WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
FRIDAY, JANUARY 5, 2001
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting on Friday, January 5, 2001 at 9:00 A.M. in the Board Room of the Watauga County Courthouse.
PRESENT: Jimmy Hodges, Chairman
James Coffey, Vice-Chairman
Jack Lawrence, Sr., Commissioner
Sue Sweeting, Commissioner
Pat Wilkie, 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 December 4, 2000 regular meeting minutes and the December 18, 2000 special meeting minutes.
Commissioner Sweeting requested a deletion to the Commissioner-Boards & Commissions Appointments. She noted that Vice-Chairman Coffey was listed as the Delegate to Regional Transportation Committee (under Region D Council of Governments); however, that Committee no longer existed.
Commissioner Wilkie requested an amendment to Captain Paula Townsend’s Travel Training Request. During the meeting, Commissioner Wilkie questioned whether it was possible to require Captain Townsend to remain in the County’s employment for a specified period of time upon completion of the training session and asked County Attorney Hedrick to research. She requested the minutes be corrected to reflect this statement.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Vice-Chairman Coffey, moved to approve the December 4, 2000 regular meeting minutes with the amendments as discussed and the December 18, 2000 special meeting minutes as presented.
APPROVAL OF JANUARY 5, 2001 AGENDA
Chairman Hodges called for additions or corrections to the January 5, 2001 agenda.
County Manager Nelson requested an additional item to be discussed under Miscellaneous Administrative Matters regarding the intersection of Baird’s Creek Road and N.C. Highway 105.
In addition, County Manager Nelson stated that County Attorney Hedrick had requested additional items to be discussed in Closed Session pursuant to G.S. 143-318.11(a)(3), attorney/client matters (litigation matters).
Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, moved to approve the January 5, 2001 agenda with the amendments as requested.
EMS TRANSPORT POLICY AMENDMENTS
Mr. Reggie Hassler, Chairman of the Watauga EMS Advisory Committee, addressed the Board with proposed amendments to the EMS transport policy. (This item was first introduced at the Board’s November 21, 2000 regular meeting, but due to a request from Ms. Pat Gray, Administrator, Blowing Rock Hospital, it was the consensus of the Board to table discussion until this meeting). Mr. Hassler briefly reviewed the existing transport policy (and definition of major trauma) and suggestions as to appropriate transport of patients. The suggestions (for clarity) had been endorsed by the Watauga Medical Center’s ALS Committee as well as reviewed and recommended by the County’s EMS Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee felt the patient or closest relative should be asked which hospital they wished to be transported to.
Mr. Eric Winkelmann, Director of Operations, Blowing Rock Hospital, felt that a patient’s choice of medical facility should always be honored when requested. However, he felt that soliciting a decision in an emergency situation might cause confusion, especially if the patient was unfamiliar with the area. Mr. Winkelmann agreed that if a patient had suffered a major trauma that the patient should be transported to Watauga Medical Center. However, he felt that if a person suffered a heart attack in Blowing Rock that patient should be transported to Blowing Rock Hospital (the closest facility). In addition, Dr. Charles Davant, III, a physician at the Blowing Rock Hospital, supported Mr. Winkelmann’s views regarding the transport policy.
Ms. Barbara Ball (a resident of Blowing Rock) and Dr. Clayton Dean (a retired physician and member of the Watauga Medical Center Board of Trustees) addressed the Board and voiced their support of the County’s EMS Advisory Committee recommendation to amend the existing transport policy to allow residents the choice of which medical facility they wished to be transported to. Ms. Ball stated she was speaking on behalf of a great number of people in Blowing Rock who did not care which facility an individual chose, but stressed the importance of allowing the patient or family member to make the decision.
Following discussion, Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, moved for the County’s EMS Advisory Committee to discuss/review the amendments further in regards to a patient’s/family member’s choice of transport to a medical facility and to make a final recommendation to the Board of Commissioners at a future meeting.
MIDDLE FORK GREENWAY ASSOCIATION FUNDING REQUEST
Ms. Ann Burgess, President of the Middle Fork Greenway Association, Inc., addressed the Board regarding plans to create a greenway-walking trail linking Boone and Blowing Rock along the Middle Fork of the New River (approximately 6-7 miles). Ms. Burgess explained that this Association was formed to promote the protection and preservation of the natural and cultural heritage of the region served by the Middle Fork of the New River. She added the Association felt a greenway would offer incalculable benefits not just to this community but also to the Towns, the County and to the general public. In order to determine the best trail for accessibility, terrain, etc., the Association wanted to conduct a feasibility study. Appalachian State University’s Geography and Planning Department had agreed to do the feasibility study and preliminary plan for a greenway along the river. The cost for the study which included supplies and equipment was $2,500. The Association requested the County and the Towns of Blowing Rock and Boone to pay $833.33 each to cover the cost of the feasibility study. Ms. Burgess informed the Board that the Town of Boone’s Council had voted unanimously to pay $833.33 contingent on the County’s and Town of Blowing Rock’s contribution.
Commissioner Wilkie seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, moved to approve this request.
Prior to the vote, there was discussion on whether or not the motion should be contingent on the Town of Blowing Rock’s approval to pay its portion. Commissioner Wilkie stated she would like the Association to get as much funding as possible for this project.
Commissioner Wilkie seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, amended the motion to approve the amount requested from the County in the amount of $833.33 to be taken out of the Manager’s Administrative Budget contingency fund.
VOLUNTARY FARMLAND PRESERVATION BOARD FUNDING REQUEST
Mr. Doug Clawson, Chair of the Voluntary Farmland Preservation Program Advisory Board, addressed the Board regarding a funding request. Mr. Clawson stated the Advisory Board had met and would like to make the Program available starting in January, 2001. In order to accomplish this, the Advisory Board was requesting a special allocation in the amount of $500 to cover minimal start-up expenses for the program from January 1, 2001 through June 30, 2001. In addition, the Advisory Board requested a new line item to be added to the County’s Soil and Water Conservation budget to cover estimated expenses for future fiscal years.
Vice-Chairman Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to approve a special allocation in the amount of $500 with the funds to be taken from the Manager’s Administrative Budget contingency fund.
FISCAL YEAR 2001 AUDIT CONTRACT RENEWAL
Mr. Bryce Holder, Holder, Copeland & Associates, P.A., had provided the Board with the proposed contract for audit services for the County for Fiscal Year 2001. This contract was for the third year of the 3-year contract which was approved by the Board at its May 3, 1999 regular meeting. The standard billing rates were not to exceed $31,000 for the audit and preparation of financial statements.
Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Vice-Chairman Coffey, moved to approve the Holder, Copeland & Associates, P.A. contract as presented.
N.C. COOPERATIVE EXTENSION MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
Ms. Sue Counts, Director of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service, presented a Memorandum of Understanding which involved the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service, N.C. State University, N.C. AT&T State University and the Board of County Commissioners. This agreement better defined what each parties’ responsibilities were in providing the extension services in the County. She briefly discussed several programs provided through the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service (i.e. 4-H, youth, family education and rural development). Ms. Counts stated this agreement had not changed substantially since the last time it was signed in 1998 but was required to be updated every several years.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, moved to approve this Memorandum of Understanding.
A. Monthly Collections Report – Tax Administrator, Larry McLean, presented the Tax Collections Report for the month of December, 2000.
B. Refunds and Releases – Tax Administrator McLean presented the following Refunds and Releases for December, 2000 for Board approval:
TO BE TYPED IN MINUTE BOOK
Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Vice-Chairman Coffey, moved to approve the Refunds and Releases Report as presented.
FIXED ASSET TRANSFERS
Finance Director, Doris Isaacs, requested the following items be removed from the County’s fixed asset records and transferred to the Watauga County Board of Education:
Asset # Description Date of Acquisition Cost
00118 Bethel Elem.-school park 06-30-82 $ 6,352.60
00119 Cove Creek Elem.-school park 06-30-82 3,462.19
00120 Green Valley Elem.-school park 06-30-82 11,975.96
00121 Parkway Elem.-school park 06-30-82 8,121.46
00122 Valle Crucis Elem.-school park 06-30-82 16,032.57
00144 Bethel Elem.-picnic shelter 09-24-88 1,107.66
00145 Cove Creek Elem.-floor picnic shelter 08-31-88 701.00
08041 Valle Crucis Elem.-redwood play ctr. 07-29-88 760.50
08188 Hardin Park-water fountain 11-07-88 200.00
Ms. Isaacs explained that this construction and/or improvements of parks and playgrounds was done at various elementary schools throughout the County, and the Watauga County Board of Education had these assets listed through its accounting system.
In addition, Ms. Isaacs requested the following item be removed from the County’s asset record:
Asset # Description Date of Acquisition Cost
00126 Park Construction & Development 06-30-83 $32,434.71
Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, moved to approve the fixed asset transfers and removal as requested.
MISCELLANEOUS ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS
Boards & Commissions – The following member’s term expired in December, 2000 on the Boone Rural Fire Protection Service District – Mr. Floyd Fuller, a representative from Commissioner Wilkie’s District 5. Commissioner Wilkie stated she would like to re-appoint Mr. Fuller.
It was the consensus of the Board to re-appoint Mr. Floyd Fuller to the Boone Rural Fire Protection Service District for a 2-year term.
It was noted that Mr. Lee Estep no longer was a member on the Region D Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council; however, Craig Sullivan had agreed to serve.
Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to appoint Mr. Craig Sullivan to the Region D Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council.
Future Appointments – County Manager Nelson noted terms expired in February, 2001 on the Home and Community Care Block Grant Project on Aging Advisory Committee and the Watauga County Adult Care Home Community Advisory Committee. In addition, nominations had been received for appointments on the Watauga County Parks & Recreation Commission.
The future appointments were for the Board’s information, and no action was taken.
Charter Communications Rate Increase – County Manager Nelson stated the County had received notification from Charter Communications regarding a proposed cable rate increase effective with the January, 2001 bills. Mr. Nelson noted the County’s cable franchise ordinance allowed the Board to conduct a public hearing to consider the rate increase(s). He requested conducting the public hearing at the Board’s January 16, 2001 regular meeting.
Vice-Chairman Coffey seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, moved to schedule a public hearing for the Board’s January 16, 2001 regular meeting as requested.
Baird’s Creek Road and N.C. Highway 105 Intersection – County Manager Nelson stated the County had written a letter to the N.C. Department of Transportation (N.C. DOT) and attached a report of accidents that had occurred at the intersection of N.C. Highway 105 and Baird’s Creek Road. The N.C. DOT had responded that after reviewing the location, found that geometric changes to the intersection would be beneficial. Unfortunately, the N.C. DOT did not have the funds to complete the improvements at this time, and this project was not currently on the County’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) request. However, the Board could write a letter to the N.C. DOT as a request to place the improvement(s) of this intersection on the County’s 2002-2008 TIP.
Vice-Chairman Coffey seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, moved to write a letter to the N.C. Department of Transportation as discussed.
Retreat Discussion – County Manager Nelson briefly reviewed proposed retreat topics and parties who wished to address the Board during the retreat. Based on the topics received, Mr. Nelson stated he would draft a proposed agenda for the Board’s consideration. In addition, he reminded the Board of the retreat dates scheduled for Friday, February 2, 2001 (6:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M.) and Saturday, February 3, 2001 (8:00 A.M. to 12:30 P.M.)
Announcements – County Manager Nelson noted the NACo Legislative Conference was scheduled for March 2-6, 2001 in Washington, D.C..
In addition, the N.C. Department of Transportation had scheduled a meeting for January 22, 2001 at 7:00 P.M. at the Stewart Simmons Volunteer Fire Department regarding Jake’s Mountain Road.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, moved to enter Closed Session at 10:07 A.M. to discuss: Attorney/Client Matters, G.S. 143-318.11(a)(3).
Following a brief recess, the Board entered Closed Session at 10:16 A.M.
Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to resume the open meeting at 10:55 A.M.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, moved to adjourn the meeting at 10:55 A.M.
Jimmy Hodges, Chairman
Elizabeth H. Link, Clerk to the Board