September 10, 2002
The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held its regular meeting on Tuesday, September 10, 2002 in the Commissioners Room of the Alexander County Courthouse, Taylorsville, North Carolina.
Wendell Kirkham, Soil & Water Conservation Board Treasurer, stated that the Soil & Water Conservation Board had submitted an application to the Carolina Land & Lakes RC&D for a proposed groundwater study for Alexander County. The Carolina Land & Lakes RC&D met on Wednesday, September 4, 2002 and approved the proposal. Mr. Kirkham explained that the Soil & Water Conservation Board felt a need for a detailed groundwater study due to the fact that Alexander County had no inventory of existing wells or information regarding the depth and yield of those wells. Mr. Kirkham also discussed the drought situation and stated that Alexander County was 53 inches short in normal rainfall in the last 4 years. Mr. Kirkham stated that wells, streams, and ponds were going dry which affected farming operations. Mr. Kirkham stated that the groundwater study would also show how much the water table has dropped. Mr. Kirkham stated that the Soil & Water Conservation Board had asked the Carolina Land & Lakes RC&D to look into the possibility of grant funding for the study. Mr. Kirkham also explained that the study would be formatted to fit the GIS system so that all citizens could have access to the information from the study once completed. Commissioner Watts was pleased with the fact that the information would be formatted to be added to the GIS system and also suggested that the data collected from the study be shared with the Health Department and the Planning & Development Department.
At this time, Commissioner Hammer entered the meeting. The time was 6:54 PM.
Denny Martin, McGill Associates, discussed the capacity building project grant application that was submitted to the Rural Center in April 2002. Mr. Martin stated that official notification had been received that Alexander County would be receiving the $40,000 grant for a feasibility study for the sewer system in the Bethlehem area and noted that a contract would be received soon. Commissioner Watts inquired about the timeline for the project. Mr. Martin replied that the feasibility study would be completed in 4 to 6 months. Mr. Martin also mentioned that the Rural Center had unsewered area grants totaling up to $3 million (with 10% match) which were available as well and suggested that the Board submit the application for the unsewered area grant in April 2003. Mr. Martin felt that it was very likely that Alexander County would receive the unsewered area grant. Commissioner Hammer asked when construction could begin if the unsewered area grant was received. Mr. Martin replied that if the application was submitted in April 2003 and funding was received, it would take approximately 6-8 months for design work and approximately 18 months for construction. Commissioner Robertson asked if the Rural Center Funds were federal or state funds. Mr. Martin replied that the Rural Center Funds were state funds from the 1998 Clean Water bond referendum. Commissioner Harbinson asked if any other county in NC had received such a grant. Mr. Martin replied that most counties were not eligible for this grant because of their population size.
Russell Greene, Fire Marshal, quoted an excerpt from the fall edition of the NC Fire and Rescue Journal which stated that fire remained the 5th leading cause of death of children ages 5-14 in the nation; however, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death of children in NC. Mr. Greene stated that a major factor in the high death and injury rate was misuse or nonuse of child restraints and noted that permanent fitting and checking stations for car seats were being established across the state in an effort to educate parents and caregivers and provide a safer ride for children. Mr. Greene informed the Board that Alexander County had been awarded a $5,000 grant by the NC Governors Highway Safety Program and the NC Safe Kids Buckle Up Program to be used to establish a permanent fitting station which would be located at the local Taylorsville EMS base. Mr. Greene stated that the funds would be used to purchase car seats, a trailer to store the car seats, popup shelters, and signs for the fitting station and noted that training for EMS employees would begin around the end of September. Mr. Greene also stated that the county already had a permanent fitting station at the Partnership for Children Office and noted that staff hoped to have another fitting station at the Bethlehem EMS base in the future.
CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Odom called the meeting to order at 7:06 PM.
INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Sam Valeni, Pastor at Freedom Baptist Church, gave the invocation and the NJROTC from Alexander Center High School led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
Chairman Odom recognized Rick French, County Manager, for an update on the State budget.
Mr. French reported that staff had received word that the State budget would possibly be finalized as early as Friday, September 13, 2002 or Saturday, September 14, 2002 and would not include any inventory tax reimbursements or sales tax options for counties and municipalities. Mr. French stated that this meant that counties, cities, and towns would be out over $330 million statewide in funding with no alternate source of revenue provided at this time. Mr. French also noted that some counties (not Alexander, however) had budgeted the reimbursements or sales tax in the 2002-2003 budget.
Mr. French distributed a letter for all Board members to sign that would be sent to all State Senate and House members working on the State budget committee urging them to reconsider the sales tax option.
Commissioner Robertson mentioned that Cabarrus, Alamance, and Stokes Counties were in the process of filing suit against the State and instructed Mr. French to contact those counties to get the basis of the lawsuit so that the Board could consider possibly joining the action. The Board agreed.
ADOPTION OF AGENDA
Chairman Odom asked for any amendments to the agenda. Mr. French asked that Budget Amendment #4 be added to the Consent Agenda. Commissioner Robertson suggested a second meeting in September to consider whether Alexander County would be declared a single county or part of the area program for mental health. Commissioner Robertson stated this would need to be considered before October 1, 2002. The Board agreed to hold a second meeting on September 24, 2002 at 7:00 PM in the Commissioners Room.
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: ALEXANDER COUNTY SCHOOLS PROJECT
Jennifer Herman, Budget Officer, gave an update on the financing of Phase 2 of the construction projects for Alexander County Schools and reiterated that Alexander County would be borrowing $3.85 million against restricted sales tax revenues from Wachovia Bank for the school system. Ms. Herman distributed a packet from Wachovia Bank which included an Installment Financing Agreement, a Deed of Trust, a Lease Agreement, a Construction and Acquisition Agreement, and also a resolution to be approved by the Board to authorize these documents.
Ms. Herman stated that the Local Government Commission (LGC) had received all of the debt application except for the County Attorneys opinion letter and the Publishers Affidavit for the Notice of Public Hearing. Ms. Herman stated that she had been informed by Wachovia representatives that there had been no change with the 4.05% interest rate and noted that once the agreements and resolution were executed tonight, the Wachovia representative would contact the LGC and make sure they would approve the financing. Ms. Herman also noted that if the LGC gave Wachovia permission, they would meet with county staff and guarantee a rate for the loan.
Ms. Herman stated that the Board of Education was holding a meeting tonight as well and would consider a resolution to request Alexander County to provide financing for the Phase 2 construction projects which would also be forwarded to the LGC once approved.
Chairman Odom called the public hearing to order and requested any public comment. There being no public comment, Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to close the public hearing. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Watts made a motion to approve the Resolution Authorizing the Execution and Delivery of an Installment Financing Agreement, a Deed of Trust, a Construction and Acquisition Agreement, a Lease Agreement, and Related Documents in Connection with an Installment Financing for School Improvements. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
CONSIDERATION OF LEASE FOR THE ALEXANDER ANIMAL ACTION LEAGE
Rick French, County Manager, presented a one-year agreement between Alexander County and the Alexander Animal Action League which outlined that the county would own the new animal shelter and the AAAL volunteers would operate the facility, water and feed the animals, and handle adoptions and general maintenance and care of the animals and housing. Mr. French explained that the county would provide $8,000 per year or $2,000 quarterly for supplies and would also receive the pick up fees. Mr. French stated that the AAAL would receive the adoption and boarding fees. Mr. French also noted that the agreement stated that both parties would meet on a quarterly basis to discuss all items of operation.
Mr. French informed the Board that there was still some work to be completed at the new shelter which included some office space and a cat room.
Mr. French noted that there still a few minor changes that needed to be made to the agreement but suggested that the Board move forward with the adoption of the agreement tonight making the agreement effective October 1, 2002. Mr. French also noted that the Board needed to schedule a date for the opening ceremony for the facility.
Phil Thompson, AAAL President, thanked the Board of Commissioners for recognizing the need for a new animal shelter and thanked Rick French, County Manager, and Leeanne Whisnant, Health Director, for working directly with the AAAL to develop an agreement. Mr. Thompson addressed the issue with the cat room and explained that included in the $57,000 that the AAAL presented to the county for construction cost was a $5,000 grant for the cat room. Mr. Thompson stated that the fact that there was currently no cat room made the AAAL in violation of the grant. Mr. Thompson suggested a small building adjacent to the shelter for the cat room if financially possible. Mr. Thompson stated that he would like to have the agreement executed as soon as possible and requested the Boards approval to go ahead and move the animals into the shelter before October 1, 2002. Mr. French stated that something could probably be arranged within a couple of weeks.
Mr. Thompson also gave an update on AAAL activities since January 2002 which included 193 adoptions and 122 animals spayed or neutered. Mr. Thompson stated that all animals adopted by citizens were spayed or neutered and explained that if the animal was too young to spay or neuter, the citizen would be given a voucher to bring the animal back in later to have it spayed or neutered free of charge.
Mr. Thompson introduced the members of the AAAL that were present at the meeting which included:
Mr. Thompson also introduced Dr. David Linzey, former AAAL member, and stated that Dr. Linzey worked for many years on the animal shelter project.
Commissioner Harbinson asked what the estimated savings to the county would be if the agreement with the AAAL was successful. Mr. French replied that the savings to the county would total $5,000 to $10,000 per year in the beginning due to the savings in supplies and overtime pay. Commissioner Harbinson also asked if the AAAL would be required to meet all federal, state, and local regulations. Mr. French replied that the AAAL would be required to meet those regulations.
Leeanne Whisnant, Health Director, commended the volunteers and members of the AAAL for their hard work and efforts made to make this agreement work successfully. Ms. Whisnant stated that the volunteers were very dedicated. Commissioner Hammer commended Dr. Linzey for his work on getting the animal shelter project started many years ago.
Commissioner Watts made a motion to adopt the Agreement Between Alexander County and the Alexander Animal Action League to be ratified at the September 24, 2002 Commissioners Meeting due to some minor changes that need to be made to the agreement. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Harbinson inquired about the contest to name the road leading to the new animal shelter. Mr. Thompson stated that a name had been chosen and the AAAL was waiting for the county to check for duplicates and allow them to proceed with the road naming. Ms. Whisnant noted that the proposed name for the road was 116 Waggin Trail.
HEALTH DEPARTMENT UPDATE
Leeanne Whisnant, Health Director, gave and update on the West Nile Virus and explained that the virus, which is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, could infect horses, birds, and other animals. Ms. Whisnant stated that most people who are infected with the virus have no symptoms or mild ones. On rare occasions, the virus can result in severe or fatal illness due to inflammation of the brain. Ms. Whisnant stated that the risk of severe or fatal illness was higher for people 50 years or older. Ms. Whisnant noted that there was an incubation period of 5 to 15 days with a sudden onset of symptoms including fever, headache, body aches, skin rashes, and swollen lymph glands and in severe cases disorientation, coma, tremors, and paralysis could occur. Ms. Whisnant stated that there was no vaccine for the virus but noted that there was no evidence that the virus could be spread from person to person.
Ms. Whisnant stated that the Health Department had received several birds, mostly bluejays, that were positive for the West Nile Virus but had not had any humans that were positive for the virus.
Ms. Whisnant stated that staff was working to educate the public on prevention and reduction of mosquito bites by urging the public to do the following:
Ms. Whisnant also reviewed the requirements for submitting birds for testing which included:
Ms. Whisnant stated that humans could not catch the virus from handling the bird and also mentioned that testing was only available for birds found in NC. Ms. Whisnant stated that the Health Department would only accept birds that were found in NC, has been deceased for less than 36 hours, did not have an odor, and were whole birds.
Ms. Whisnant informed the Board that the Health Department would have a booth at the fair to educate the public on the West Nile Virus. Chairman Odom suggested that Ms. Whisnant be a guest on "What Do You Think" as well to discuss the West Nile Virus.
REPORT ON STATE EMS PLAN
Nolan Jarvis, EMS Director, discussed the new system regulations from the State and new rules for EMS systems by the Medical Care Commission and the NC Medical Board. Mr. Jarvis informed the Board that the new regulations went into effect on January 1, 2002 and counties were given one year to come into compliance and submit applications. However, the States final version of the new protocols and procedures were released on July 25, 2002 which means that counties have not had a full year to comply.
Mr. Jarvis stated that training for the new protocols has begun for EMS personnel and would be ongoing. Mr. Jarvis stated that the new Continuing Education Standards had not been issued yet for paramedics but noted that staff had been told to look at the national standards. Mr. Jarvis stated that the Quality Management Committee (or Medical Oversight Committee) had met to consider the bylaws to cover the items that the county was required to have written guidelines on. Mr. Jarvis also reported that the software vendor for EMS was researching what type of software would be needed when the new system was implemented in order to transfer information to the State.
Mr. Jarvis explained that with the new protocols, the county would be required to establish training standards for first responders. A meeting will be held on September 23, 2002 with Alexander County Fire Chiefs to discuss this issue. Mr. Jarvis stated that staff also planned to meet with the first responders after the meeting on September 23, 2002 to also receive their input on developing these standards. Mr. Jarvis also mentioned that the county would be required to carry some new drugs on the ambulance units and well as some new minor equipment which staff is holding off on purchasing until approval for the new system plan is received.
Commissioner Watts asked if Mr. Jarvis had a list of the potential medications that would be required. Mr. Jarvis stated that he did not have a list with him but noted that he would get a list to Commissioner Watts at a later date.
Mr. Jarvis noted that there would probably be an extension in the time limit to comply; however, no official documentation has been received as of yet. Mr. Jarvis stated that Burke and New Hanover Counties had already submitted their plans.
Mr. Jarvis stated that the county had the option to choose which system to operate by including a base line system that included the minimum requirements for all counties and the high-level model system. Mr. Jarvis stated that Alexander County already had several of the qualifications in place for the high-level model system including an operational emergency medical dispatch program, an enhanced 911 system, and affiliation with a trauma center (Baptist and Carolinas Medical Center).
Chairman Odom stated that he was pleased that the fire chiefs, rescue squad, and first responders were being included in this since they also respond to emergency calls. Chairman Odom also thanked Leah Jarvis for organizing the EMS Appreciation Day on August 31, 2002.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT UPDATE
Keith Hertzler, Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development Director, gave an update on Economic Development which included the following:
CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTIONS
The following resolutions were considered:
Resolution in Support of the Pledge of Allegiance
David Icenhour, Human Resources/Public Information Director, presented the Resolution in Support of the Pledge of Allegiance which supported the overturning of the ruling that the phrase "under God" is unconstitutional, encouraged the Superintendent of Alexander County Schools to continue to provide the opportunity for school children to express their respect for tradition and recite the Pledge of Allegiance with the phrase "under God", and ask all members of the US Congress and NC State Legislature to defend the Pledge of Allegiance and the constitutional phrase "under God."
Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to approve the Resolution in Support of the Pledge of Allegiance. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Resolution Declaring September 11, 2002 as Patriot Day
Mr. Icenhour presented the Resolution Declaring September 11, 2002 as Patriot Day in honor of the individuals that lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks against the United States that occurred on September 11, 2001. The resolution also declared that Alexander County would display the United States flag at half-staff on Patriot Day.
Commissioner Hammer made a motion to approve the Resolution Declaring September 11, 2002 as Patriot Day. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Resolution Declaring September 17, 2002 as National Guard Day
Chairman Odom presented the Resolution Declaring September 17, 2002 as National Guard Day in Support of the NC National Guard 505th Engineer Battalions Defense of the US Constitution which supported the deployment of the 505th Engineer Battalion and Operation Noble Eagle.
Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to approve the Resolution Declaring September 17, 2002 as National Guard Day in Support of the NC National Guard 505th Engineer Battalions Defense of the US Constitution. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Chairman Odom noted that he and Commissioner Hammer had attended the deployment ceremony in Wilkes County and had their photo made with the 505th Engineer Battalion. Chairman Odom stated that he would like to make the photo available to any of the service members families.
Commissioner Hammer stated that it was a privilege to attend the deployment ceremony and encourage all citizens and churches to write to these service members to keep their spirits up and let them know that they are supported.
The following items were discussed during Other Business:
Russell Greene, Fire Marshal, stated that the line would be designed to meet EnergyUniteds water line which was approximately 2,000 feet short of Old Landfill Road. Mr. French noted that he had spoken with Rod Watts, EnergyUnited General Manager, who informed Mr. French that EnergyUnited would do the remainder of the work for the line which was not covered by the ARC funds which totaled approximately $183,000. Mr. Greene explained that ARC funds would only be enough funding for 6,700 feet of water line. Mr. French stated that this line would be a great asset to EnergyUnited and would give them a great source of water in the middle of their system.
Mr. Greene stated that the project had not been approved by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources; therefore, the Boards approval would need to be contingent on approval from DENR. Mr. French noted that if the Board approved the project, construction could begin in October. Mr. French stated that staff should receive a contract on Thursday.
Commissioner Robertson made a motion to approve the bid of $248,656.53 received from Neil Grading and Construction Company for the Millersville Road water line project and to construct the water line extension as far as ARC funds would allow. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Hammer made a motion to adopt the Consent Agenda. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
CLOSED SESSION N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5) CONTRACTUAL
Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to enter into Closed Session at 8:30 PM to discuss contractual matters pursuant to N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5). Commissioner Watts 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 8:45 PM. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
David S. Odom, Chairman Jamie C. Millsaps, Clerk to the Board