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BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS 

ALEXANDER COUNTY

REGULAR MEETING

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA

January 5, 2004

PRESENT: W. Norris Keever, Chairman
William L. Hammer, Vice-Chairman
Wesley E. Bolick
Joel C. Harbinson
W. Darrell Robertson
STAFF: Rick French, County Manager
Jamie Millsaps, Clerk to the Board
David Icenhour, Human Resources Director
MEDIA: Gary Herman, The Taylorsville Times
Norris Keever, WACB Radio

 

The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held its regular meeting on Monday, January 5, 2004 in the Catawba Valley Community College / Alexander Center Multipurpose Room, Taylorsville, North Carolina.

CALL TO ORDER

Chairman Keever called the meeting to order at 6:00 PM.

INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

Rev. Eddie Shumate, Pastor of Dover Baptist Church, gave the invocation and Camille Hefner, student at West Alexander Middle School, led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

***SPECIAL RECOGNITIONS***

Alan Mackie, NC Employment Security Commission, recognized Dana Robertson for 20 years of service.  Mr. Mackie stated that Ms. Robertson had been an employee of the Alexander County ESC branch for most of those 20 years.  Mr. Mackie stated that Ms. Robertson did a great job and was steadfast in her performance and duties and he thanked her for service to the citizens.

Dennis Wahlers, Forest Ranger, recognized Frank Durmire for his service to the citizens of Alexander County.  Mr. Wahlers stated that Mr. Durmire had been involved with the Forest Service for 15 years and he noted that Mr. Durmire was a tremendous help to him 4 years ago when he became Forest Ranger.  Mr. Wahlers also noted that Mr. Durmire had been a member of the Volunteer Fire Department for 31 years.  

ADOPTION OF AGENDA

Chairman Robertson presented several amendments to the agenda including discussion of the recognition of Robert E. Lee’s birthday, consideration of a resolution of support to have the Department of the Navy reconsider its location of an outlying landing field in Washington County, as well as some adjustments to the tax release requests and tax refund request for December during the Consent Agenda.

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

PUBLIC SAFETY GRANTS

Chairman Keever presented the following Public Safety Grant Awards:

Alexander Fireman’s Association – Safety lighting for mobile air support unit.  County grant $1,000.

Bethlehem Volunteer Fire Department – Purchase 2 sets of turnout gear.  County grant $1,000.

Ellendale Volunteer Fire Department – Purchase 2 sets of turnout gear.  County grant $1,000.

Hiddenite Volunteer Fire Department – Purchase 3 sets of turnout gear.  County grant $1,000

Gwaltney Volunteer Fire Department – Gwaltney Fire Department building.  County grant $1,000.

Stony Point Volunteer Fire Department – Replace booster tank on fire truck.  County grant $1,000

Sugar Loaf Volunteer Fire Department – Automatic Electronic Defibrillator.  County grant $1,000.

Taylorsville Volunteer Fire Department – Audio / visual training equipment.  County grant $1,000.

Vashti Volunteer Fire Department – Equipment for first responder / brush truck.  County grant $1,000.

Wittenburg Volunteer Fire Department – Replace 5 mobile radios and base unit.  County grant $1,000.

Alexander Rescue Squad – Medical / first-aid bags and supplies.  County grant $1,000.

Alexander County Crimestoppers – Purchase 5 taser stun guns for Sheriff’s Department / Taylorsville Police Department.  County grant $1,000.

Alexander County Partnership for Children – Expand Car Seat Safety Program.  County grant $1,000.

Catawba Valley Red Cross – CPR course equipment and disaster shelter kits.  County grant $1,000.

Little River Ruritan – Firing range safety construction.  County grant $500.

Taylorsville Lions Club – Fairgrounds grading.  County grant $1,000.

Chairman Keever stated that 16 applications had been received and he noted that all 16 had been funded.  Chairman Keever also mentioned that these projects would total $138,000 in materials and labor and would include 1,500 volunteer hours.

REPORT ON THE COMMUNITY CHILD PROTECTION TEAM

Kaye Greene, Family Services Supervisor, stated that the Community Child Protection Team was established by law as a means for the state and local communities to form a partnership to strengthen child protection.  Ms. Greene explained that the team was an interdisciplinary group of community representatives who met bi-monthly to promote a community-wide approach to the problem of child abuse and neglect.

Ms. Greene informed the Board that the categories of cases reviewed by the team were based on local need and she noted that cases were required to include children known to be at higher risk of subsequent injury or death as a result of child abuse, neglect, or dependency.   She noted that the County had chosen to review the following:

        Substantiated cases of abuse, including sexual abuse.

        Child fatalities.

        Reports of abuse or neglect of children under the age of one, especially when the report was made by a medical provider.

        Cases in which there have been 2 substantiated reports within one year, regardless of the type of report or referral source.

        Cases in which there have been 2 reports within a 3 month period.

Ms. Greene stated that during calendar year 2003 through November 30th, the department received 470 reports alleging abuse and neglect of children.  Of these reports, 314 were accepted for investigation.  The numbers show an 8% increase in the number of reports and an 8.9% increase in investigations as compared to 2002.  Ms. Greene stated that due to the continued increase, the county had authorized the hiring of a third protective service investigator that would enable the department to again be in compliance with the state recommended number of investigations per worker.

Ms. Greene stated that 13 cases were reviewed by the Child Protection Team during 2003 and she noted that there was an increase in the cases that came to the department’s attention due to drug/alcohol abuse.  Ms. Greene also mentioned that a secondary factor noted was an increase in domestic violence.  Ms. Greene stated that during 2002, a contributing factor appeared to be the lack of adequate parenting skills and she noted that sufficient mental health resources continued to be a problem.  During 2003, a part-time parenting instructor was employed and the first series of classes were completed in December 2003 with a second series scheduled to begin in early January 2004.  Ms. Greene reported that the state was in the process of implementing policy regarding domestic violence issues, which would help address the increasing need for services in that area.  

Ms. Greene stated that the Alexander County Department of Social Services was selected to become a Multiple Response System county in 2003.  This system is more family centered and is designed to include families in identifying needs and decision making concerning their family.  It also focuses on the community working together to assist families.  Ms. Greene stated that extensive training was being provided by the state for staff that would be implementing MRS.

Commissioner Robertson asked if Foothills Mental Health was aware of the needs of the Child Protection Team and he suggested that, if not, they be made aware of those needs.   Ms. Greene agreed.

REPORT ON THE FATALITY REVIEW TEAM

Leeanne Whisnant, Health Director, stated that the Child Fatality Prevention Team served 3 purposes including:

1.        Identifing deficiencies in the delivery of services to children and families by public agencies.

2.        Making and carrying out recommendations for changes that will prevent future child deaths.

3.        Promoting understanding of the causes of child deaths.

Ms. Whisnant stated that all deaths of children under the age of 18 were reviewed by the County, irregardless of the cause of death.  Ms. Whisnant stated that there were 4 child deaths in 2003 including 2 perinatal disorders, one suicide, and one drowning.  Ms. Whisnant also reported that there were 3 child deaths in 2002 and 4 child deaths in 2001.

Ms. Whisnant stated that action steps taken to prevent child fatalities in 2003 included newspaper articles on summer water safety and bicycle safety, safety education provided to all children over 2 years old in licensed daycare centers and homes, and car seats provided and inspected by the Alexander County Partnership for Children.  Ms. Whisnant also stated that plans were to distribute bicycle helmets in the upcoming spring event.

Chairman Keever asked Ms. Whisnant how Alexander County compared to other surrounding counties.   Ms. Whisnant replied that Alexander County was rated lower in child deaths than most counties.

NEW LAW FOR DNA TECHNOLOGY

Sheriff Hayden Bentley discussed the passage of House Bill 79, which would allow law enforcement to take DNA samples from all convicted felons to greatly enhance the chances of catching criminals using the DNA database.  Sheriff Bentley stated that this law became effective December 1, 2003.

Sheriff Bentley discussed a recent case in NC that demonstrated how powerful and effective DNA technology could be for law enforcement.  In the spring of 2002, a west Durham neighborhood was being terrorized by a serial rapist who would break into homes and brutally attack the victims.  Local investigators developed several suspects, but the SBI laboratory eliminated them upon the DNA analysis of the evidence from these cases.  The DNA profile was then checked against the SBI’s DNA database and a match was made to a convicted rapist living in Durham who was released from prison only months before the rapes occurred.  Sheriff Bentley informed the Board that this man was convicted and sentenced to 95 years for the Durham rapes.

Sheriff Bentley stated that the SBI would provide Sheriff’s Offices across the state with the necessary DNA database blood collection kits.  Sheriff Bentley mentioned that all convicted felony offenders who were currently confined or were sent to the NC Department of Correction would have a DNA sample drawn to be sent to the SBI lab for processing and he noted that all convicted felons who were not committed to a state correctional institution, but who served their sentence in the county jail or who were given probation, were required to have a DNA sample drawn.   Sheriff Bentley informed the Board that Leeanne Whisnant, Health Director, had agreed to allow her staff to draw the DNA samples at no charge.

Sheriff Bentley informed the Board that training sessions would be held on this new law, one in Smithfield at the Sheriff’s Association Fall Conference and one in Morganton at Western Piedmont Community College.

Commissioner Robertson asked if Alexander County would be able to access DNA information from other states and municipalities.  Sheriff Bentley replied that Alexander County would eventually be able to access information from other states and municipalities once the process was completed.

Commissioner Harbinson mentioned a man in Winston-Salem that served 18 years in prison before he was found to be innocent.  Commissioner Harbinson felt that DNA testing would ensure that these types of incidents did not occur.

DATA SHARING TECHNOLOGY THROUGH OSSI

Sheriff Hayden Bentley submitted a request to join Wilkes County in a collaborative grant request to be submitted to the Governor’s Crime Commission to obtain data sharing technology.  Sheriff Bentley stated that there were currently over 50 Sheriff’s Offices and Police Departments in NC successfully using this technology and he noted that it was anticipated that over 100 NC public safety departments would be using this technology by the end of 2004.

Sheriff Bentley felt that sharing access to Records Management Systems with Wilkes County would assist the Sheriff’s Department in performing duties better and faster.  Sheriff Bentley mentioned that if approved, each member of the Sheriff’s Department would have secure Internet access to the technology.

Sheriff Bentley explained that the Governor’s Crime Commission was expected to fund 75% of the cost for 2 years.  Therefore, each public safety agency would be required to make a 25% match.  Grant funds are expected in July 2004 if the grant request is successful.   Sheriff Bentley discussed the specific funding for the grant, which included:

                        Year 1

                        Governor’s Crime Commission              $6,532.50

                        Alexander Sheriff’s Department              $2,177.50

                        Year 2

                        Governor’s Crime Commission              $2,407.50

                        Alexander Sheriff’s Department              $   802.50

Sheriff Bentley stated that Dane Mastin, Wilkes County Sheriff, had requested written authorization from the County Manager by January 16, 2004 if Alexander County wished to join Wilkes County in the grant.

Commissioner Robertson asked if surrounding counties were also considering this grant.   Sheriff Bentley stated that he was aware that Caldwell and Catawba were considering the grant as well. 

Commissioner Bolick suggested investigating Homeland Security grants to determine if the County could apply for a grant to cover the County’s cost for this project.  Sheriff Bentley stated that he could research those grants.

Commissioner Robertson inquired about the County’s cost after the 2nd year.   Sheriff Bentley stated that he did not have a set amount but he noted that he was certain that it would be less than the 2nd year cost.

Commissioner Robertson made a motion to allow Sheriff Bentley to proceed with the collaborative grant to be submitted to the Governor’s Crime Commission to obtain data sharing technology.  Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

NEW DOMESTICE VIOLENCE GUN LAW

Sheriff Hayden Bentley informed the Board that effective December 1, 2003 judges could order for guns to be taken from individuals involved in domestic violence cases.  Sheriff Bentley explained that once the order was served, Sheriff’s deputies would seize the guns from the individual and store them at the Sheriff’s Office.  Sheriff Bentley stated that staff had cleaned out the evidence room to allow for more storage for these weapons.

Sheriff Bentley stated that the Sheriff’s Department could charge a fee per gun per day; however, he noted that most counties had not implemented a fee since there was no way to determine the volume of the gun seizures at this time.  Sheriff Bentley stated that he hoped that the guns would be destroyed, sold, or returned to the owner quickly after their cases was resolved.

Chairman Keever mentioned that a house bill was in the works to make this law mandatory.   Sheriff Bentley stated that this was correct.

PATROL CAR VIDEO EQUIPMENT GRANT (GOVERNMENT CRIME COMMISSION)

Sheriff Hayden Bentley requested approval to apply for a grant for 5 video units for patrol cars through the Government Crime Commission.  Sheriff Bentley felt that these cameras would be beneficial when prosecuting case and reviewing accidents or domestic violence cases at residences, etc.  Sheriff Bentley also noted that these cameras would also make the officers safer.

Sheriff Bentley informed the Board that there were currently 3 video units in patrol cars and he explained that the cameras automatically came on when the blue lights were turned on.   Sheriff Bentley also stated that officers currently wore a microphone on their uniforms as well to provide another source of proof if needed.

Sheriff Bentley stated that the total cost for the video units and installation was $18,250.   However, he explained that the 75% federal share totaled $13,687.50 leaving the County with a 25% share of $4,562.50.

Commissioner Harbinson agreed that the video units were an asset in cases of confrontations and accusations of police brutality because the proof was there on video and audio tape.

Commissioner Robertson asked if Alexander County could possibly partner with another county or counties in order to get a discounted price for the video units.  Sheriff Bentley replied that he was not sure if that would be possible but he noted that he would research the matter.

Chairman Keever asked when results would be received from the grant application.  Sheriff Bentley replied that staff should receive word in April or May 2004.

Commissioner Hammer stated that he was aware that new equipment was needed; however, he felt that combining the Sheriff’s Department and 911 Communications should be top priority.   Commissioner Hammer stated that if all 3 of the Sheriff’s request were approved tonight, it would total over $15,000, which he felt was funding that could be placed toward the combining of communications.

Rick French, County Manager, informed the Board that the funding for the grant could be encumbered during the current budget.

Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to approve grant application request. 

Commissioner Keever requested an amendment to Commissioner Harbinson’s motion to include that the funding would be encumbered from the current budget.  Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to accept the amendment.  Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to approve the grant application request and to allow funding to be encumbered from the current budget.  Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

Commissioner Robertson mentioned that there was $4,500 left in the public safety grants that could be used to offset some of the cost for this project.

PATROL CAR LAPTOP COMPUTER AND RADIO MODEM GRANT (GOVERNMENT CRIME COMMISSION)

Sheriff Hayden Bentley, requested approval to apply for a grant for 5 patrol car laptop computers and radio modems through the Government Crime Commission.  Sheriff Bentley stated that the total cost for the laptops and modems was $39,322.20 and he noted that the County’s share would total $9,830.

Sheriff Bentley mentioned that he had put in a request to receive older laptop and radio modem units from the Fayetteville Police Department, who was updating their equipment.  However, Sheriff Bentley informed the Board that the older units would not allow officers to use the main frequency to all counties and he noted that they would not be adaptable to future changes and upgrades.

Commissioner Hammer asked who would be responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of these computers.  Sheriff Bentley suggested that Greg Cronk, Information Technology Director, take that role since it would cost the County funding to contract with an outside agency.

Commissioner Robertson asked if there would be a licensing fee for the software.  Sheriff Bentley replied that there would, in fact, be a licensing fee.  Sheriff Bentley stated that the DCI fee was $50 per month but he noted that he did not expect that much for the laptop software.

Sheriff Bentley informed the Board that there was approximately $14,000 left in the Sheriff’s Department drug fund that could be used towards the grant match. 

Commissioner Bolick made a motion to approve the grant application request and to allow drug fund monies to be used towards the grant match if awarded.  Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

Sheriff Bentley also requested that the Board send letters to Senator R.B. Sloan and Representative Edgar Starnes in support of HB918, which would increase the civil service fee from $5 to $15.  Sheriff Bentley stated that he planned to write letters to Senator Sloan and Representative Starnes as well.   Commissioner Robertson requested that Sheriff Bentley copy the Board on his letter so that the Board could follow-up accordingly.

ROBERT E. LEE RECOGNITION REQUEST

Larry Church, Member of the Sons of Confederate Rangers, requested that the Board recognized General Robert E. Lee’s birthday annually on January 19th.  Mr. Church stated that General Lee was a great leader, a gentleman, and a Christian and he felt that he needed to be honored. 

Mr. Church stated that over 1,000 Alexander County residents fought in the Civil War and he noted that 321 were killed.  Mr. Church felt that these individuals needed to be honored.  He also mentioned that the Civil War was not a slavery issue and he noted that General Grant had made the statement that if the war had been a slavery issue, he would lay down his sword and join the South. 

Commissioner Bolick made a motion to annually declare January 19th as Robert E. Lee Day in Alexander County.

Commissioner Harbinson mentioned that January 19, 2004 was also Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Alexander County and was recognized as a County Holiday.  Mr. Church stated that his organization was in no way trying to impose on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which was observed on the third Monday of each January.   Mr. Church stated that Martin Luther King Jr. Day just happened to fall on Robert E. Lee’s birthday this year.

Commissioner Harbinson requested an amendment to Commissioner Bolick’s motion to include that if Martin Luther King Jr. Day fell on January 19th, Robert E. Lee’s birthday, that Robert E. Lee Day would be observed on the Saturday before.  Commissioner Bolick made a motion to accept the amendment.  Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

Commissioner Bolick made a motion to annually declare January 19th as Robert E. Lee Day in Alexander County unless in conflicted with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, then it would be observed on the Saturday before.  Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

FUTURE FORWARD ECONOMIC ALLIANCE

Rick French, County Manager, discussed the Future Forward Alliance, which was a result of dozens of meetings and 10 public hearings by the Future Forward Planning Committee and additional representatives from all 12 counties in the area.  Mr. French stated that the Future Forward Planning Committee had adopted bylaws, which were distributed, and had agreed to establish a 501(c)3 organization. 

Mr. French stated that the Future Forward Alliance was challenged with implementing 10 strategies aimed at creating jobs, improving the education and skills of local workers, and encouraging regional collaboration.  Mr. French noted that the US Economic Development Administration had approved the Future Forward strategy as a comprehensive economic development strategy after all 12 counties adopted resolutions of support, including Alexander County whose resolution was approved by the Board on August 25, 2003.  However, Mr. French stated that in order to follow up on the resolution of support, Future Forward was requesting the Board to take the following actions:

A.        Approve an investment of $1,711, which is a share amount based on Alexander County’s size and population.  These resources would be used to leverage thousands of federal, state, and private dollars in support of the Future Forward Strategy.

Mr. French noted that this was conditional and based on the budget.  Mr. French noted that it may be determined with more information that the County could not or did not want participate.  Mr. French stated that the Board could withdraw if it was determined that the County would not benefit from the investment also.

B.         Nominate a member of the Board to serve as a member of the Future Forward Economic Alliance Board by January 31, 2004 if the Board chooses to invest in the Alliance and includes this investment in the FY 2004-2005 budget.  Only counties who have adopted a resolution of support and invest in the Alliance are eligible to appoint a member to serve on the Alliance from the Board of Commissioners.

C.        Nominate a private sector representative to the Future Forward Economic Alliance Board by January 31, 2004.  Based on the resolution adopted in August, Alexander County is eligible to nominate a private sector member to the board.  That individual would be required to join the Alliance as a private sector member.  A representative from the Economic Development Corporation or Chamber of Commerce Board is recommended.

Mr. French stated that the fundamental philosophy of the effort was to promote voluntary regional collaboration as a mechanism for overcoming the severe hardships our region has endured in the past 3 years.  Mr. French informed the Board that the efforts of the Alliance had already resulted in the creation of a website to facilitate communication and involvement across the region, establishment of a “business roundtable” providing a forum for local businesspeople interested in improving the region’s economy, and development of an internet-based people-job matching system to make finding regional employment opportunities easier.  The Alliance has also leveraged $180,000 in state funding for activities affecting all 12 counties.

Commissioner Robertson made a motion to approve the investment of $1,711 conditionally in support of the Future Forward Strategy.  Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to nominate Commissioner Robertson to serve on the Future Forward Economic Alliance Board.  Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

The Board agreed to table the nomination of a private sector representative to the Future Forward Economic Alliance Board until more information was received.

BOARD APPOINTMENTS AND REAPPOINTMENTS

Commissioner Hammer presented the following appointments and reappointments:

A.  JUVENILE CRIME PREVENTION COUNCIL

Reappoint Darlene Carrigan                   2-year terms

Reappoint Scott Bath

Reappoint Hayden Bentley

Reappoint Carrie Clodfelter Garvey

Reappoint Vicki Bartholomew

Reappoint Jim Mock

Reappoint Rick French

Reappoint Erin Salyer

Reappoint Caryn Bryzkcy

Reappoint Dale Graham

Reappoint Leeanne Whisnant

Reappoint Dan Davis

Reappoint Crystal Sain

Reappoint Gloria Hamilton

Reappoint Suzanne Rhinehart

Appoint Aleia Watson

Appoint Ralph Harper

Appoint Glenn Fox

Appoint Josh Millsaps

B.       WPCOG REGION E AGING COMMITTEE

Appoint Angela Johnson                        2-year terms

Appoint Max Smith

Appoint Nan Campbell

C.       WPCOG SISTER CITIES ASSOCIATION

Appoint Jon Molesa                              1-year terms

Appoint Nancy Coley (alternate)

D.      PLANNING & ZONING COMMISSION

Reappoint Eric Fritz                               2 years

Reappoint Lloyd Jarvis              1 year

Reappoint Don Harrington                     1 year

Appoint Jennifer Martin                         3 years

E.       CRIMINAL JUSTICE ADVISORY BOARD

Reappoint Tammy Lippard                    1 year terms

Reappoint Ingrid Townsend

Reappoint Tony Jones

Reappoint Rick French

Reappoint Sarah Kirkman

Reappoint Kimberly Taylor

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

Commissioner Hammer noted that Jon Molesa had applied to serve on the Planning & Zoning Commissioner.  However, he noted that Mr. Molesa was not chosen to serve.  Commissioner Harbinson stated that Mr. Molesa had, in fact, been considered for this position.   Commissioner Harbinson also mentioned that citizens could apply to serve on committees by visiting the County website and downloading the applications.

BUDGET ORDINANCE AMENDMENT #18

Rick French, County Manager, discussed the purpose of Budget Amendment #18, which included the following information:

Budget Amendment #18 – To budget for Heart and Stroke Prevention Funds from the NC Division of Public Health.  To budget for Sixth-Grade Hepatitis B Immunization Initiative reimbursement from NCDHHS.  To budget for the use of Federal and State drug funds.  To budget for the use of insurance reimbursement received in June 2003 for Sheriff Department vehicle.

Commissioner Hammer made a motion to approve Budget Amendment #18.  Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

DISCUSSION OF INSURANCE FOR RETIRED COMMISSIONERS

Chairman Keever discussed the possibility of the County providing health insurance for retiring commissioners after 5 years of service. 

Commissioner Harbinson informed the Board that he had talked with a county commissioner from Iowa at the national conference in Charlotte who told Commissioner Harbinson that he made $84,000 as a commissioner.  Commissioner Harbinson felt that the County needed to establish some kind of incentive to encourage good candidates for run for the seat of county commissioner.  Commissioner Harbinson suggested that 2 commissioners study this issue and report back to the board with any suggestions for incentives.

Chairman Keever also mentioned that he would like to have other issues discussed along with the health insurance issue including COLA adjustments for commissioners when given to employees as well as monthly expense checks for commissioners without any additional paperwork.

Commissioner Hammer asked that it be noted that the Board was discussing 5 years for commissioners when any other employee had to work for the County for 20 years to receive health insurance benefits after retirement.  However, Commissioner Hammer noted that if a person age 60 worked for the State for 5 years, the State would pay for the employee’s health insurance.

Commissioner Bolick suggested that the County simply allow commissioners to purchase their own policies through the County.

Rick French, County Manager, stated that staff would research all avenues.

Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to establish a 2 commissioner committee to study this issue.  Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

OTHER BUSINESS

The following issues were discussed during Other Business:

A.      Chairman Robertson presented a copy of the Martin County Resolution in Support to Have the Department of the Navy Reconsider its Location of an Outlying Landing Field in Washington County, North Carolina and he asked that the Board consider adopting a similar resolution.

Commissioner Robertson made a motion that Alexander County adopt a similar resolution at the February 2, 2004 Commissioners’ Meeting.  Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

B.       Rick French, County Manager, stated that the NACo Legislative Conference would be held in Washington D.C. on February 27, 2004 through March 2, 2004.

C.      Mr. French stated that the NCACC Economic Development Conference would be held on March 18 – 19, 2004.

D.      Mr. French also stated that Clerk to the Board Jamie Millsaps’ wedding would be held on Saturday, January 10, 2004 at 5:00 PM at Rocky Face Baptist Church.

CONSENT AGENDA

A.      Request by EMS to declare a ventilator (Ventipac 2D) surplus property.

B.      Revised Charter and Bylaws for the Western Piedmont Council of Governments.

C.      Tax Release Requests for December $961.37 and Tax Refund Requests for December $28,318.48.

D.      Minutes from November 17, 2003 Regular Commissioners’ Meeting and December 1, 2003 Regular Commissioners’ Meeting.

Commissioner Hammer made a motion to adopt the Consent Agenda.  Commissioner Bolick 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 Harbinson made a motion to enter into Closed Session at 7:56 PM to discuss contractual matters and personnel issues pursuant to N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5 & 6).  Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business, Commissioner Hammer made a motion to adjourn at 8:55 PM.  Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

 

                                                                                                           

W. Norris Keever, Chairman         Jamie M. Starnes, Clerk to the Board