments for deceased veterans from 1900 to 2000. Commissioner Odom stated that he would like to move forward with investigating the number of deceased veterans in order to provide the proper flag holder monuments for them. Commissioner Odom stated that the monuments would have a threaded rod in the ground to place flags or flowers in and that they would range from $13-$15 each. It was also noted that the county would receive a lower price if the flag holder monuments were purchased in large quantities. Different monuments can be purchased for each war.

Commissioner Odom requested the help of the local DAV, VFW, and American Legion Chapters as well as the Alexander County Veterans Service to investigate the number of deceased veterans so that the county can begin purchasing the monuments.

Roy Gragg, Commander of DAV Chapter 84, stated that churches could possibly have a list of veterans that are buried in the graveyard. If so, the preacher could read the list aloud during services to make sure all veterans buried there are accounted for and none are left out. Mr. Gragg also stated that the county would need permission from the churches before the monuments could be placed in the graveyards.

Dale Chapman, VFW, recommended that the monuments be permanent so that they could not be stolen or damaged when the graveyards are mowed. Mr. Chapman suggested that the monuments be attached to the stones if possible and stated that the churches could appoint someone to put out the flags at the assigned times and take them back up after a few weeks.

Commissioner Robertson felt that the monuments should be purchased for deceased veterans that served even before 1900 and suggested purchasing monuments dating back to the Revolutionary War.

Gilbert Lackey, Commander of VFW Post 10,000, stated that the Board should decide on a uniform position for the monuments as well so that they would all look the same.

Commissioner Watts asked how the monuments would be placed if the deceased veteran served in more than one war. The Board agreed that only one monument should be placed on the stones. Commissioner Robertson suggested allowing the deceased veteran’s family to decide which war monument would be placed on the stone. Commissioner Odom mentioned that a standard monument could be purchased to represent all wars. Several Board members suggested purchasing the standard monument for all deceased veterans.

Commissioner Robertson suggested contacting the Ancestry Association as well.

Commissioner Harbinson suggested that Commissioner Odom and Commissioner Robertson head up this issue.

Commissioner Odom made a motion to purchase 3 sets of monuments, one for the DAV, VFW, and American Legion Chapters to display at their meetings to get feedback from the veterans. Commissioner Odom also asked each chapter to contact all churches in the county to get a total of deceased veterans. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.


The following items were discussed during Other Business:

    1. Commissioner Odom stated that The Firemen’s Association had made a deposit of $7,500 on a 1985 mobile air unit from Myrtle Beach. Commissioner Odom stated the mobile air unit would be used for Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) for all public safety agencies including fire, EMS, Rescue, Police, Sheriff, and Emergency Management, and the Rescue Squad. Commissioner Odom stated that the mobile air unit would cost approximately $60,000 and would replace the 1960s mobile bread truck.
    2. Commissioner Robertson asked if all fire departments had agreed to the purchase of the mobile air unit. Commissioner Odom replied that all fire departments and the Rescue Squad had agreed.

      Commissioner Watts asked what the cost of a new mobile air unit would be. Commissioner Odom replied that a new, fully loaded air truck would cost approximately $280,000. Commissioner Watts asked if any grant applications had been pursued for this unit. Commissioner Odom stated that several grants had been applied for but had not been funded.

      Commissioner Odom made a motion to move forward with the purchase of the 1985 mobile air unit for $60,000 to be taken from General Fund. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

    3. Rick French, County Manager, stated that the Board would need to schedule a work session for December. After discussion, the Board agreed to meet on December 18, 2001 at 6:00 PM in the Agriculture Extension Learning Center.
    4. Mr. French noted that the Employees Appreciation Luncheon would be held on Friday, December 7, 2001 from 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM at the Senior Center. The program will begin around 12:00 Noon with a special visit from Santa.


  1. Tax Refund Requests for November $1,455.89 and Tax Release Requests for November $2,145.45.
  2. Minutes from November 13, 2001 Regular Commissioners’ Meeting.
  3. CDBG Project Number 01-C-0814 (Infrastructure Hook-Up Demonstration Project)

Commissioner Odom noted that the minutes for November 13, 2001 should be changed to reflect the absence of Commissioner Hammer and that the SCBA was for all emergency departments not just the fire departments.

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


Commissioner Watts made a motion to enter into Closed Session at 9:05 PM to discuss contractual matters pursuant to N.C.G.S. 143-318(a)(5). Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.


There being no further business, Commissioner Hammer made a motion to adjourn at 9:25 PM. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.



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