WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2000
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting on Tuesday, September 5, 2000 at 9:00 A.M. in the Board Room of the Watauga County Courthouse.
PRESENT: Jimmy Hodges, Chairman
Sue Sweeting, Vice-Chairman
James Coffey, Commissioner
Art Kohles, Commissioner
Jack Lawrence, Sr., Commissioner
Jeff Hedrick, County Attorney
Robert E. Nelson, Jr., County Manager
Libby Link, Clerk to the Board
Chairman Hodges called the meeting to order at 9:00 A.M. welcoming those in attendance.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Chairman Hodges called for additions or corrections to the August 7, 2000 regular and closed session meeting minutes as well as the August 15, 2000 regular meeting minutes.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the August 7, 2000 regular and closed session meeting minutes and the August 15, 2000 regular meeting minutes as presented.
APPROVAL OF SEPTEMBER 5, 2000 AGENDA
Chairman Hodges called for additions or corrections to the September 5, 2000 agenda.
Chairman Hodges noted that under Item 5 (Higher Education Bonds Resolution of Support) that Mr. Bob Shaffer would address the Board on behalf of Appalachian State University. In addition, under Item 13 (Travel Request for Captain Paula Townsend) that the agenda be amended to consider vehicle bids for the Sheriff’s Department. Dr. Lawrence requested an addition to the agenda under Item 16 (Miscellaneous Administrative Matters) regarding Board appointments.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the September 5, 2000 agenda with the amendments as noted.
EXPENSE REDUCTION PROPOSAL
Mr. Robert S. Segal, CPA PA, discussed a proposal to assist the County in expense reduction and revenue enhancement. Mr. Segal stated his firm consisted of three CPAs who each had over 20 years of accounting and business experience. He explained that his firm would review expenses that the County paid for a number of items (electricity, cell phones, phone system, copiers, etc). The firm would make recommendations as to a vendor and price. The County could accept or reject the recommendations. However, if the County accepted the recommendations and saved money, the County would split the savings (50/50) for two years with Robert S. Segal, CPA PA. After the two-year period, the entire savings belonged to the County. Mr. Segal stated that quality service had to be maintained. In addition, he noted the firm had worked with 12 school systems and 29 counties across the State.
Commissioner Kohles seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to approve the Robert S. Segal, CPA PA proposal contingent on County Attorney Hedrick’s approval of the agreement.
HIGHER EDUCATION BONDS RESOLUTION OF SUPPORT
Mr. Bob Shaffer, representing Appalachian State University (ASU), addressed the Board regarding a resolution in support of higher education bonds to assist the State’s community colleges and universities in meeting facility needs. The General Assembly had approved a $3.1 billion bond package subject to voter approval on the November 7, 2000 ballot. Mr. Shaffer reviewed how the funds would be allocated for repairs and renovations to ASU’s campus. He requested the Board adopt the resolution in support of higher education.
In addition, Dr. Sandra Anderson, Executive Director of the Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute-Watauga Campus (CCC&TI-WC), addressed the Board explaining that if this bond referendum was approved, the CCC&TI-WC would receive approximately $2 million and briefly discussed the proposed renovations to its campus. Dr. Anderson thanked the Board for its consideration of this resolution.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to approve this resolution.
RESOLUTION BOOK #10, PAGE #35
“SUNSHINE SUNDAY” RESOLUTION TO PROMOTE DEPRESSION AWARENESS
Mr. David Stone, Health Services Coordinator for the Appalachian District Health Department, presented a “Sunshine Sunday” resolution to promote depression awareness in Watauga County. He stated the Northwest Regional Suicide Prevention Consortium was formed to address issues of depression and suicide in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties. Mr. Stone requested the Board declare October 15, 2000 as “Sunshine Sunday” in Watauga County.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the resolution as presented.
RESOLUTION BOOK #10, PAGE #37
DISCUSSION OF VOLUNTARY FARMLAND PRESERVATION PROGRAM DRAFT ORDINANCE
Mr. Bill Edmisten presented the draft Voluntary Farmland Preservation Program Ordinance. He briefly discussed three issues: funding, support and the mood of farmers. Mr. Edmisten stated the program had received support from the County’s Soil and Water Conservation and the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service. In addition, endorsements had been received from several agencies throughout the County. Mr. Edmisten then asked Mr. Doug Clawson to address the Board regarding the mood of farmers. Mr. Clawson stated he had attended all of the Planning Board’s community meetings which were held at different locations throughout the County. He felt that one of the major points of concern discussed at those meetings was the preservation of the County’s rural heritage. Mr. Clawson added that the steering committee members felt that this draft ordinance was a major step to preserve farmland in the County. Mr. Edmisten notified the Board that he and Mr. Clawson planned to review the draft ordinance with the Planning Board at its next regular meeting.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to forward the draft Voluntary Farmland Preservation Program Ordinance to the Planning Board and County Attorney Hedrick for their review.
WELLNESS PROGRAM REPORT
Ms. Margie Mansure, Family and Consumer Education Agent with the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service, presented a report regarding the County’s Wellness Program. She stated the Program began in 1999 with a health screening and health information fair. Of the County’s approximately 220 employees, 80 employees participated. A Wellness Committee comprised of employees from various departments met monthly to discuss wellness programs which might be beneficial to employees. Ms. Mansure briefly discussed the array of services provided for employees and thanked the Board for its continued support of the program.
A. Monthly Collections Report – Tax Administrator, Larry McLean, presented the Tax Collections Report for the month of August, 2000.
B. Refunds and Releases – Tax Administrator McLean presented the following Refunds and Releases for August, 2000 for Board approval:
TO BE TYPED IN MINUTE BOOK
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to approve the Refunds and Releases Report as presented.
C. Request for Approval of Vehicle Purchase – Tax Administrator McLean stated the following bids were received for a sport utility vehicle to be used for the Tax Office:
Suzuki-Grand Vitara John Cook Subaru-Suzuki $19,578.00
Jeep-Cherokee Hall Chrysler-Isuzu, Inc. $21,000.00
Ford-Explorer B. Miller Ford-Lincoln Mercury, Inc. $22,995.00
Montero-Sport Blue Ridge Mitsubishi $23,900.88
Toyota-4-Runner Toyota of Boone, Inc. $26,885.00
Although the bid for the Suzuki-Grand Vitara was the lowest, Mr. McLean recommended the Board approve the purchase of the Jeep-Cherokee from Hall Chrysler-Isuzu, Inc. in the amount of $21,000. Mr. McLean noted the Jeep-Cherokee had a more powerful engine as listed in the bid specifications, contained larger cargo space as well as greater ground clearance and requested the Board’s approval.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Kohles, moved to approve the Hall Chrysler-Isuzu, Inc. bid of $21,000 as requested.
D. Request for Declaration of Surplus Property – Tax Administrator McLean requested the Board declare the following vacant lots as surplus property:
PIN No. Lot Location Acreage Value
1888-16-1007-000 B40, Sec. 2 Mill Ridge .1 ac. $6,000
1888-05-4651-000 G24, Sec. 2 Mill Ridge .1 ac. $6,000
1941-41-9642-000 515AA Westridge Beech Mtn. .5 ac. $1,500
1941-33-5912-000 356AA Westridge Beech Mtn. .3 ac. $2,500
1950-36-0084-000 256, Sec. C Charter Hills Beech Mtn. .5 ac. $6,000
Mr. McLean stated that he, County Manager Nelson and Finance Director Isaacs had reviewed the lots, and after the Board had declared the parcels surplus, the County would then determine how to dispose of the property.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to declare the parcels listed as surplus.
A. Request for Road Names Public Hearing – Planning & Inspections Director, Joe Furman, stated a public hearing was required (pursuant to N.C.G.S. 153A-239.1) for the adoption of new private road names. Mr. Furman recommended the Board schedule this public hearing for the Board’s next regular meeting scheduled for September 19, 2000.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to schedule a public hearing to consider the adoption of new private road names for the Board’s September 19, 2000 regular meeting.
B. House Repair Grant Request – Planning & Inspections Director, Joe Furman, requested approval to apply for funds from the N.C. Housing Finance Agency. He noted the County had applied for funding unsuccessfully in 1999. If awarded, the funds would be used to assist elderly and/or low income households. Mr. Furman stated the program was very competitive with a limited amount of funds and required no matching funds. He requested the Board’s approval to submit an application for this fiscal year to be prepared and administered, if approved, by Region D Council of Governments.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to approve this request.
C. Communications Site Lease – Planning & Inspections Director, Joe Furman, presented a lease agreement between the County and Curtis Alan Replogle. The lease agreement would enable the County to construct a building that would house a radio repeater as well as to place an antenna for it on private property on Tater Hill. The equipment was being moved from Beech Mountain. This move would improve radio communications for the County’s fire departments. The lease was prepared by County Attorney Hedrick, and Mr. Furman requested the Board’s approval.
Commissioner Kohles seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to approve this request.
PROJECT ON AGING MATTERS
A. Senior Center Grant Request – Project on Aging Director, Angie Boitnotte, addressed the Board regarding an additional appropriation of State funds for the County’s two senior centers. She stated the total of $12,194 required a local match of $1,354, which was present in the Project on Aging’s current budget. Ms. Boitnotte noted the funds would be used to purchase an Automated External Defibrillator, a digital camera and program supplies.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to approve the additional appropriation of State funds for the County’s Project on Aging senior centers.
B. Annual Report – Project on Aging Director, Angie Boitnotte, stated that each year the Project on Aging was required to present an annual report for the Board’s review. She briefly reviewed the report with the Board and answered questions. This report was for the Board’s information, and no action was taken.
Finance Director, Doris Isaacs, presented the following budget amendments for Board approval:
Account # Description Debit Credit
103300-345001 Work 1st Transportation 3,922
103300-345002 Rural General Public 12,399
103300-345000 Elderly & Disabled Trans. 33,600
143300-345000 Elderly & Disabled Trans. 6,289
104500-469843 Rural General Public 12,399
104500-469844 Work 1st Transportation 3,922
Account # Description Debit Credit
104500-469845 E&D Grant 8,000
105210-469845 NRMG – E&D 3,350
105550-431301 E&D – Transportation 11,250
105890-469846 Watauga Opport. – E&D 11,000
145310-469845 DSS – E&D Trans. 6,289
Budget amendment to recognize Elderly and Disabled, Work 1st and the Rural General Public Transportation Grant awards.
Account # Description Debit Credit
219800-498010 Transfer to General Fund 658,055
213991-399101 Fund Bal. Approp.-New 448,514
219930-442610 Courthouse Complex 209,541
103980-398121 Transfer from Cap. Reserve 658,055
104199-457000 Cap. Outlay-Land 658,055
Budget amendment to transfer funds from the Capital Reserve Fund to the General Fund for the purchase of the Ginn house and parking lot. This transaction was approved at the Board’s August 7, 2000 regular meeting.
Account # Description Debit Credit
263255-360026 E-911 Telephone Surcharge 40,000
264330-475026 Project Reserves 40,000
103255-360026 E-911 Wireless Surcharge 40,000
104311-449901 Misc. Exp.-E-911 Wireless 40,000
Budget amendment to transfer E-911 Wireless funds budgeted in the E-911 Surcharge Fund which must be recognized and expended in the General Fund per the Local Government Commission Memorandum #921 dated June 22, 2000.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the budget amendments as presented.
SHERIFF DEPARTMENT MATTERS
A. Travel Request - Sheriff James C. “Red” Lyons informed the Board that Captain Paula Townsend had been selected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as one of six law enforcement officers in the State to attend the National Academy training course in Quantico, Virginia. The training course was scheduled for January 7, 2001 through March 16, 2001. The FBI would provide all costs for the program (with the exception of transportation to and from the academy). In addition, Captain Townsend had agreed to pay for a complete physical and uniforms that the Academy required rather than ask the County to pay these expenses. Captain Townsend had also agreed to a three-year commitment to remain in law enforcement within the State for a three-year period. Captain Townsend’s request was to be on paid leave while attending this course. Sheriff Lyons stated he would work additional hours at night and on weekends to make up for Captain Townsend’s absence. Sheriff Lyons felt this was the best instruction a law enforcement officer could receive and would be beneficial to the residents of Watauga County.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to grant paid leave for Captain Paula Townsend while attending the FBI’s National Academy training course from January 7, 2001 through March 16, 2001.
Prior to the vote, Vice-Chairman Sweeting and Chairman Hodges voiced their concerns regarding Captain Townsend’s request to be on paid leave while attending this course and its effect on the County’s taxpayers.
The following vote was then made on Commissioner Coffey’s motion:
VOTE: Aye-2 (Coffey, Lawrence)
Nay-3 (Hodges, Kohles, Sweeting)
B. Vehicle Bids - Sheriff James C. “Red” Lyons stated the following bids were received for three 2001 Crown Victoria vehicles:
Larry Schronce Ford $61,149
Bill Smith Ford $61,170
Bobby Jones Ford $59,157
B. Miller Ford $60,173
Sheriff Lyons recommended the Board accept the bid received from Bobby Jones Ford in the amount of $59,157.
Commissioner Kohles seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the Bobby Jones Ford bid in the amount of $59,157.
RETREAT FOLLOW-UP DISCUSSION
Vice-Chairman Sweeting stated it had been six months since the Board’s retreat (March 17, 2000) and requested a time for the Board to review what had been discussed/recommended during the retreat and the status of each item. Following brief discussion, it was the consensus of the Board to conduct a special meeting on Thursday, September 14, 2000, in the Administrative Conference Room, Watauga County Courthouse.
DISCUSSION OF VETERANS MEMORIAL WALL
Commissioner Coffey stated he had been contacted by veterans who wish to establish a County memorial wall honoring the County’s veterans. Mr. Coffey requested the Board’s approval to form a committee and noted the following had agreed to work on this project: Earl Moretz, Roby Brown, Franklin Norris and Commissioner Coffey. In addition, Mr. Coffey agreed to notify Veterans Service Officer/Safety Director, Jim Harmon, of this project. He added the committee would estimate the cost involved and determine where the wall could be placed.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to approve this request.
MISCELLANEOUS ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS
A. Boards and Commissions – County Manager Nelson noted the following members’ terms had expired on the Watauga County Library Board: David Edmisten, Ann Blackburn and Mae Councill. The Library Board had requested that Ms. Blackburn and Ms. Councill be re-appointed to four-year terms and requested that Shelby Lane be appointed to a four-year term.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to re-appoint Ann Blackburn and Mae Councill and to appoint Shelby Lane to the Watauga County Library Board.
County Manager Nelson noted the following members had resigned their positions on the Watauga County Council on the Status of Women: Kathy Triplett and Lori Nicklin. The Council recommended Lisa Shelton and Margaret Watkins to fill these positions (terms would expire in June, 2001).
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Kohles, moved to appoint Lisa Shelton and Margaret Watkins to the Watauga County Council on the Status of Women.
County Manager Nelson stated there remained one vacancy on the Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute (Watauga County) Advisory Committee to fill the expired term of Howard Dorgan. Dr. Sandra Anderson, Executive Director of the Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute-Watauga Campus, recommended Sheri Moretz or George Brudzinski to fill this position (term would expire August 31, 2001).
Chairman Hodges seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting moved to appoint Sheri Moretz to the Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute (Watauga County) Advisory Committee.
County Manager Nelson stated there was a vacant position on the Boone Board of Adjustment, and the Boone Town Council nominated Rick Foster to fill this second alternate ETJ position. This position would expire June 30, 2002.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Kohles, moved to appoint Karen Byerly for the alternate ETJ position on the Boone Board of Adjustment.
Prior to the vote, Chairman Hodges seconded by Commissioner Coffey, nominated Rick Foster as recommended by the Town of Boone for the alternate ETJ position on the Boone Board of Adjustment.
The following vote was then made on Karen Byerly’s nomination:
Aye-2 (Kohles, Sweeting)
Nay-3 (Coffey, Hodges, Lawrence)
The following vote was then made on Rick Foster’s nomination:
Aye-3 (Coffey, Hodges, Lawrence)
Based on the results of the votes, Rick Foster was appointed to the alternate ETJ position on the Boone Board of Adjustment.
County Manager Nelson noted that Candy Winebarger had resigned her position on the Watauga County Planning Board (representing District 5). Commissioner Kohles nominated Diane Tilson to serve on the Watauga County Planning Board (term would expire December, 2000).
It was the consensus of the Board to appoint Diane Tilson to the Watauga County Planning Board.
B. JobLink Appreciation Week Proclamation – County Manager Nelson stated a request had been received from the JobLink Career Center to proclaim October 2-6, 2000 as JobLink Appreciation Week in Watauga County.
Commissioner Kohles seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to approve this proclamation.
C. Announcements – County Manager Nelson reminded the Board that its next regular meeting scheduled for September 19, 2000 would be held at 7:00 P.M. at the Stewart Simmons Volunteer Fire Department.
In addition, the Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Board of Trustees’ dinner meeting would be held on Thursday, September 21, 2000 at 6:00 P.M. at the Dan’l Boone Inn Restaurant.
D. Board Appointments – Commissioner Lawrence stated he had discussed this matter at the Board’s last meeting (September 15, 2000) and reiterated his concerns about the Board of Commissioners making appointments to boards and commissions without knowing the individual(s) and whether or not they were willing to serve. He felt that individuals needed to be made aware of what appointments entailed (meeting dates, times, etc.).
Following discussion, Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved that the Board of Commissioners hereafter not vote on nominees to boards until after two weeks’ notice or at a minimum notice from the Board of Commissioners’ previous meeting as to the name of the person nominated. In addition, the persons making the nominations were encouraged to give addresses and phone numbers for the persons that were nominated, and further the Board of Commissioners would strive to draw upon the insight of the nominating body when the body was making the nomination.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Kohles, moved to enter Closed Session at 10:37 A.M. to discuss: Attorney/Client Matters – G.S. 143-318.11(a)(3), and Land Acquisition – G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5)(i). Following a brief recess, the Board entered Closed Session at 10:44 A.M.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Kohles, moved to resume the regular meeting at 11:23 A.M.
Commissioner Kohles seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to adjourn the meeting at 11:23 A.M.
Jimmy Hodges, Chairman
Elizabeth H. Link, Clerk to the Board