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ALEXANDER COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

2002 PLANNING RETREAT

HIDDEN CRYSTAL INN, HIDDENITE, NC

RETREAT HELD IN THE HIDDENITE ROOM

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2002

PRESENT: Joel C. Harbinson, Chairman
William L. Hammer, Vice-Chairman
David S. Odom
W. Darrell Robertson
John F. Watts
STAFF: Rick French, County Manager
Edward Hedrick, County Attorney
Ray Warren, Sheriff
Jennifer Herman, Budget Officer
Jamie Millsaps, Clerk to the Board
Judy Feimster, Administrative Assistant
David Icenhour, Human Resources/Public Information Director
Greg Cronk, Information Technology Director
Luther Stocks, Tax Administrator
Ron McCarthy, Revaluation Consultant
Nolan Jarvis, EMS Director
Nan Campbell, Director of Social Services
Leeanne Whisnant, Health Director
Terry Foxx, Emergency Management Direcotor
Sylvia Turnmire, Director of Planning & Development
Russell Greene, Fire Marshal
Lenny Rogers, Cooperative Extension Director
Ben Hines, Register of Deeds
Jesse Riddle, Parks & Recreation Director
Keith Hertzler, EDC/Chamber of Commerce Director
Steve Libera, WPCOG GIS Analyst
Ed Regan, NCACC Deputy Director
John Alexander, Foothills Mental Health Director
Guy Barriger, Town of Taylorsville Mayor
Jack Hoke, Alexander County Schools Superintendent
Sharon Mehaffey, School System Finance Officer
Dale Clary, Board of Education Chairman
MEDIA: Gary Herman, The Taylorsville Times
Hannah Mitchell, The Charlotte Observer

On Friday, February 1, 2002, at 8:00 AM, the Alexander County Board of Commissioners began the 2002 Annual Retreat in the Hiddenite Room at the Hidden Crystal Inn in Hiddenite, North Carolina.

FINANCIAL UPDATE

Jennifer Herman, Budget Officer, and Rick French, County Manager, gave a financial update for Alexander County. The following information was presented:

Solid Waste Fund

Mr. French began the financial update with a review of the Solid Waste Fund. Mr. French stated that there had been a continuous loss in the Solid Waste Fund since the landfill closing and the transfer station opening in 1997. Mr. French explained that, like water funds, the Solid Waste Fund was an enterprise fund and stated that it was the only one that was struggling and losing money. Mr. French did note that the Solid Waste Fund had operated in the black during the last 3 months.

Ms. Herman discussed General Fund transfers to the Solid Waste Fund as well as the Solid Waste Fund net income from 1992 to 2001. Ms. Herman noted that from 1992 to 1997, $448,871 was transferred from the General Fund into the Solid Waste Fund. This left the Solid Waste Fund Net Income at $312,483 including the General Fund transfers. Excluding the General Fund transfers, the Solid Waste Fund Net Income had a loss of $136,388.

Ms. Herman also noted that from 1998 to 2001, $948,594 was transferred from the General Fund into the Solid Waste Fund. This left the Solid Waste Fund Net Income at a loss of $110,698 including the General Fund transfers and a loss of $1,059,292 excluding the General Fund transfers. Ms. Herman informed the Board that the Solid Waste Fund owed the General Fund over $1 million.

Ms. Herman also mentioned that the Local Government Commission (LGC) had taken notice of the continuing loss of funds from the Solid Waste Fund. The LGC issued a letter requesting information from county staff in regard to future plans for the landfill and the Solid Waste Fund.

Mr. French stated that the Solid Waste/Landfill department was in need of a garbage truck before July. Mr. French also stated that C & D (Construction & Debris) at the landfill should be closed due to contamination.

Commissioner Robertson inquired about the C & D contamination. Mr. French explained that the contamination occurred while the landfill was closed during 1997-1998. Mr. French stated that if the Board decided to retain C & D, the contamination would have to be monitored and controlled.

Commissioner Hammer suggested that Mr. French look into closing C & D or providing the county’s own hauling options during the budget process.

Mr. French stated that the landfill was collecting $34.51 per ton at the present time while under contract with BFI. Mr. French noted that the county would be contracting with GDS beginning April 1, 2002 for $31.00 per ton which will equal a savings of approximately $60,000 a year.

Six Month Reviews and Projections

Ms. Herman gave a review of the last 6-month period ending December 31, 2001. The review included information regarding revenues and expenditures for the General Fund, Fund Balance, and county departments.

Ms. Herman reported that the General Fund showed a loss of $2,161,494 for the last 6 months. The total loss projected for June 30, 2002 is $2,651,486. The projected total Fund Balance for the period ending June 30, 2002 totaled $7,245,993 and the projected Unreserved Fund Balance totaled $5,327,574.

Commissioner Watts asked if these numbers reflected the 4th quarter cent sales tax monies. Ms. Herman replied that they did not because the monies had not yet been received.

Ms. Herman also discussed General Fund Expenditures by Departments for the 6-month period ending December 31, 2002. Several departments had overly exceeded the 50% mark including Governing Body, Finance, Economic Development, Fire Service, Soil & Water, Communicable Disease, and Special Appropriations.

Ms. Herman noted that the Senior Center budget was low because an $80,000 private donation had originally been budgeted which had not yet been received.

New Reporting Statements

Ms. Herman noted that new reporting statements would soon be required that would drastically change the way financial statements look. Ms. Herman noted that the new financial statements would focus more on the budget as a whole instead of just focusing on the General Fund.

Commissioner Robertson asked who initiated the change in statements. Ms. Herman replied that the Federal Governmental Standards Board had made the changes and noted that the changes would be phased in over the next several years.

Budget Process

Mr. French discussed the upcoming budget process and stated that there was currently $12 million in the Fund Balance. Approximately $7 million will be appropriated to the schools system. Mr. French noted that the county could borrow up to $10 million per calendar year from the LGC which could possibly be used for several projects in the county including water and school projects.

Mr. French noted that the budget process would begin in mid-February at which time he will instruct department heads to begin making preparations. Mr. French explained that he would give the department heads approximately 6 weeks to prepare for the budget before bringing the information to the Board. The Board will have approximately 2 months to review and will adopt the budget in June 2002.

Grants and Loans

Mr. French stated that staff should receive word next month on the $800,000 CDBG grant. Mr. French also discussed the 0% interest loan from Duke Power and stated that the money could be used for the prison buy-down property or sewer. Greg Cronk, Information Technology Director, is working on a $10,000 computer technology grant. Mr. French also noted that the Western North Carolina Caucus would be pushing to get some federal monies appropriated to Alexander County.

The Board thanked Ms. Herman, Mr. French, and the Finance staff for their hard work and dedication.

COUNTY PROJECTS

Several department heads and county staff gave reports on county projects. The following information was discussed and photos of each project were viewed:

State Prison

Ray Warren, Alexander County Sheriff, reported that heavy equipment had been moved to the prison site and that grading had begun. Centex Rooney has applied for and received permits for 4 trailers to be placed at the site during construction. Sheriff Warren stated that the road entering into the site was under construction. Earthmoving and removal of stumps is also taking place. Sheriff Warren noted that the earth and stumps were being buried at the rear of the site.

Sheriff Warren also noted that a Job Fair would be held in February or March and approximately 200 people would be hired to assist in the construction process. Chairman Harbinson noted that the prison would be the largest construction project, other than road projects, in the history of western North Carolina.

Sheriff Warren also discussed the Juvenile Detention Center and stated that there had been some construction problems. The center will open sometime in April 2002.

David Icenhour, Human Resources/Public Information Director, noted that Centex Rooney had placed a web cam at the prison site. The cam will begin running sometime in the early construction of the prison and will have a 15-minute delay.

Hospital

Commissioner Watts stated that Alexander Hospital Investors, LLC had purchased the hospital property for $1.9 million through an auction held in November 2001. The group is headed by Charles Trefzger and co-owns a chain of NC assisted living centers. Commissioner Watts reported that Frye Regional Medical Center had agreed to lease a part of the hospital from the investors to re-open a Critical Access Hospital. Frye will be providing laboratory and radiology services plus impatient beds for observation and admission. A 24-hour emergency room will also be available.

Commissioner Watts noted that the hospital would be called "Frye Regional Medical Center – Alexander Campus."

Commissioner Hammer asked if the old doctor buildings were included in the bankruptcy settlement. Commissioner Watts replied that those buildings were not included in the bankruptcy settlement and noted that BB&T had a lien on the buildings.

                The Board commended Commissioner Watts for his work with the hospital.

Community Grants

Commissioner Robertson discussed the community grants project and explained that the county would provide a $1,000 matching grant for each community or civic group for projects to enhance their community. Commissioner Robertson stated that $12,000 would be a part of the $30,000-$80,000 in projects when figuring the time that would be put into the projects. Commissioner Robertson stated that community grants was a way to let the community know that the Board was aware of their needs and to give the people a little tax money back.

Commissioner Robertson mentioned that David Icenhour, Human Resources/Public Information Director, had completed an application form that could be viewed on the county web site or picked up at the Administration Office. Commissioner Harbinson suggested placing applications in several county offices including the Register of Deeds, Planning & Inspections, and Social Services.

Commissioner Watts noted that the deadline for applications was March 31, 2002 and that the winners would be announced at the May 7, 2002 Commissioners’ Meeting. Chairman Harbinson suggested holding a separate ceremony to present the grants. The Board agreed to discuss the ceremony issue at a later date.

CVCC/Alexander Center

Commissioner Watts explained that Alexander County would be getting $1 million of the $10 million State bond monies appropriated for Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC). The funds will be used to renovate a 15,000 square foot building in Industrial Park to house the new CVCC-Alexander Center.

Commissioner Watts explained that Lorrie Zimmerman, ADW Architects, would be submitting the drawings for final review on February 6, 2002. Commissioner Watts stated that the bidding process was expected to begin by April 17, 2002 and that bids should be received by May 15, 2002. The contract is scheduled to be awarded on May 29, 2002.

Chairman Harbinson mentioned that the renovations would take approximately 6 months to complete. A reception will be planned for December 2002 and a groundbreaking ceremony could be held in June 2003.

Discussion was also held regarding the multi-purpose room planned for the building. Commissioner Watts felt that the room could be used jointly between CVCC, Board of Commissioners, Board of Education, Town of Taylorsville, and community groups and stated that a schedule could be made to avoid overlapping of events and meetings.

It was noted that an alternate bid could be needed for the large podium/desk since the State may not include the desk in the bond monies.

Commissioner Watts stated that negotiations were continuing with Visacom Technology for an intercom system, lighting, etc. Rick French, County Manger, stated that meetings would be taped and noted that a schedule would be needed since everyone could not use the equipment. It was mentioned that training sessions could be held to train staff to use the equipment

Government Channel

Chairman Harbinson explained that, in the future as early as this fall, Commissioners’ Meetings would be broadcast on the Government Channel as well as other meetings. Chairman Harbinson stated that he would like school events, sporting events, chorus concerts, etc. to air on the Government Channel as well. Chairman Harbinson also suggested that David Icenhour, Human Resources/Public Information Director conduct interviews of county department heads to broadcast on the Government Channel. Commissioner Watts stated that he would like to see ACHS graduations on the Government Channel.

Dusty Ridge Park

Chairman Harbinson began discussion of Dusty Ridge Park and explained that the 70-acre park was leased from Duke Power for 30 years.

Jesse Riddle, Parks & Recreation Director, stated that most of the work at the park had been done by Caldwell County inmates. Mr. Riddle noted that the inmates would be finishing the nature trail next week. Assistance was also received from the National Guard. Mr. Riddle stated that the press box and concession stand had been completed and that scoreboards were being placed. Fencing should also be installed next week.

Mr. Riddle stated that Phase II plans for the park included tennis courts, a volleyball court, picnic shelters, paving, and lighting.

Chairman Harbinson also stated that Sam Erwin, WPCOG, had submitted an application for Dusty Ridge Park to the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) for their 2001-2002 grant cycle. Mr. Erwin has reported that the application for Dusty Ridge Park was the only one submitted from the western region of the state and that the park had "maxed out" on points. Mr. Erwin is very confident that Dusty Ridge Park will receive the grant.

Chairman Harbinson suggested passing a resolution at the February 12, 2002 Commissioners’ Meeting in order to thank the Department of Correction for their help with Dusty Ridge Park.

Animal Shelter

Commissioner Robertson stated that the animal shelter building was on site beside the National Guard Armory. Crews have hit soft material and stone will be placed to support the building. Commissioner Robertson also noted it had been decided that the floors inside the animal shelter would be concrete.

Chairman Harbinson good-naturedly mentioned that the proposed unofficial name for the animal shelter was the "DOG (David Odom Government) Pound."

Courthouse Tower

Ben Hines, Register of Deeds, gave a brief update of the progress of the courthouse tower. The tower will be 16 feet tall and will include a cornerstone from the old courthouse that burned as well as the old bell. Mr. Hines also noted that the tower would have a domed roof.

Mr. Hines stated that he had spoken with Larry Robinson, ACHS, about allowing the vocational students to build the tower. Mr. Robinson was reluctant to let his students build the tower due to the difficulty of the masonry. Therefore, Mr. Hines suggested that an outside contractor be hired to complete the brickwork. Mr. Hines stated that he would like to start the project by late March or early April in order for the tower to be completed by Memorial Day.

Commissioner Watts mentioned the time capsule that was discussed by the Board in 2000. Mr. Hines felt that creating a time capsule was a great idea and suggested burying the time capsule next to the tower. The Board designated Commissioner Odom to research the possibility of a time capsule.

July 4th Celebration

Commissioner Odom discussed the July 4th Celebration and stated that he had directed Ben Hines, Register of Deeds, and Seth Chapman, Clerk of Court, to research the feasibility of the issue.

Chairman Harbinson stated that the issue would be discussed at the February 12, 2002 Commissioners’ Meeting.

Social Services/ESC Project

Commissioner Robertson stated that the county had contracted with Stan Winstead for engineering services for the addition to Social Services. Commissioner Robertson stated that bids were expected to go out in April 2002.

Rick French, County Manager, stated that there would be a 6,500 square foot addition to the Social Services building in an "L" shape to house the Employment Security Commission (ESC). Mr. French also noted that he hoped to move the Board of Elections into the old ESC building. It was noted that the old ESC building would need some renovations to the entranceway and bathrooms to make it handicapped accessible.

History Book Project

Chairman Harbinson stated that the history book project had been contracted out and that it should be completed in late fall 2002. Chairman Harbinson stated that Lee Sharpe and Kent Kerley had played a big role in the history book project.

Chairman Harbinson noted that there would be several interesting points discussed in the history book. Chairman Harbinson commended prior boards for starting this project.

Public Safety Council

Commissioner Odom stated that the Public Safety Council was appointed to discuss goals and open lines of communications to help keep volunteer services operating efficiently. The Public Safety Council will meet on an as needed basis. Commissioner Odom noted that the first meeting would be held on Tuesday, February 5, 2002 and stated that items for discussion included the new EMS regulations and the adjustment of fire taxes due to revaluation.

Little River/Three Forks Water Project

Commissioner Odom reported on the Little River/Three Forks Water Project and stated that the first part of the project was for Three Forks Road and Wood Road. It included 1,380 feet of 8-inch line, 3,794 feet of 6-inch line, and 7 hydrants. The second part of the project was for Little River Road, Glass Road, Parsonville Road, McDuffie Court, and St. Clair Road. It included 22,000 feet of 8-inch line, 3,200 feet of 6-inch line, 24 hydrants, a 75,000-gallon standpipe located on McDuffie Court, and a pump station located on Little River Road.

Commissioner Odom noted that the entire project connected 104 homes affecting 275 individuals. The total cost of the CDBG was $870,625 of which the county’s part was $150,000.

Commissioner Odom also mentioned that approximately 11,000 feet of 8-inch pipe had been installed from Three Forks Road to Piney Grove Road. There have also been 12 hydrants placed and 8 taps have been made by the City of Hickory crews to date. The total cost of this project was $170,900.47. Mr. Greene stated that the extension looped Three Forks with Piney Grove providing the Sugar Loaf District with a water supply in addition to the Town of Taylorsville.

Commissioner Odom also discussed the CDBG Hook Up Demonstration Grants and stated that $67,500 was available for hook ups. To date, 10 hook ups have been completed. Nancy Coley, WPCOG Community Development Administrator, has received 30 applications and anticipates between 40 and 50 total connections from this grant.

Water Task Force

Commissioner Hammer discussed the Water Task Force and stated that the task force had met for the first time on December 3, 2001 with 100% participation. During the meeting, the task force outlined the water system. Commissioner Hammer also noted that the second meeting had been scheduled for February 4, 2002 but was later rescheduled for March 4, 2002.

Commissioner Hammer discussed the possibility of combining all water districts into one large district excluding Bethlehem. The task force will look at setting boundaries for whole districts.

Commissioner Odom stated that he was thankful for Commissioner Hammer’s expertise in water due to his experience on the Highway 16 South Water Task Force.

Commissioner Hammer stated that he would like to see the county build its own water plant but knew that it was not economically feasible and would never happen.

Rick French, County Manager, reviewed several maps that showed where water lines were located, where water districts were located, and what water lines and districts were being proposed. Mr. French also discussed undoing the water districts and stated that he would be in contact with the Institute of Government on exactly how to move forward.

Mr. French also discussed providing water to the entire county by forming a loop around the county and branching out water lines from the loop.

Chairman Harbinson instructed David Icenhour, Human Resources/Public Information Director, to place the maps displayed at the retreat on the county web site.

Bethlehem Property

Rick French, County Manager, stated that the Board had agreed to lease office space in Bethlehem. The 4,100 square feet office space will be leased for $3,000 per month. Mr. French stated that several departments had an interest in the office space and noted that anyone interested should contact him. Mr. French also noted that once the office opened, a schedule would be posted so that citizens would know when someone would be in the office to help them with a specific need.

Chairman Harbinson suggested placing an article in the Bethlehem Star to see what type of services people in Bethlehem would like to have in the new office. Several citizens have suggested a library with GIS and Internet access.

County Logo

Chairman Harbinson discussed redesigning the county logo to present at the July 4th Celebration. Chairman Harbinson suggested dividing the county outline into 4 quadrants to include one representing our agricultural heritage, one representing our manufacturing heritage, one representing our faith-based heritage, and one for a symbol unique to the county. Chairman Harbinson felt that the county citizens should design the logo and suggested a contest to be conducted by the Public Information Director. Chairman Harbinson also suggested including a short slogan on the logo as well. The issue will be discussed at the February 12, 2002 Commissioners’ Meeting

GIS UPDATES

Greg Cronk, Information Technology Director, briefly discussed the new Geographical Information System (GIS) and explained that the new system allows residents to access information about land parcels over the Internet. The new GIS system will be up and running on Monday, February 4, 2002. Mr. Cronk introduced Steve Libera, WPCOG GIS Analyst, who presented a Power Point Presentation which included the following information:

Parcel Maintenance allows you to:

    • Perform parcel splits
    • Update attribute changes (owners, acreage, tax value, etc.)
    • Storage and backup in spatial database engine (SDE)

Internet Mapping Service (IMS) gives you:

    • Ability to view, query, and print county data via the Internet
    • Public access terminals
    • Accessibility to various layers of data (parcels, zoning, floodplain, contours, hydrological features, street centerlines)

E-911 Addressing is used for:

    • Global positioning of driveways and street centerline connections
    • Assigning new structures E-911 addresses
    • Maintenance and storage

Various GIS Projects include:

    • Migration of data to SDE
    • Maintenance of fire hydrants
    • Waterline mapping
    • Public request for custom mapping
    • Digital zoning layer
    • Creation of flood plain layer

Future GIS Plans include:

    • Integrate E-911 data into Microsoft SQL
    • Create IMS pages for Board of Elections
    • Develop a county atlas book
    • Provide department heads with ideas on what GIS can do for them

Commissioner Watts asked if the new GIS system would show an overlay of water lines over a 100-acre tract. Mr. Libera stated that the GIS system did not include that feature yet.

Several inquired about the public requests for custom mapping. Mr. Libera stated that citizens could request custom mapping and the information would be free but there would be an hourly charge to transfer and print the custom maps.

Commissioner Robertson asked how long it would take to update the GIS system for revaluation. Mr. Libera stated that the GIS system was already updated and would reflect the new values on Monday.

Commissioner Watts inquired about fly-over photographs viewed on the GIS system. Mr. Cronk stated that the latest fly-over photos were taken in 1999 and that more would be taken during the next revaluation cycle.

Mr. Cronk discussed the current contract with the WPCOG for GIS and stated that the current contract cost was $50,600. Mr. Cronk stated that the Board had an option to continue the contract for the next year for a higher cost of approximately $60,000 or hire a full-time GIS analyst to run the system in-house.

Commissioner Robertson instructed Rick French, County Manager, to research the issue and analyze a comparison to determine the best solution.

REVALUATION UPDATE

Luther Stocks, Tax Administrator, gave an update on the revaluation process and presented a Power Point Presentation. Mr. Stocks noted that the revaluation project was complete and that there was an overall value increase of around 50%. Notices will be sent out in mid February.

The Power Point Presentation included the following information:

Revaluation Staff

    • Stan Vance
    • Sally Lackey
    • Brian Penley
    • Greg Brookshire
    • Ron McCarthy, Consultant

What is the Real Property Appraisal Division for:

    • Establish schedule of values
    • Measure and list all structures
    • Review all real property in Alexander County
    • Apply the established schedules to the property
    • Send notices to the property owners
    • Defend assessments in all phases of appeal

When will Revaluation go into effect:

    • The revaluation will be effective January 1, 2002
    • The new values will be reflected on the tax bill you receive in August 2002

What is the Appeal Process?

    • Citizen can discuss their new value with a representative of the Tax Department
    • If not resolved, the citizen may request a formal hearing with the Board of Equalization & Review
    • If not satisfied, the citizen may request a formal hearing with the NC Property Tax Commission
    • If still not satisfied, the Court of Appeals will hear a complaint

Notes about Value Totals:

    • Real estate value may change during informal hearings and Board of Equalization & Review hearings
    • The elderly exemption increase reflects estimated amount for 2002 due to law change
    • Personal property reflects 5% increase over last year
    • Utilities reflect 25% increase

Reasons to Appeal:

    • Market Value (Valid)
    • Equitable assessment with comparable properties (Valid)
    • Taxes are too high (Invalid)
    • Inability to pay (Invalid)
    • Services too low (Invalid)
    • Amount of increase (Invalid)

Fire Tax

Russell Greene, Fire Marshal, discussed the adjustment of the fire tax due to revaluation and stated that a 10%-15% increase was discussed. Mr. Greene reviewed each volunteer fire departments current values and rates and then the projected rates and incomes. Mr. Greene also noted that these could change depending on the tax rate adopted by the Board during the budget process and after all appeals have been heard by the Board of Equalization and Review.

Mr. Greene presented the following numbers for the fire departments:

 

Current

Projected

% Increase

Bethlehem

$410,525,831 Value

$564,723,271 Value

10%

 

0.035 Rate

0.028 Rate

 
 

$143,684 Income

$158,122 Income

 
       
Wittenburg

$177,277,267 Value

$257,259,573 Value

11.5%

 

0.056 Rate

0.043 Rate

 
 

$99,275 Income

$110,621 Income

 
       
Hiddenite

$168,131,328 Value

$219,816,628 Value

10%

 

0.045 Rate

0.038 Rate

 
 

$75,659 Income

$83,530 Income

 
       
Stony Point

$117,090,824 Value

$162,760,543 Value

16%

 

0.06 Rate

0.05 Rate

 
 

$70,254 Income

$81,380 Income

 
       
Ellendale

$123,108,602 Value

$175,559,605 Value

11%

 

0.05 Rate

0.039 Rate

 
 

$61,554 Income

$68,468 Income

 
       
Sugar Loaf

$83,763,830 Value

$115,824,462 Value

11.80%

 

0.068 Rate

0.055 Rate

 
 

$56,959 Income

$63,703 Income

 
       
Central Alexander

$201,046,884 Value

$264,824,119 Value

12%

 

0.04 Rate

0.034 Rate

 
 

$80,418 Income

$90,040 Income

 
       
Vashti

$55,031,950 Value

$82,975,178 Value

15.50%

 

0.065 Rate

0.049 Rate

 
 

$35,770 Income

$40,657 Income

 

Mr. Greene noted that the Stony Point Volunteer Fire Department would lose approximately $4,500 and Vashti Volunteer Fire Department would lose approximately $4,000 in revenues to the Hiddenite Station 2.

The Board discussed the increases for the fire tax and agreed that each fire department should get at least a 10% increase. Commissioner Odom also noted that the Rescue Squad should be looked at in the same manner and on the same basis as a fire department in regard to appropriate funding. Commissioner Odom instructed Rick French, County Manager, to investigate the matter.

SPECIAL RECOGNITION

Before lunch, Chairman Harbinson honored Rick French, County Manager, with a custom made portrait of his two sons, Hunter and Parker, paid for by the Board. Chairman Harbinson also gave Mr. French one of the shovels used at the Alexander Correctional Institute groundbreaking ceremony. Chairman Harbinson thanked Mr. French for his hard work on so many projects and for his dedication to the employees and citizens of Alexander County.

NCACC UPDATE

Ed Regan, NC Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) Deputy Director, gave an update on several state issues. The report included the following information:

Legislative Update

Mr. Regan discussed the State deficit and stated that the deficit was up to $800 million and could be up to $1 billion this year. The General Assembly made some adjustments to the budget this year which resulted in a temporary cent sales tax increase effective until July 1, 2003.

Mr. Regan stated that it was possible that Governor Easley would hold inventory tax reimbursements again this year but noted that cities and counties would be given a cent local option sales tax. Mr. Regan explained that cities and counties would be given the authority to enact a cent local option sales tax when the temporary State cent sales tax ended on July 1, 2002. However, this would replace the tax reimbursements completely. If the Board chooses to enact the cent local option sales tax, the Board must do so by resolution after a public hearing or by local referendum. Mr. Regan stated that this must be done between now and July 2003; however, the cent local option sales tax can not be enacted until July 1, 2003. Mr. Regan noted that food purchased for home consumption was exempt from the sales tax.

Commissioner Watts noted that Alexander County would gain $303,000 if the cent local option sales tax was enacted over and above what it currently received in reimbursements.

Mr. Regan also discussed the loss of sales tax through Internet, telephone, and mail order. The Board first discussed this issue in March 2000. The Streamline Simplified Tax Proposal is begin lobbied for in Washinton.

Mr. Regan also stated that a new law would soon take affect to allow sales taxes to be collected at the point of delivery. In the past, sales taxes have been collected at the point of transactions or sale. For example, if an item is purchased in Raleigh and then delivered to Taylorsville, Taylorsville would collect the sales tax. Mr. Regan stated that it would be impossible at this point to determine who would benefit the most from this new law but noted that sales taxes would be much easier to track.

Emergency 911 Funds

Mr. Regan stated that the State had severe limits on how to spend Emergency 911 funds. For example, 911 funds can be used to enhance the ability to receive calls but the funds cannot be used to purchase equipment to enhance dispatch. Mr. Regan stated that officials would be trying to get this changed during the General Assembly’s short session.

Public Schools

Mr. Regan stated that the General Assembly had done much for the school system and that they had been able to start addressing some of Governor Easley’s initiatives for public schools. This included $12 million for class size reduction, $2.5 million for teacher recruitment, as well as funds for supplemental budget increases, salary increases, and continuation budget increases for a bottom line total increase of $122.8 million plus salary increases.

Redistricting

Mr. Regan stated that February 17, 2002 was the deadline for completion of the review of new districts. The General Assembly expects a decision on State House and Senate districts by February 11, 2002. Mr. Regan noted that if a decision was not made by then, the primary could be delayed and candidates would file under the old districts.

Board Questions

Commissioner Hammer inquired about the CDBG cuts. Mr. Regan stated that some of the CDBG funds were held due to the shortfall.

Ed Hedrick, County Attorney, asked if federal money could be used to divert the shortfall. Mr. Regan stated that he would investigate the issue.

Commissioner Odom asked if the school bond monies were in jeopardy. Mr. Regan replied that they were not. Commissioner Odom also asked if the State would take money from the Fireman’s Pension Fund. Mr. Regan stated that the State would be reluctant to take those monies.

                Commissioner Watts stated his disappointment in being labeled as a Tier 5 county.

Commissioner Robertson inquired about the lottery. Mr. Regan stated that he expected the lottery issue to be taken up in the General Assembly’s short session.

EMS UPDATE

Nolan Jarvis, EMS Director, gave an update on several issues affecting Emergency Medical Services. Those items included the following:

Medicare Reimbursements

Mr. Jarvis stated that changes were made to the Medicare laws about 2 years ago. A fee schedule was implemented for ambulance services to take effect April 1, 2002. The fees will be phased in over the next 4 years with 20% the first year, 50% the second, 80% the third, and 100% the fourth. Mr. Jarvis stated that when the program is implemented, EMS revenues should increase approximately $120,000.

Commissioner Odom asked how the closing of the hospital had affected EMS. Mr. Jarvis stated that the impact of the hospital closing was minimal and explained that EMS crews were spending a little more time on calls because they were transporting patients out of the county. Mr. Jarvis discussed the re-opening of the hospital and stated that EMS would work with the new hospital to determine transport decisions.

Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Team

Mr. Jarvis reported that the Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Team had been defunded due to the state cutbacks. The team provides counseling to emergency providers and volunteers after a traumatic experience. Anita Cox’s position with the WPCOG was also defunded.

New EMS Regulations

Mr. Jarvis gave an update on the new EMS regulations. Mr. Jarvis explained that during the 2001 session of the General Assembly, 2 bills (HB 452 and HB 453) passed which affected EMS programs statewide. These laws consolidate all rulemaking authority for EMS under the NC Medical Care Commission (MCC). General Statute 143-517 states that each county shall ensure that emergency medical services are provided to citizens. Because of this, all EMS rules have been updated and reorganized for codification as temporary rules under the authority of MCC.

Mr. Jarvis stated that the temporary rules were adopted for codification by the MCC at their December meeting and became effective on January 1, 2002. County government now has the responsibility for EMS and will be required to oversee all pre-hospital emergency medical care to some degree. The new rules require that each county establish an EMS system and any providers who wish to operate in the county must be affiliated with the EMS system.

Each county system must adopt treatment protocols, patient care policies, and standardized procedures to be used by all providers operating under the system. These must meet the standards set by the NC College of Emergency Physicians (NCCEP).

Mr. Jarvis reported that required drug inventories, equipment, training, certification requirements, medical oversight standards, and data collection were all being retooled in an effort to bring NC programs into alignment with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) document EMS Agenda for the Future.

Chairman Harbinson noted that this issue would be discussed at the Public Safety Task Force on Tuesday, February 5, 2002.

Commissioner Odom stated that he was concerned about the volunteers and first responders. Commissioner Odom felt that a team concept was needed.

Mr. Jarvis stated that the Regional Specialist would contact Mr. French to set up a meeting to explain. Mr. Jarvis also stated that the new regulations required an Implementation Committee and suggested that he serve on the core committee as well as Leeanne Whisnant, Health Director; Dr. Trevor Craig, Medical Director; Keith Millsaps, Rescue Squad President; and the Firemen’s Association President. Mr. Jarvis stated that other individuals could be added as needed.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT UPDATE

Keith Hertzler, EDC/Chamber of Commerce Director, gave an update on the following information:

Recap of 2001

Mr. Hertzler reviewed activities for 2001 and stated that the EDC/Chamber of Commerce received 68 student information requests, 83 relocation requests, 93 tourism requests, 10 incentive policy requests, and 11 client business requests.

Trip to Germany and France

Mr. Hertzler discussed his trip to Germany and France and stated that he met with over 150 business representatives while there. Mr. Hertzler presented a Power Point Presentation which was shown to business representatives in Germany and France. The presentation included several photos of Alexander County landmarks, businesses, parks, and industry.

Commissioner Hammer suggested putting some agricultural photos in the presentation.

Prospect Update

Mr. Hertzler stated that Textron was holding off on restructuring. A letter of intent was sent before the terrorist incident on September 11, 2001 and machinery has already been purchased. Textron will be located in the Industrial Park.

The Japanese businessmen are looking for property in Roanoke, VA. Mr. Hertzler stated that Taylorsville was their final site in NC. Mr. Hertzler stated that the Department of Commerce said to hold tight because they would possibly be back.

Investment Update

Mr. Hertzler reviewed the 2001 investments including Escod/Insilco’s 75,000 square feet addition. Super Absorbent will be here in February 2002. The State Employees Credit Union will be open end of March or first of April.

Several businesses have expanded their facilities including Riverside Convenience, Innovative Wood Products, Lowes Grocery, and Mays Meats. Mr. Hertzler stated that the total cost of all expansions totaled $9.7 million.

Mr. Hertzler also noted that the county got a new Wal-Mart, Wendy’s, and a new State prison. Mr. Hertzler mentioned that there were no tax incentives used for any of these projects.

Where to go From Here

Mr. Hertzler stated that infrastructure was the key and felt that Alexander County should market itself for appropriate small businesses and industries. Mr. Hertzler informed the Board that Alexander County had an agreement with Catawba, Caldwell, and Lincoln Counties. Any overflow of any businesses not suitable for these counties will come to Alexander County.

SOCIAL SERVICES UPDATE

Nan Campbell, Director of Social Services, gave an update on the Alexander County Department of Social Services. Ms. Campbell presented a Power Point Presentation on the 2000-2001 highlights which included the following:

Major issues affecting DSS locally across the state:

    • Escalating Medicaid costs
    • Economic impact on progress
    • Restructuring of personnel
    • Civil rights review lawsuits
    • Expansion plan

Ms. Campbell discussed Medicaid costs and informed the Board that DSS determined eligibility for Medicaid based on income and reserve for all groups except SSI recipients. Ms. Campbell stated that there had been an increase in applicants (70,000 more) due to people being laid off and not being eligible for COBRA. Ms. Campbell also stated that there was a 20% increase in Medicaid for this year and next year. Alexander County has 3,900 people eligible for Medicaid.

Economic Impact

    • Food stamps
    • Federal Fuel Assistance cuts
    • Increase in Emergency Assistance needs
    • Less work options available

Ms. Campbell stated that food stamp cases had increased to a total of 700 and noted that a $20,000 grant had been applied for from Federal Emergency Management Assistance to assist the unemployed.

Restructuring of Personnel Services

    • Legislative change enacted
    • Elimination of 12 DHHS positions that served local jurisdictions
    • Latest plan from OSP is favorable to the county

Civil Rights Issue

    • State was found out of compliance in serving non-English proficient populations
    • Potential lawsuits due to delay in service

Ms. Campbell stated DSS was working to improve services for the minority populations. Ms. Campbell also stated that DSS served many from the Latino and Hmong minority population. The Board inquired about interpreters. Ms. Campbell stated that interpreters are brought in from out of county when needed and were paid wages and travel. Ms. Campbell stated that she would like to have their own interpreter on staff in Alexander County as well as bilingual workers in the front office at DSS.

HEALTH DEPARTMENT UPDATE

Leeanne Whisnant, Health Director, began the Health Department update with information regarding disease reporting. Ms. Whisnant reported that the Health Department would be working with the community to help citizens understand disease reporting and also noted that federal money would be given for regional response teams to expand support for all diseases, not just bioterrorism.

Ms. Whisnant discussed Health Department visits which included the following:

3,196 Public Health Preventive Clinic visits
755 WIC Clients
10,003 Home Health visits
4,771 Environmental Health contacts
6,202 immunizations given
1,400 flu vaccines given

Ms. Whisnant reviewed 2000-2001 revenues for the Health Department which totaled $1,791,351 and included $160,702 for Medicaid recipients, $328,351 for State funds, and $1,302,296 for fees collected.

Ms. Whisnant reported that Alexander County had gone from 8th place to 3rd place in the State immunization rate for the western region.

Ms. Whisnant also reported that Health Department staff was working with flexible scheduling. Staff will be staying later in the evenings to provide more convenience for citizens who work a later shift.

County employee health care was discussed. Ms. Whisnant stated that staff would like to do more for county employees and provide things like stop smoking clinics and weight watchers lunches.

Animal Control

Ms. Whisnant reported that Animal Control was now operating under the Health Department and reviewed the proposed fees.

Bite Dogs (unvaccinated): $20 pick up fee / $5.00 per day room & board.  Rabies vaccination when dog is picked up (if owner brings dog to shelter, they can save $20.00 pick up fee)
Return to Owner fee: $20.00 pick up fee / $5.00 per day room and board
Failure to Turn in Bite Dog: $50.00 per day for every day not in quarantine
Civil Citations: $50.00 per offense. Example: failure to have rabies vaccinations on 2 dogs would be $100.00. Example: failure to provide shelter or sanitary conditions.
Adoption Fee:

$20.00 for dog or cat

Rabies Vaccine:

$10.00

Ms. Whisnant stated that the Board of Health would be reviewing standard operating procedures for Animal Control at their next meeting.

Ms. Whisnant commented on the Animal Action Leage and stated that many volunteer helped with the animals that are picked up by Animal Control.   Ms. Whisnant voiced her concerns with the volunteers taking the animals and moving them around and stated that she was concerned about lawsuits.  Ms. Whisnant stated that staff would make sure the volunteers were protected and supervised.

Ms. Whisnant also discussed the new animal shelter and stated that once completed, there would be 2 officers and 1 clerical person housed in the building.

Ms. Whisnant went over the following animal facts:

    • More than 70,000 puppies and kittens are born everyday in the US
    • Only 1 out of every 5 of these dogs and cats ever find a home
    • In 7 years, 1 female dog (and her offspring) can produce 4,372 dogs
    • In 6 years, 1 female cat (and her offspring) can produce 420,715 cats
    • The US spends about $1 billion annually on animal control
    • 80% of all dogs killed by an automobile are unaltered males.

Ms. Whisnant informed the Board that staff was considering making it mandatory to spay and neuter adopted animals.

PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT OPTIONS

Sylvia Turnmire, Director of Planning & Development, addressed public hearing scheduling options and ordinance revisions first discussed at the January 22, 2002 meeting.

Joint Public Hearings

Ms. Turnmire explained that joint public hearings could be held between the Board of Commissioners and Planning & Zoning Commission to significantly shorten the timeframe of rezoning cases.

Ms. Turnmire clarified that the joint public hearings would take place at the Board of Commissioners’ Regular Meeting instead of the Planning & Zoning Commission Meetings. Ms. Turnmire also stated that the Planning & Zoning Commission could hold 2 meetings a month instead of one a month if so desired by the Board.

Timeframe on Subdivision Plats

Ms. Turnmire discussed subdivision plats and explained that an amendment was made last year that allowed staff to approve minor subdivisions. Ms. Turnmire reported that this had sped up the process tremendously.

Manufactured Home Ordinance

At the January 22, 2002, Commissioner Robertson discussed a loophole in the Manufactured Home Appearance Criteria Ordinance and felt that it should be addressed.

Commissioner Robertson explained that with the current ordinance, a pre 76 mobile home could be moved in from another county if the mobile home was being placed in a mobile home park. The mobile home could then be moved to a lot within the county. Commissioner Robertson stated that this ordinance was not keeping these mobile homes out of the county as planned and felt that it should be reworded.

Ms. Turnmire stated that Luther Stocks, Tax Administrator, had printed a list for her which showed the number of mobile homes in the county through 1999. The list showed that there were 1,063 singlewides and 3,287 doublewides located within the county. Ms. Turnmire noted that approximately 1/3 of the county’s pre 76 mobile homes were grandfathered in when the ordinance was adopted.

Commissioner Robertson explained that pre 76 mobile homes did not meet HUD standards and were fire hazards. Commissioner Robertson suggested that the Planning & Zoning Commission deny any requests to move a pre 76 mobile home for safety reasons.

Commissioner Hammer inquired about the disposal of mobile homes. Ms. Turnmire replied that mobile homes could be disposed of at the Caldwell County landfill. Ms. Turnmire also stated that Caldwell County had a manufactured home dump as well.

Subdivision Ordinance

Commissioner Robertson voiced his concerns with the Subdivision Ordinance and explained that that with the current ordinance, families could not divide their property into sections for family members.

Ms. Turnmire explained that if the ordinance was changed to allow private roads built to State specs, it would be easier to allow families to divide their property.

After the review, Ms. Turnmire stated that she and the Planning & Zoning Commission would discuss and review the changes suggested.

FOOTHILLS MENTAL HEALTH

John Alexander, Foothills Mental Health Director, gave an overview of Foothills Mental Health and stated that Foothills served McDowell, Burke, Caldwell, and Alexander governmental agencies. Mr. Alexander noted that each county had the option to provide mental health and substance abuse treatment itself or contract with an agency such as Foothills Mental Health.

Mr. Alexander explained that a new Mental Health Reform Bill was adopted due to reports of financial unaccountability and complaints that mental health facilities weren’t responsive to consumer needs. The new legislation promotes consumer and county determination in regard to a mental health provider and allows the consumer to decide what is needed. Mr. Alexander stated that consumer forums would be held through October or November 2002 to gather public input and identify gaps.

Mr. Alexander stated that once all forums have been held and the new plan is adopted, the county must decide to provide mental health and substance abuse treatment on the county’s own behalf or contract with Foothills. Mr. Alexander also stated that the county must declare its intent by resolution by October but noted that the decision could not be made until the formal plan has been approved by Secretary Buell.

Mr. Alexander notified the Board that a consumer forum would be held in Alexander County on Monday, February 4, 2002 from 6:00-8:00 PM at East Taylorsville Baptist Church.

Mr. Alexander also discussed the budget shortfall situation in Raleigh and noted that the State may ask counties to pick up the gap in funding but noted that counties may not be able to do so.

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT PLAN UPDATE

Terry Foxx, Emergency Management Director, gave an update on the Emergency Management Plan. Mr. Foxx presented a Power Point Presentation which included the following information.

Goals

    • Reorganize Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC).
    • Implement a Terrorism Plan.
    • Implement a County Animal Response Plan (CART).
    • Update Emergency Operations Plan (EOP).

Review of Key Objectives & Critical Factors

    • EOP had not been updated in last 10 years.
    • By re-organizing the LEPC, the EOP can be updated annually.
    • Incorporate annexes as needed to get the county prepared.

Review of Key Steps to Plan Rewrite

    • Review current plan for inadequacies.
    • Re-establish the LEPC.
    • Placement of current EOP in electronic format.
    • Addition of annexes (terrorism and animal response).

Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC)

    • LEPC is a mandate of the SARA Title III of the Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986.
    • The act requires one LEPC per district.
    • Alexander County LEPC has been inactive for approximately 8-10 years.
    • Membership was approved by the Board of Commissioners in February and March 2001.
    • State Emergency Response Commission approved the names for LEPC at their April Meeting.
    • Reformed Alexander LEPC held its first meeting on July 31, 2002 and the 4th quarter meeting was held in November. Revision to the by-laws are in progress.
    • Once complete, LEPC will tackle the remaining revisions to the EOP.

Terrorism Preparedness

    • Since September 11, 2001, many different types of terrorism training have taken place throughout the county.
    • How to combat terrorism: planning, training, practical exercises, evaluations.
    • The Terrorism Plan was adopted by the Board of Commissioners on March 6, 2001 as Appendix O to the EOP.
    • The plan spelled out response procedures and training for all county responders and government officials. The plan also addressed Threat and Vulnerability Assessments Needs and spelled out Command and Control Responsibilities of agencies.

Animal Response Preparedness

    • Since Hurricane Floyd, the State has requested that each county develop an animal response plan.
    • The Board of Commissioners approved the Animal Response Plan on July 10, 2002 as appendix P of the EOP.

Emergency Operations Plan

    • The current plan was in old format and was 10 years old.
    • The State required that each county submit an electronic copy of the current plan to them.
    • The plan is currently on computer and staff is working on a draft revision.
    • Each department will receive a copy of their respective area for review when the draft revision is complete.
    • Staff review all changes made by department heads and apply them to master plan.
    • When final revisions are in place and accepted by all departments, staff will submit the plan to the Board of Commissioners for final approval.

Commissioner Odom suggested training volunteers for animal response as well as developing a training packet for volunteers.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business, the Retreat was adjourned at 5:30 PM to be continued on Saturday, February 2, 2002.

 

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2002

PRESENT: Joel C. Harbinson, Chairman
William L. Hammer, Vice-Chairman
David S. Odom
W. Darrell Robertson
John F. Watts
STAFF: Rick French, County Manager
Ed Hedrick, County Attorney
Jennifer Herman, Budget Officer
Jamie Millsaps, Clerk to the Board
Judy Feimster, Administrative Assistant
David Icenhour, Human Resources/Public Information Director
Jack Hoke, Alexander County Schools Superintendent
Dr. Barry Remond, Associate Superintendent
Renee Edwards, School System Public Information Director
Debra Watts, Administrative Assistant
Sharon Mehaffey, School System Finance Officer
Dale Clary, Board of Education Chairman
Dr. Josephine Foster, Board of Education
Brent Fox, Board of Education
Gary Lail, Board of Education
Derek Latham, Board of Education
Jim Lowe, Board of Education
Craig Mayberry, Board of Education
MEDIA: Micah Henry, The Taylorsville Times

 

On Saturday, February 2, 2002, the Alexander County Board of Commissioners met in the Hiddenite Room at the Hidden Crystal Inn in Hiddenite, North Carolina to continue the 2002 Retreat.

EDUCATION UPDATE

Dale Clary, Board of Education Chairman, gave opening comments and conveyed his appreciation to all present for the efforts to take another step forward for education.

Facilities Update

Jack Hoke, Superintendent, began the education report with a facilities update which included the following projects. Photographs were also provided.

Alexander Central High School: The ACHS project is complete except for several punch line items that the general contractor is scheduled to complete. The permanent Certificate of Occupancy was issued on December 11, 2001. Mr. Hoke gave a special thanks to the Planning & Inspection Department for their hard work and cooperation.

Mr. Hoke stated that there were some future plans to pave the rest of the parking lot paved at ACHS and redo the rest rooms in the lobby with contingency money. Mr. Clary agreed and stated that the restrooms and the lobby needed to be gutted and renovated to provide handicapped accessibility.

Ellendale Elementary School: Mr. Hoke discussed the construction of the new Ellendale Elementary School and noted that he was very pleased with the grand entrance of the school. The roof is almost complete and the oil tank has been put in. Mr. Hoke stated that the completion date was scheduled for May 15, 2002 and felt that this project was something that the community could be proud of.

Central Park: Mr. Hoke discussed the construction of the press box at Central Park and noted that the vocational classes at ACHS had constructed the press box. Mr. Hoke informed the Board that lockers had been donated by Alcatel.

Personnel

Mr. Hoke explained that on January 8, 2002, President Bush passed a requirement that all Title 1 school’s teacher assistants have 2-year degree. Those already employed as assistants must acquire the 2-year degree within a 4-year period. Mr. Hoke discussed the possibility of paying teacher assistants more if they are required to get a degree.

Commissioner Watts asked if CVCC had courses available to earn a 2-year teaching degree. Commissioner Watts suggested looking into the courses at CVCC and possibly making courses available, if not already, so that citizens would not be forced to travel out of the county to earn their degree.

Commissioner Watts felt that lowering class size was a good idea but noted that doing so may cause the need for more classrooms and more teachers. Commissioner Watts felt that it may be necessary to speak with Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael E. Ward to make him aware of this matter.

Mr. Hoke reported that teacher supplements for Alexander County had gone from 1% to 3 % in 1999 making us competitive with Wilkes, Caldwell, and Iredell Counties. Mr. Hoke also reported that NC hired about 9,000 teachers per year but noted that only 3,000 teachers were produced in NC colleges and universities meaning that 2/3 of the teaching population is recruited from other states. Mr. Hoke explained that some states such as Pennsylvania and New York required that teachers have 2 or 3 years of experience. Those teachers come here to get such teaching experience. Mr. Hoke noted that NC retained a lot of those teachers.

Commissioner Watts asked if retired teachers were kept informed of ongoing projects. Mr. Hoke responded that the retired teachers have a monthly meeting in order to keep informed and up-to-date on things going on in the school system.

Mr. Hoke informed the Board that Blake Jones, Taylorsville Elementary School Principal, would retire the last day of March.

System Grades

Mr. Hoke gave an update of the student performance and dropout information. Detailed information was provided to the Board which included many bar charts showing the performance for each school in Alexander County.

Dr. Jo Foster, Board of Education, stated that a lot of declining grades could be found in courses such as US History.

Mr. Hoke reported that 2000-2001 indicated a 3.71% dropout rate which equaled a total of 90 students in grades 7-12. This rate shows a decline from 4.53% in the previous year. Dr. Foster noted that this was the first year that the dropout rate for Alexander County was lower than the State average, which was 3.86%

Commissioner Odom asked if any of the scores provided for information included vocational scores. Dr. Foster replied that the State did not include vocational scores but noted that it was possible that vocational scores would be included in the future.

Commissioner Odom suggested a parental help line for homework help.

Catawba Valley Community College

Mr. Hoke discussed a joint planning grant which partners Alexander County Schools with CVCC. The $70,000 grant from the Golden Leaf Foundation will be used for the "Homegrown Teachers" program. A prospective teacher from the county would complete high school and have 2 years of tuition paid for at CVCC. Appalachian State or other 4-year colleges would be the next step for the teacher candidate.

Mr. Hoke also discussed dual enrollment for 2001-2002. The total for the first semester was 52 students and second semester totaled 42 students totaling 94 students.

Mr. Hoke noted that the new CVCC building should be open in December 2002. Mr. Hoke also mentioned the multipurpose room and stated that he looked forward to working out a joint schedule for use of the room.

Future Facility Needs

Mr. Hoke discussed the future facility needs for Alexander County Schools and stated that the Board of Education could commit $11 or $12 million from their cent sales tax which could be done in 2 phases.

Mr. Hoke presented a facility funding sheet which illustrated the amount of funding over the next 10 years including cent sales tax, ACHS loan monies, Ellendale loan monies, etc.

Mr. Hoke discussed the needs at the middle schools and stated that each middle school needed 10 additional classrooms to each to get them to an 800 student capacity.

Mr. Hoke also discussed additions at the Central Office on Liledoun Road in order to dispose of the mobile units. Mr. Hoke noted that this was a major need. Mr. Hoke met with the architect, Atilla Orkan, on Tuesday, January 29, 2002 to discuss the additions.

Mr. Hoke discussed the space issues at the elementary schools and noted that Hiddenite and Bethlehem Elementary Schools were at full capacity. Bethlehem is exceeding its population and is land locked. Sugar Loaf Elementary School’s capacity was higher this year without the 6th grade students.

Commissioner Odom asked if there had been any consideration given to the growth at Taylorsville Elementary School due to economic development. Mr. Hoke stated that that Taylorsville Elementary School still had plenty of room.

Chairman Harbinson explained that the State had given counties a cent local option sales tax to replace the inventory tax reimbursements and noted that Alexander County would gain $303,000 if the option were enacted. Chairman Harbinson stated that it was possible that the Board would allow a portion of those monies to be used towards school construction projects but noted that it would need to be discussed further.

Commissioner Hammer stated that the county desperately needed an auditorium and felt that funding this project could be a joint effort between the county, school system, town, and the general community. Commissioner Hammer stated that he had spoken with Lenny Rogers, Cooperative Extension Director, who would be willing to help raise funds from the community. Commissioner Hammer stated that he would like to see staff start planning for this project as well as looking at costs.

Mr. Hoke stated that an auditorium was recently built in Lincolnton and noted that he could contact the architect for the project. Mr. Hoke felt that Alexander County would need a seating capacity of 800.

Old Wittenburg School

Brent Fox, Board of Education, discussed Old Wittenburg School and stated that the Board of Education was waiting from an offer from the Board of Commissioners for either the purchase or lease of the facility.

Mr. Fox stated that they had the property appraised. The building and 7.828 acres were appraised at $189,000. Mr. Hoke stated that the building needed some work and noted that there was a leak in the roof of the cafeteria. Mr. Hoke felt that the building would need to be re-roofed.

Mr. Hoke noted that the school system currently used part of the building for the alternative program and stated that they would like to continue to do so. Mr. Hoke stated that they were willing to work with the Board of Commissioners on this issue.

Rick French, County Manager, suggested a lease agreement between the county and school system with maintenance on the building provided by the county.

The Board of Commissioners agreed to discuss this issue further at the March 5, 2002 Commissioners’ Meeting.

CLOSING COMMENTS

Mr. Hoke conveyed his appreciation to the Board of Commissioners for their cooperation with school projects. The Board of Commissioners thanked Mr. Hoke, the Board of Education, and staff for their cooperation as well.

Commissioner Watts felt that both boards made a lot of progress through the retreat meetings and were able to put a lot of projects in focus for the future.

Commissioner Robertson asked if the Board of Education had discussed re-establishing the Blue Ribbon Committee. Brent Fox, Board of Education, stated that re-establishing the committee was a possibility in the future.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business, the Annual Retreat was adjourned at 10:20 AM.

 

                                                        _____________________________

 Joel C. Harbinson, Chairman     Jamie C. Millsaps, Clerk to the Board