March 6, 2001
The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held their regular meeting on Tuesday, March 6, 2001 in the Commissioners Room in the Alexander County Courthouse, Taylorsville, North Carolina.
Safe Kids Coalition
Russell Greene, Fire Marshal, gave a report on the Safe Kids Coalition. Mr. Greene stated that unintentional injury is the leading cause of death and disability among children in North Carolina. The Safe Kids Coalition was established to educate children of the dangers of unintentional injury and how to prevent it.
In December, Mr. Greene met with Tony Jones-Chief of Police, Nolan Jarvis-EMS Director, Iva Leviner-Ellendale Elementary School Principal, Carrie Richards-Health Department, Keith Hertzler-Chamber of Commerce Director, and Paula Brawley-Partnership for Children, to weigh out pros and cons of the Safe Kids Coalition program and determine if Alexander County would benefit from the program. The group met again in January with full support of the Safe Kids Coalition. The contract was signed at a later date.
Mr. Greene informed the Board that establishing the Safe Kids Coalition Program has made Alexander County eligible for grants and equipment such as child safety seats. Mr. Greene stated that the Safe Kids Coalition will be a great benefit to Alexander County and its children.
The Board conveyed their appreciation to Mr. Greene for the effort made to establish the Safe Kids Coalition in Alexander County.
Commissioner Robertson stated that Charter Communications had recently sent out a revised construction schedule and that it was very complicated to follow. Commissioner Robertson stated that he would like for Charter Communications to reword the construction schedule so that it may be easier to understand.
Commissioner Watts stated that Alexander County had an agreement with Charter Communications to provide cable to all schools in the county including the new Wittenburg and Ellendale Elementary Schools. Charter recently informed County staff that lines had been run to Ellendale and East Junior High School.
Commissioner Watts asked Lonnie Carrigan, WACB Broadcaster, if he had any new information about the cable channel. Mr. Carrigan informed Commissioner Watts that there was a misunderstanding between WACB and Charter Communications early on regarding equipment that was necessary for the connection to be made. The problem is currently being resolved but there is no finalized date as to when service will be provided.
Chairman Odom stated that County staff had recently sent letters to the N.C. Department of Transportation requesting traffic studies for Highway 127 at Bethlehem Elementary School and the intersection at Rink Dam Road and Church Road near Wittenburg Elementary School. It was requested that traffic lights be placed at both locations. The N.C. Department of Transportation sent response letters back stating that a traffic light was not justified for either location and suggesting putting an officer on duty during before and after school hours when traffic is heaviest.
House District Resolution
In October 2000, the Board passed a resolution requesting that the N.C. General Assembly place all of Alexander County into one State House district when the Legislature is re-districted in 2001. In February 2001, letters were sent to every county in North Carolina requesting that each Board of County Commissioners pass a resolution requesting the same for their county. Letters were also sent to local representatives requesting their support in the matter. Chairman Odom stated that response letters were received from Representatives Edgar V. Starnes and Kenneth R. Moore stating that they would support the resolution.
CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Watts called the regular meeting to order at 7:00 PM.
Commissioner Robertson gave the invocation. Katie Franklin, a 6th grade student at Sugarloaf Elementary School, led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
CITIZEN OF THE MONTH
Commissioner Hammer presented the Citizen of the Month award to Harry Robertson. Mr. Robertson is married to Mary Meadows Robertson and has one daughter, Jill, and one granddaughter, Cara. Mr. Robertson is graduate of Stony Point High School and a Korean War Veteran. Commissioner Hammer noted some of Mr. Robertsons accomplishments including Ruritan Citizen of the Year (1995), former Brushy Mountain Shrine Club President and Treasurer, member of the Oasis Temple, founder and co-owner of Robertsons Mobile Homes, and Alexander County Commissioner (1978-1982). Mr. Robertson served on the Blue Ribbon Committee, the Solid Waste Task Force, and served as one of three Deputy Assistants to the Secretary of the N.C. Department of Transportation. Mr. Robertson is largely responsible for the construction of U.S. 64/90. Mr. Robertson was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award by Governor Jim Martin, the most prestigious award given by the N.C. Governor.
The Board conveyed their appreciation and respect for Mr. Robertson for his service to the citizens of Alexander County.
Chairman Odom gave the Chairmans Report which included:
Chairman Odom also presented an annual report which consisted of the 1999-2000 Board of Commissioners Accomplishments and Activities Report as a follow-up to the 2001 Planning Retreat. The annual report will be sent to the local press and media and posted on the Alexander County Government web page so citizens may view the list.
Commissioner Harbinson stated that he was proud that the items listed in the 1999-2000 Accomplishments and Activities Report were bi-partisan and that 85% of the items were voted upon unanimously.
Chairman Odom stated that he would like to give a special thanks to Bradley Earp and Dale Killian, Alexander County EMS Paramedics. Chairman Odom explained that there was an accident near Rocky Face in which the driver of the vehicle involved was pinned in the vehicle. Mr. Earp and Mr. Killian showed a great measure of professionalism during a dangerous situation. Chairman Odom stated that he was very impressed and thanked them for their job well done.
Nolan Jarvis, EMS Director, stated that Mr. Earp and Mr. Killian were unable to attend the meeting and conveyed his thanks on their behalf. Chairman Odom presented 2 Alexander County pins to Mr. Jarvis and asked that he give the pins to Mr. Earp and Mr. Killian.
ADOPTION OF AGENDA
Commissioner Robertson added appointments to Local Emergency Planning Committee as Agenda Item 6A. Commissioner Harbinson added Courthouse Task Force Appointments under Other Business as Agenda Item 10A.
Commissioner Watts made a motion to approve the agenda as amended. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
PUBLIC HEARING: FINANCING OF THE NEW ELLENDALE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Rick French, County Manager, conducted the public hearing to consider the financing of $5.8 million for the new Ellendale Elementary School. This was the second public hearing and was required by First Union. The financing will be with First Union at 4.97% for 20 years. The Local Government Commission (LGC) has approved the loan for this project and all legal requirements have been satisfied. Mr. French stated that the Alexander County Board of Education has a public hearing scheduled for March 13, 2001 also for approval of the financing of the new Ellendale Elementary School. Mr. French informed the Board that a resolution was required to be passed for approval of the financing.
Jimmy Lowe was in attendance at the meeting representing the Alexander County Board of Education.
There being no public comment, Commissioner Robertson made a motion to close the public hearing. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Watts made a motion to pass the resolution approving the financing of $5.8 million at 4.97% for 20 years with First Union for the new Ellendale Elementary School. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
PUBLIC HEARING: APPROVAL OF ROAD NAMES
Lisa Harrington, 911 Addressing Coordinator, conducted the public hearing for the approval of the following road names:
Ms. Harrington stated that all road names had been checked for duplication and sound indexing and no calls had been received regarding the road names.
There being no 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 Watts made a motion to approve the road names. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
PROPOSED RESPONSE GUIDELINES FOR TERRORISM PLAN FOR ALEXANDER COUNTY
Terry Foxx, Emergency Management Director, presented the proposed Response Guidelines for Acts of Terrorism Plan for Alexander County. The Terrorism Plan was reviewed at the 2001 Planning Retreat. Mr. Foxx stated that the Terrorism Plan had been reviewed by Fire, EMS, Rescue, Law Enforcement, Health Department, Hospital, and the Town of Taylorsville Public Works and Police Department. Mr. Foxx stated that changes had been made and that the Terrorism Plan was ready for implementation and would be an appendix to the Emergency Operations Plan. Mr. Foxx informed the Board that Alexander County would be able to apply for grant money to further training and equipment needs for terrorism response if the Terrorism Plan is approved.
Commissioner Hammer inquired about training for terrorism and also stated that it should be stated in the Terrorism Plan that in the case of a terrorism attack, the SBI or FBI would be in charge of operations and not local staff. Mr. Foxx responded that that was included in the Terrorism Plan. Commissioner Hammer also stated that he felt the Chief of Police should be included in the Statement of Approval signature page for the Terrorism Plan. Mr. Foxx stated that he would make the necessary corrections and include the Chief of Police in the Statement of Approval signature page.
Commissioner Robertson stated concerns regarding the title of the Terrorism Plan (Response Guidelines to Acts of Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction). Commissioner Robertson stated that he felt the word "mass" suggested large and extremely destructive weapons and felt that it was not needed. Mr. Foxx stated that the word "mass" was used to cover all weapons including those of little threat and those of mass destruction. Commissioner Robertson also stated that it would be the Board of Commissioners Chairmans role to call a state of emergency.
Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to approve the Response Guidelines for Acts of Terrorism Plan with addition of Chief of Police to the Statement of Approval signature page. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
URGENT REPAIR PROGRAM UPDATE (URP2000)
Nancy Coley, Community Development Administrator with WPCOG, reported that the Urgent Repair Program application had been approved by the Housing Finance Agency to receive an amount not to exceed $75,000. Approximately $3,500 would be provided for each unit that posed a life or safety threatening environment and that each unit would be ranked according to the severity of need. Ms. Coley stated that program guidelines would be available at the administrators implementation workshop that is scheduled for March 14, 2001 at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh. More information will be available after the workshop is held.
REPORT ON CATAWBA RIVER RIPARIAN BUFFERS
Sylvia Turnmire, Director of Planning & Development, gave a report on the Catawba River Riparian Buffers by first explaining the purpose of a buffer. The purpose of the riparian buffers is to filter sediment and other pollutants from flowing into a body of water to protect drinking water. Ms. Turnmire explained that the N.C. Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (NCDENR) appointed a Catawba River Stakeholders Committee in September 2000 to develop buffer rules for the Catawba River and was divided into the Upper Basin and Lower Basin. Alexander County is in the Upper Basin.
After the Committee met a consensus, the Division of Water Quality (DWQ) drafted temporary rules and submitted them to the Environmental Management Commission (EMC). The fundamentals of the rule are as follows:
The EMC has set 2 public hearings. The public hearing for the Upper Basin is scheduled for March 22, 2001 at 6:00 PM in the Old Rock School in Valdese, N.C. The public hearing for the Lower Basin is scheduled for March 20, 2001.
Ms. Turnmire informed the Board that letters and announcements were sent to affected Alexander County landowners. There were approximately 890 affected landowners within 50 feet of the Catawba River including Lake Hickory and Lookout Shoals. The permanent rule as requested by the EMC will be effective in 2002.
Commissioner Robertson stated that he would like to know how the Catawba River Stakeholders Committee came up with a width of 50 feet. Ms. Turnmire stated that widths ranging from 25 feet to 75 feet were discussed. Commissioner Robertson stated that he felt that the Catawba River was being compared to the Neuse River. Since the 2 rivers have nothing in common, Commissioner Robertson felt that the buffer ordinance may be unfair to Catawba River landowners.
Ms. Turnmire also informed the Board that the Ordinance will be enforced by the State once it is adopted meaning that buffers will be mandatory.
Commissioner Hammer stated that he would be attending the public hearing for the Upper Basin on March 22, 2001. Mr. Hammer also inquired about the zoning request made by James Belcher in January 2001. Ms. Turnmire responded that the zoning request was still under review and would be brought back before the Board, when new designations are made, probably in April.
PLANNING & ZONING COMMISSION APPOINTMENT
Planning & Zoning Commission Appointment
Sylvia Turnmire, Planning & Zoning Commission, stated that at the last Commissioners Meeting, Bill Randlett was recommended to serve on the Planning & Zoning Commission. Due to his schedule, Mr. Randlett is not able to serve. Don Harrington was recommended at a later date, but could not serve also due to his schedule. Ms. Turnmire recommended Gene Foy to serve on the Planning & Zoning Commission.
Commissioner Robertson made a motion to approve Gene Foy to serve on the Planning & Zoning Commission. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) Appointment
The following appointments were made to the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC):
Commissioner Watts made a motion to approve the appointments to the LEPC. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
LEGISLATIVE CAUCUS UPDATE & COMMUNITY COLLEGE UPDATE
Legislative Caucus Update
Commissioner Watts stated that he and Rick French, County Manager, attended the Western North Carolina Legislative Delegation Meeting on February 28, 2001 in Raleigh. Several issues were discussed including information regarding effective communication and coordination, building a regional consensus, list server development, enabling legislation for alternative local revenues, and general discussion. A Western North Carolina Report was given which included discussion of Western North Carolina representation, grant report, and federal earmarking.
Commissioner Watts felt that Alexander County strives for commonality and was in need of more attention from the State and stated that he wanted to promote this region.
Commissioner Harbinson conveyed his appreciation to Commissioner Watts and Mr. French for their attendance to the Western North Carolina Legislative Delegation Meeting.
Community College Update
Commissioner Watts stated that the concern for community college service began with the State bond monies that were to be issued to counties for restoration and renovation. Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) was to receive just under $10 million. Alexander County was scheduled to receive nothing. The Board of Commissioners felt that Alexander County should receive its fair share of the bond monies to provide a better facility and better community college service for its citizens. There was also the issue of representation on the CVCC Board of Trustees. Alexander County has never had a position on the Board of Trustees and the Board of Commissioners felt adequate representation was deserved. The Board also wished for CVCC, the Board of Education, and Alexander County Government to work together as a team to plan for programs for high school and post high school citizens.
Several communications have taken place over the last several months. In September, the Board voted to contact other community colleges to negotiate bond monies for community college service for Alexander County and also Board of Trustees representation and to determine the best choice for Alexander County. At the 2001 Planning Retreat, presentations were given by Dr. Cuyler Dunbar, President of CVCC, and Dr. Kenneth Boham, President of Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute (CCC & TI).
CVCC has committed $1 million to Alexander County for renovation of the building recently purchased from Grier Lackey for the community college. Also, a seat has been approved on the CVCC Board of Trustees for Alexander County, with second seat to be approved at the next CVCC Board of Trustees Meeting. Based on these commitments in writing to Alexander County, Commissioner Watts recommended that the Board accept CVCCs continued service and permit them to select an architect for the new building.
Each member of the Board conveyed their appreciation to both CVCC and CCC & TI. Commissioner Harbinson stated that he would like for CVCC to work with the Alexander County Board of Education to discuss programs needed. Commissioner Harbinson, as well as the entire Board, thanked Grier Lackey for his cooperation in the purchase of the building and for the great offer he provided of $100,000 less than appraisal.
Ray Lane stated that $1 million will be appropriated to Alexander County for renovation of the building and stated that approximately $600,000 will be distributed at first. The State will approve the funding on March 15, 2001. Mr. Lane stated that Alexander County would still get the total amount of $1 million even if the renovations cost less. The remaining funds could be used for future renovations to the building.
Dr. Cuyler Dunbar informed the Board that the CVCC Board of Trustees had approved one seat on the Board for a representative from Alexander County and that a second seat had been approved in writing and would be ratified at the next CVCC Board of Trustees meeting. Dr. Dunbar stated that Alexander County could choose two representative nominees and both could be given oaths of office at the next CVCC Board of Trustees meeting to be held in May 2001. The representatives will serve 4-year terms. Dr. Dunbar also stated that the Property Committee will be meeting on Tuesday, March 13, 2001. Alexander County is invited to send their representative nominees.
Commissioner Harbinson suggested that Commissioner Watts serve as one of the representative nominees and that the other be chosen from the Alexander County Board of Education.
Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to move forward with CVCC with their commitment of $1 million towards the renovation of the new building and 2 seats on the CVCC Board of Trustees. Included in Commissioner Harbinsons motion was to appoint Commissioner Watts as one representative to the CVCC Board of Trustees. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted 4 for the motion (Commissioners Hammer, Harbinson, Odom, and Robertson) and 1 recusal (Commissioner Watts). Motion carried.
OLD WITTENBURG SCHOOL TASK FORCE REPORT
Commissioner Watts stated that he, Commissioner Hammer, and County Manager Rick French met with Jack Hoke, Alexander County Schools Superintendent, and members of the Alexander County Board of Education to discuss the use of the old Wittenburg Elementary School.
Commissioner Watts stated that during the meeting, discussion was held regarding some county offices moving to the old Wittenburg Elementary School. The cafeteria could be used by the Recreation Department and the field would also be an asset to the department.
Commissioner Hammer stated that Wittenburg Elementary School was a sound building and had potential for the right departments. Commissioner Hammer also suggested using the building for an Appalachian State University alternate campus.
Commissioner Watts also stated that Ellendale Elementary School was discussed at the meeting. Mr. Hoke showed some interest in moving the central office to that location.
DISCUSSION OF STATE BUDGET
Rick French, County Manager, stated that the State budget shortfall is estimated at $800 million and that the State is reducing funding to counties. The State has reduced Alexander Countys reimbursement funds by $305,000 resulting in a capital outlay budget freeze. Mr. French informed the Board that $261,000 had been moved from Contingency into General Fund. Reimbursement funding for next year has not been promised and if all reimbursement funding is cut, the total could reach over $600,000 which would be a major cut in Alexander Countys funding.
Mr. French informed the Board that on February 27, 2001, Representative Rex Baker introduced a bill, HB 288, that would take money from the States Rainy Day Fund to make up for any monies taken from local governments to balance out the state budget. This bill is identical to HB 329 introduced by Senator Phil Berger.
Mr. French stated his concerns regarding the States notification of the reimbursement funding cut for FY 2001-2002 and stated that counties needed to know about a funding cut in June and not September for budget preparation purposes. Mr. French stated that precautions will have to be taken during the budget process for FY 2001-2002.
Courthouse Task Force
Commissioner Harbinson stated that he would like to appoint Commissioner Robertson as Chairman of the Courthouse Task Force.
Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to appoint Commissioner Robertson as Chairman of the Courthouse Task Force. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
City of Hickory Water
Mr. French stated that the City of Hickory mailed a letter to all Highway 16 South and Sugarloaf Water District customers informing them that water bills will be mailed on March 12, 2001. The bills will be for 2 months service. Mr. French stated that a meeting with the City of Hickory has been scheduled for March 7, 2001 to discuss the water bill accounting at the Alexander County Tax office.
Commissioner Hammer stated that he would like to establish a payment plan for those individuals who will not be able to pay the 2 month water bill.
Discussion was held about forming a Water & Sewer Committee to study the need of water and sewer in Alexander County. The Water & Sewer Committee could present a recommendation at the 2002 Planning Retreat for a solution for the lack of water and sewer. At that time, the Board could look at the cost of water, a possible public referendum, and determine a formula for people to match funding if necessary.
Commissioner Harbinson suggested holding a public referendum and allow the citizens to vote on a solution. Commissioner Harbinson also suggested that Commissioner Hammer head-up the Water & Sewer Committee and report back to the Board with information.
Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to appoint Commissioner Hammer as Chairman of the Water & Sewer Committee and allow him to head-up the committee and its purpose. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Watts made a motion to approve the Consent Agenda. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
CLOSED SESSION PERSONNEL & LEGAL
Commissioner Watts made a motion to enter into Closed Session for the purpose of discussing personnel and legal matters. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
ALEXANDER COMMUNITY HOSPITAL
Upon return to open session, Commissioner Robertson made a motion to transfer all property back to Alexander Community Hospital with a 2nd or 3rd Lien Deed of Trust on the main hospital building, a 1st Lien Deed of Trust on the lower buildings (former Family Care Building and Dr. Choongs old office), and a 2nd Lien on the old Pediatric Clinic. The Board instructed the County Attorney to prepare the necessary paperwork. Commissioner Watts 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 10:00 PM. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
David S. Odom, Chairman Jamie C. Millsaps, Clerk to the Board