September 18, 2001
The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held its regular meeting on Tuesday, September 18, 2001 in the Commissioners Room of the Alexander County Courthouse, Taylorsville, North Carolina.
There were no citizens present to speak at the Peoples Agenda. Chairman Odom read a letter from Commissioner Hammer which stated that he would be unable to attend the Commissioners Meeting due to a previously scheduled Agricultural Steering Committee Meeting in Raleigh, NC. Commissioner Hammer also urged everyone to fly the American Flag proudly and to continue to pray for the families of the victims of the attack on September 11, 2001 and for the future of America.
CALL TO ORDER
Chairman David Odom called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.
INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Rev. Bill Garrard, First United Methodist Church, gave the invocation. Before the Pledge of Allegiance took place, Commissioner Watts asked that everyone present at the meeting and those listening to the meeting on the radio pay close attention to the words of the Pledge. Immediately following Commissioner Watts comments, Ashleigh McClelland, student from Hiddenite Elementary School, led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
Commissioner Watts presented a special achievement award to the Alexander Central High School Junior Varsity Baseball Team and noted that the team was undefeated, 20-0. Each team member stood and stated their name. Coaches of the ACHS JV Baseball Team include Larry Robinson and Mark Harbinson.
Chairman Odom discussed the events of World War II and noted that the war was fought with half the technology available to us today today. Chairman Odom stated that all citizens should stand and defend their President and their country during this time. Chairman Odom felt that it would be fitting for the undefeated baseball team to raise the American Flag on the courthouse lawn to full staff as they left the meeting.
Rick French, County Manager, presented information for the Chairmans Report which included the following:
Commissioner Robertson also noted that Foothills Area Program was providing counseling to the general public and staff in need of direction, stress management, or impact realization due to the events of September 11, 2001. Commissioner Robertson stated that he would provide information regarding the counseling to David Icenhour, Public Information Director, to be published as public information.
ADOPTION OF AGENDA
Chairman Odom asked for any amendments to the agenda. Commissioner Watts asked that the Resolution Condemning Terrorists Actions be added under Other Business as Item 7A as well as discussion of changing the September 25th meeting between the Board of Commissioners and Board of Education to October 18, 2001 as Item 7B. Commissioner Robertson stated that he had a conflict on October 18th and would not be able to attend on that date. Commissioner Watts suggested October 23, 2001 if no conflicts arose. The Board agreed to vote on the date during discussion under Other Business. Commissioner Watts made a motion to adopt the agenda as amended. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
PUBLIC HEARING: ROAD NAME CHANGE
Lisa Harrington, 911 Addressing Coordinator, conducted the public hearing for approval of a road name change. Ms. Harrington presented the petition to rename Hammer Ridge Road to Outrigger Drive. The petition was submitted by Jeanette Johnson.
Ms. Harrington stated the proposed name had been checked for sound indexing and duplication.
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 renaming of Hammer Ridge Road to Outrigger Drive as requested. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
BETHLEHEM INCORPORATION TASK FORCE FUNDING REQUEST
Bob Hopper, Bethlehem Incorporation Task Force Chairman, explained that in August 2000, the Board of Commissioners appointed a 17-member task force consisting of Bethlehem citizens to study the advantages and disadvantages of Bethlehem incorporating as a municipality. After several meetings and discussion, the task force determined the boundary for the proposed Town of Bethlehem to be 6.7 square miles (4,294 acres). Mr. Hopper noted that within the proposed boundary, there are 1,338 single-family residences, 124 singlewide mobile homes, 27 multi-purpose family dwellings, 52 commercial businesses, 4 churches, 3 shopping centers, 3 manufacturers, and 1 elementary school. The estimated population is 3,236. Mr. Hopper also noted that services were prioritized by community members through the use of a survey and would include garbage collection, fire protection, zoning, and police protection.
Mr. Hopper noted that he had contacted Representatives Walker and Holmes as well as Senators Moore and Garwood and that all had responded positively, except for Holmes who had not responded.
Mr. Hopper informed the Board that a 4-page survey would be sent to 1,643 Bethlehem property owners to determine if the citizens were interested in the incorporation of Bethlehem. The survey will include a color map showing the boundary. Mr. Hopper requested approximately $1,200 for the cost of postage and envelopes for the survey. If the survey result determines an interest in incorporation of Bethlehem, a local referendum will have to be held with approval granted by the State.
Commissioner Robertson made a motion to approve the allocation of approximately $1,200 for the cost of postage and envelopes for the survey to be send to Bethlehem property owners. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioners Harbinson and Robertson were pleased that the citizens of Bethlehem were given the decision whether the incorporate Bethlehem as a municipality.
Commissioner Harbinson thanked Mr. Hopper for being an exceptional Chairman and stated that the Task Force had done an excellent job. Keith Hertzler, Chamber of Commerce and EDC Director, thanked Randy Street and Charlotte Copy Data for copying the 4-page letter and maps which saved the county approximately $2,000. Mr. Hopper, as well as the Board, thanked Jamie Millsaps, Clerk to the Board, for her work on the mailing of the survey.
DUSTY RIDGE TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE AGREEMENT/WPCOG
Sam Erwin, Environmental Development Administrator for the WPCOG, presented the Dusty Ridge Technical Assistance Agreement between Alexander County and WPCOG and reported on the grant application process. Mr. Erwin stated that he felt Dusty Ridge had great potential because of its uniqueness of being located on the lake. Opportunities for the park include ball fields, walking trails, fishing and boating. Mr. Erwin also felt that Dusty Ridge could even become a regional park.
Mr. Erwin stated that activities to be completed included site analysis, determining recreational needs, determining physical needs, collecting property acquisition and capital improvement cost estimates, developing site plans, exploring park management requirements, and completing plan implementation and recommendations. Mr. Erwin stated that the count would be responsible for a cost of $5,000 for the satisfactory performance of all services.
Commissioner Robertson asked if the $5,000 would cover overhead expenses such as printing and GIS mapping. Mr. Erwin responded the $5,000 would cover those costs.
Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to approve the Dusty Ridge Technical Assistance Agreement between Alexander County and WPCOG. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
REPORT ON SOUTHERN PINE BEETLES/LANDFILL
Russell Greene, Fire Marshal, reported on the Southern Pine Beetle infestation on a tract of property owned by the county adjacent to the landfill. Mr. Greene reported that, acting on recommendations from the County Ranger, the county had contracted with a local logger to remove this area of infestation for a cost of $500.
Mr. Greene also reported that a second flight over the property had revealed additional infestation at which point the county contracted with a Consulting Forester to access the total infestation and make a recommendation for the best solution. The Consulting Forester list of recommendations included:
Thin and Salvage
Thin the whole tract and salvage the infested spot during the process with an income of at least $200 per acre. This would be a good choice only if the thinned trees can be left for another 10 years.
Sell all merchantable timber on a portion, including the infested spot, or all of the tract in a lump, open market, bid, sale with an income of $500-$800 per acre. This would be the best option if landfill use of this land is imminent within the next 5 years.
Handle this in the same manner as the recent salvage of the other infestation. It is unlikely a logger could pay for cutting such a small amount of timber. Even with no income from the salvage, it seems wise to forego the income from 3 to 4 acres to save well over 100 acres.
Fell and Leave the Infested Spot
Hire a crew to go in and simply cut down all the infested trees, and a minimum buffer. This would be the most costly and least appealing solution.
Mr. Greene felt thinning the entire tract and removing the current infestation would be the best solution provided the county has no plans to dispose of the property within the next 10 years. Thinning at the present time would generate $200 per acre. An additional ten years growth of remaining trees would generate approximately $4,000 per acre at the time of timber sale.
Commissioner Robertson asked Mr. Greene if he felt this option would be successful and if he would follow up after the thinning and removing. Mr. Greene responded he was confident that the last hatch of the beetles was completed and stated that rainfall and a hard freeze was needed to protect the land against another infestation. Mr. Greene stated that he would be working with the loggers and would follow up after the tract was thinned.
Commissioner Robertson made a motion to move forward with the Thin and Salvage solution to be checked on in the spring. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
Commissioner Harbinson informed the Board that State Legislators had approved House Bill 195 (NC. History Taught/Student Citizen Act of 2001) to allow NC schools to display historically significant documents including the Ten Commandments.
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, not 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 also discussed the First Amendment which states:
Commissioner Harbinson noted that the NC Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union considered the state statute unconstitutional and has threatened to sue counties that create the displays.
Commissioner Harbinson presented a petition in support of the Board purchasing a set of historical documents, including the Ten Commandments, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights, for each of the 10 public schools in Alexander County and requesting the Board of Education to give permission for the documents to be displayed in each school. Commissioner Harbinson proposed that David Icenhour, Public Information Director, distribute the petition to local churches and civic groups for signatures to determine local interest. Commissioner Harbinson proposed that a public hearing be held on the issue for the November Commissioners Meeting.
Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to distribute the petition to the public and hold a public hearing at the November Commissioners Meeting to determine local interest. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion with a Friendly Amendment to include the First Amendment with the petition. Commissioner Harbinson accepted the Friendly Amendment. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
APPOINTMENTS AND REAPPOINTMENTS
Chairman Odom made the following appointments and reappointments:
Commissioner Robertson made a motion to approve the appointments and reappointments. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Several items were discussed under Other Business which included the following:
Commissioner Watts made a motion to adopt the Resolution Condemning Terrorist Actions and Supporting the President of the United States. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Watts made a motion to contact the Board of Education officials in regard to meeting on October 23, 2001 at 6:05 PM at ACHS. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Rick French County Manager, discussed the following information with the Board:
Commissioner Watts made a motion to change the November 6, 2001 Commissioners Meeting to November 13, 2001 at 6:45 PM. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Harbinson inquired about the progress of the Alexander County History Project. Mr. French responded Kent Kerley was scheduled to attend the meeting but had a conflict and could not attend. Mr. Kerley will attend the November 13, 2001 Commissioners Meeting to give a report on the project.
Commissioner Robertson made a motion to approve the Consent Agenda. Commissioner Watts 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 8:18 PM to discuss contractual and personnel issues pursuant to N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(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 9:10 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