The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting on Monday, April 6, 1998 at 9:00 A.M. in the Board Room of the Watauga County Courthouse.


PRESENT: James Coffey, Chairman

Jack D. Lawrence, Sr., Vice-Chairman

Linda S. Craig, Commissioner

Jimmy Hodges, Commissioner

Jack Wellborn, Commissioner

Stacy C. Eggers, Jr., County Attorney

James S. Ratchford, County Manager

Libby Link, Clerk to the Board


Chairman Coffey called the meeting to order at 9:00 A.M. welcoming those in attendance.


A moment of silence was observed.




Chairman Coffey called for additions or corrections to the March 17, 1998 regular and/or special meeting minutes; there being none, they were approved as presented.




Vice-Chairman Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Craig moved to approve the agenda for the April 6, 1998 regular meeting as presented.


VOTE: Aye-5





Tim Gregg, Chief, Blowing Rock Volunteer Fire Department, requested the Board establish a Rural Fire Protection District Commission. This Commission would oversee the use and expenditure of the fire tax district revenues and would serve as an advisory type commission. Mr. Gregg submitted three names for approval and noted that all had agreed to serve a two year term. Those nominated were Dr. Lynn D. George, Reverend J. Richard Holshouser and Mr. Clarence J. Allison.


Commissioner Craig seconded by Commissioner Wellborn, moved to appoint Dr. Lynn D. George, Reverend J. Richard Holshouser and Mr. Clarence J. Allison to the Blowing Rock Rural Fire Protection District Commission.


VOTE: Aye-5





Barbara Barghothi, Area Agency on Aging, Region D Council of Governments, presented the Home and Community Care Block Grant (HCCBG) Advisory Board’s recommendation for funding of Aging Services for FY 98/99. Ms. Barghothi explained that each year the Division of Aging required the HCCBG to make a recommendation to the Board for approval. The funding request listed the estimated revenues for next year’s aging services programs by category.


Vice-Chairman Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Craig, moved to approve this recommendation as presented.


VOTE: Aye-5





Region D Council of Governments (COG) Executive Director, Dick Fender, addressed the Board concerning transportation planning for the County’s seven county region (Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Mitchell Counties). A Regional Transportation Planning Organization (RTPO) was developed for the region. The RTPO would be modeled after the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for transportation planning now functioning in the 17 urban areas of North Carolina. Mr. Fender presented a copy of the Concept Paper for the RTPO which provided more details. He added that Dr. Ron Poole and several key staff members of the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) had reviewed the proposal and had offered their cooperation and assistance within the limits of their staff resources. Mr. Fender stated that this proposal needed the support of local governments in order to be effective. He informed the Board that at this time, there was not unanimous support for this proposal.


It was the consensus of the Board to study the proposal further before making a decision. Mr. Fender stated Region D COG would continue to work on this, because there were some legitimate concerns within the community.




Veterans Service Officer/Safety Director, Jim Harmon, addressed the Board regarding two issues concerning FrontierVision’s cable service. The first issue was about FrontierVision’s proposed rate increase and continuing service problems with their cable service. Mr. Harmon stated FrontierVision had been invited to the Board meeting, however, no representative attended the meeting. A letter (dated February 27, 1998) from FrontierVision was provided to the Board indicating a proposed rate increase effective April 1, 1998.





Basic Service $ 7.30 $ 7.56 $0.26

Expanded Basic Service $12.45 $13.94 $1.49


Mr. Harmon added that the County’s Cable Television Franchise ordinance indicated a public hearing was necessary whenever there was a proposed increase in rates. However, FrontierVision did not think a public hearing was necessary. It was noted that although FrontierVision’s service remained poor, rates could be raised. After discussion, it was the consensus of the Board to hold a public hearing in order to receive the public’s input.


Mr. Harmon stated the second issue concerned FrontierVision’s local office. FrontierVision insisted the local office met the County’s requirement. The local office was manned 5 days/week, 8 hours/day and residents could make payments at this location. However, if one had a complaint, the phone call went to a FrontierVision office in Greenville, SC. Mr. Harmon noted that FrontierVision had been issued 90 days to improve service problems and establish a local office (the 90 day period would expire May 31, 1998). At the end of this period, if FrontierVision had not complied, the County’s ordinance could be amended.


After discussion, Commissioner Craig seconded by Vice-Chairman Lawrence, moved to schedule a public hearing for the April 21, 1998 regular meeting and requested that County Attorney Eggers and County Manager Ratchford write a letter to the FCC regarding these concerns and to forward a copy of the letter to Congressmen Ballenger and Burr and Senators Helms and Faircloth.


VOTE: Aye-5





A. Monthly Collections Report – Tax Administrator, Larry McLean, presented the Tax Collections Report for the month of March, 1998.


B. Refunds and Releases – Tax Administrator McLean presented the following Refunds and Releases for March, 1998 for Board approval:




Commissioner Wellborn seconded by Commissioner Hodges, moved to approve the Refunds and Releases Report as presented.


VOTE: Aye-5



C. Board of E&R Discovery Appeals Resolution – Tax Administrator McLean presented a resolution to the Board for adoption which would confer the authority to decide on discovery bill appeals to the Board of Equalization and Review (E&R). This resolution delegated to the 1998 Watauga County Board of E&R the authority to adjust, compromise or settle County claims arising as the result of discovered property. (The Board had voted to continue to serve as the County’s Board of E&R for 1998 at the March 2, 1998 regular meeting.) Mr. McLean felt that the adoption of this resolution would be better administratively for both the County and the Appellate.


Vice-Chairman Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Wellborn, moved to adopt this resolution.


VOTE: Aye-5








Social Services Director, Jim Atkinson, presented the standard monthly report for that Department. This report was for the Board’s information.




A. Electric Deregulation Issue – County Manager Ratchford presented a draft letter for the Chairman’s signature that expressed the Board’s thoughts and concerns concerning the issue of whether or not North Carolina should allow retail competition among electric utilities. The Board stated concerns that the residents in the rural areas would not be well served. The Board’s concerns included questions about the benefit of deregulation, the reliability of the system and quality service being provided to citizens throughout the County.


After discussion, Commissioner Wellborn seconded by Commissioner Craig, moved to have Bob Frye attend the April 9, 1998 meeting regarding electric deregulation as the Board’s representative and present this letter.


VOTE: Aye-5



B. Budget Amendments – County Manager Ratchford presented the following budget amendments for Board approval:


Account # Description Debit Credit



103991-399101 Fund Bal. Approp.-New 2,435

106000-469500 Contracted Services 1,800

106000-429000 Other Supplies 635


To appropriate funds for 1st phase of Sesquicentennial celebration planning as approved at the March 17th board meeting.


Account # Description Debit Credit



103586-384000 Donations-Wat. Shares 4,000

105550-451000 Cap. Out.-Furn. 4,000


To recognize donation received from Watauga Shares to purchase a new piano for the Lois Harrill Senior Center.


Account # Description Debit Credit



103586-332005 Human Ser. Grant 20,000

105550-451000 Capital Out.-Furn & Equip. 16,500

105550-455000 Cap. Out.-Other 3,500


To recognize award of N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Resources Grant to purchase furniture and equipment for Lois Harrill Senior Center. Application approved at December 1st Board meeting.


Account # Description Debit Credit



103586-332000 Home & Comm. Care Block Grant 12,354

105550-469511 Contracted Ser.-Health Screening 1,866

105550-422000 Food & Provisions 6,488

105550-429200 Program Supplies 4,000


To recognize additional Block Grant funds reverted from other counties. These funds will be used to cover health screening, and home delivered meals expenses. Approved at the March 2nd Board meeting.


Account # Description Debit Credit



103586-332001 Medicaid Reimb. Fees 30,000

105550-412600 Part-time Salaries 30,000


To recognize additional revenue received due to additional Medicaid eligible expenses.


Vice-Chairman Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Wellborn, moved to approve the above budget amendments as presented.


VOTE: Aye-5



C. Surplus Property – County Manager Ratchford submitted three lists of County property (from the fixed asset record) that needed to be declared surplus and either transferred, disposed or sold as requested:


Removal of Items from Fixed Asset Record



Department Asset # Description Reason



Project on Aging 03887 Food Carrier Scrapped

Board of Elections 01056 Green Secretarial Chair Scrapped

05025 Black Fabric Secretarial Chair Scrapped

Maintenance 08088 Versamatic Vacuum Cleaner Used for Parts

Parks & Rec 08479 Mita Dc-3255 Copier Traded In

04376 60" Mowing Deck Kubota Tractor Used for Parts

08461 Konica 1290 Copier Traded In

Project on Aging 02868 Living Room Group Scrapped


Transfer of Furniture – Watauga Business Center (CCC&TI)


Asset # Description



04389 Executive Desk

04390-91 (2) Jr. Executive Desks

04392-94 (3) Executive Swivel Armchairs

04395-98 (4) Armchairs

04399-400 Secretarial Desk and Chair

04401-38 (38) Formica Top Folding Tables 30x60

04439-55 (17) Computech Workstation 24x30

04456-65 (10) Computech Bi-Level Table 24x36

04472-76 (5) Literature Racks 23 Compartment

04477-78 (2) Rotating Literature Racks 40 Compartment

04483 Announcement Board

04484-90 (6) Literature Centers

04494-04503 (10) 4-Drawer File Drawers/Black

04504-08 (5) 2-Door Cabinets/Black

04509-55 (44) A-1 Task Chairs

07972-08005 (34) F3958 Modular Partitions-Straight

08006-12 (7) F3968 Modular Partitions-90 Radius

00109-A (3) Carrier 5-Ton Heat Pumps

02216 Stainless Steel Serving Cart

02217 Jackson Dishwasher

02243 (6) Storage Cabinets

04072 Vacuum Cleaner



Sale of Card Catalogs – Watauga County


Permission was requested to remove the following card catalogs from the fixed asset record. These were sold at a public auction held by the Watauga County Library in May, 1997. The proceeds of $145.00 have been remitted to the County by the library for the sale of the catalogs. The value of these assets is $300.00.



Department Asset # Description



Library 01499 30 Drawer Card Catalog

01483 30 Drawer Card Catalog

01500 30 Drawer Card Catalog


Commissioner Hodges seconded by Commissioner Wellborn, moved to approve the sale, transfer, trade-in and disposal as recommended by the Finance Department.


VOTE: Aye-5



D. Sheriff’s Records Retention Schedule – County Manager Ratchford stated the Sheriff had requested that the Board adopt a new Records Retention Schedule for the Sheriff’s Department. This new version superseded the schedule issued in 1982. The new schedule was issued by the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources Division of Archives and History. It acted as a guide for disposing of old and unneeded public records in custody of that department. In addition, the new schedule included many new listings and greatly expanded series descriptions and disposition instructions.


Commissioner Craig seconded by Commissioner Wellborn, moved to adopt the new retention schedule for the Sheriff’s Department as presented.


VOTE: Aye-5



E. Agent’s Resolution (FEMA) – County Manager Ratchford presented a Designation of Applicant’s Agent resolution requesting the Board appoint Fire Marshal, Lisa Shoun, to act on the County’s behalf to facilitate the FEMA damage recovery program. This was as a result of the County’s Presidential Declaration of the snowstorm and floods recently experienced in January of this year. The purpose of this resolution was to give FEMA and the N.C. Division of Emergency Management a contact person should any questions arise during recovery efforts.


Vice-Chairman Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Hodges, moved to approve this resolution which appointed Fire Marshal, Lisa Shoun, to act as the County’s representative.


VOTE: Aye-5






F. Secondary Roads Addition – County Manager Ratchford presented a request for the addition of Hawks Nest Drive (off NCSR 1646) to the State Maintained Secondary Road System.


Commissioner Craig seconded by Vice-Chairman Lawrence, moved to approve the above request be forwarded to the N.C. DOT for consideration.


VOTE: Aye-5






G. Announcements – County Manager Ratchford reminded the Board of the N.C. Association of County Commissioners’ Joint District Meeting and Pre-Meeting Training Meeting to be held on April 30, 1998 from 9:30 A.m. to 2:30 P.M. in Statesville, N.C.


County Manager Ratchford also informed the Board of a Public Hearing by the N.C. Department of Transportation for the proposed improvements to US Highway 321 (Hardin Street) from SR 1163 (Rivers Street) to US Highway 421 – NC 194 in Boone. This Public Hearing was scheduled for April 22, 1998 at 7 p.m. in the Town of Boone Council Chambers.


County Manager Ratchford proposed Special Meetings on May 26, 27 and 28 at 6:00 p.m. for budget work sessions to be held in the Administrative Office Conference Room.




Commissioner Craig seconded by Commissioner Wellborn, moved to adjourn the meeting at 10:05 A.M.


VOTE: Aye-5






James Coffey








Elizabeth H. Link

Clerk to the Board