MONDAY, MAY 4, 1998



The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting on Monday, May 4, 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 April 21, 1998 regular minutes; there being none, they were approved as presented.




Chairman Coffey called for additions or corrections to the May 4, 1998 agenda.


County Manager Ratchford requested that Items 5 and 14 be deleted.


Commissioner Craig seconded by Vice-Chairman Lawrence, moved to approve the agenda for the May 4, 1998 regular meeting with the amendment.


VOTE: Aye-5





Chairman Coffey introduced Ms. Jean Teague, Representative for the Citizens Against Pollution (CAP) 105 Group, and stated that Mr. Wylie Roark, Vice-President of Maymead Materials, Inc. would also address the Board. Ms. Teague voiced her concerns about the re-opening of Maymead’s Highway 105 asphalt plant which was located next to the Vulcan Quarry. Though the plant was physically new, its permit was granted before new evidence concerning the dangers of fugitive emissions was known. The Board thanked Ms. Teague for providing this information on asphalt pollution prior to the meeting. Ms. Teague asked the Board to send a letter to Mr. Alan Klimek, Director, N.C. Division of Air Quality, requesting that in the reopening of Maymead’s permit, DAQ perform toxic air pollutant modeling at this site. Dr. Bill Horn, Mr. Seth Ross, Ms. Virginia MacLeod and Mr. Hunter Schofield also voiced their concerns about the environment and health of the residents located near the Highway 105 site.


Mr. Wiley Roark, Vice-President of Maymead Materials, Inc. addressed the Board and stated he knew there had been a good deal of complaints and concerns from citizens regarding fugitive emissions from asphalt plants. He noted that studies had been done which proved that asphalt plants in the mountains would not exceed the state levels for benzene emission and would provide the Board with this information. The Board requested this information and voiced concerns relative to receiving contradictory information from different parties involved in this controversy. Mr. Roark indicated this data had been provided by Mr. Alan Klimek, DAQ, who was concerned about atmospheric conditions. Mr. Roark added that he felt citizens had legitimate concerns, and although Maymead’s permit was granted under the old standards, the amount of asphalt being produced would not endanger the health of citizens.


The Board reiterated that the operating permit was a State issue and could not be considered at a County level. The Board noted that Maymead Materials should not be "singled out", and this issue concerned all asphalt plants located in the County. In addition, any decision made would impact future industrial plants relocating to Watauga County. The Board acknowledged that Mr. Roark was in a better position to hear the concerns of citizens and requested that he work to ensure their health and safety.


After discussion, Commissioner Hodges seconded by Commissioner Wellborn, moved for County Manager Ratchford or County Attorney Eggers to contact Mr. Alan Klimek’s office as soon as possible to obtain the County’s options regarding this issue.


VOTE: Aye-5




Budget requests for fiscal year 1998/99 were presented by the following:


Mr. Danny Staley Appalachian District Health Department

Dr. Ken Boham Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute


Dr. Boham stated that multi-county funding designations had been given to various multi-county community college systems in the State and hoped to receive this funding designation for CCC&TI.


Commissioner Craig seconded by Vice-Chairman Lawrence, moved to request the local legislative delegation’s support of the multi-county funding designation for CCC&TI.


VOTE: Aye-5



Ms. Beth Mueller Appalachian Regional Library

Mr. Reggie Hassler Boone Fire/Rural Fire District

Mr. Jack James Volunteer Outreach Center

Ms. Jennifer Herman Oasis

Ms. Martha Hester Council on the Status of Women

Ms. Ceia Webb/Ms. Sarah Mast Hunger Coalition




Social Services Director, Jim Atkinson, presented the standard monthly report for that Department. In addition, Mr. Atkinson stated the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services had purchased four new software packages from David M. Griffith and Associates, LTD (DMG) for implementation in the county DSS offices. The four packages purchased were Quarterly Information Consolidation System (QuIC), Time and Effort Calculation System (TEC), Program Expenditure Tracking System (PET) and Project Accounting for Contracts System (PAC) which would enable counties to provide information to the State more efficiently. The first 12 months support and maintenance were at no additional cost, however, for all four modules the maintenance (which was the responsibility of the County) would be $2,400 per year. There would be no price increase for three years.

Commissioner Craig seconded by Commissioner Wellborn, moved to approve this request contingent upon County Attorney Eggers’ review.

VOTE: Aye-5





A. Monthly Collections Report – Tax Collections Director, Merle Adams, presented the Tax Collections Report for the month of April, 1998.


B. Refunds and Releases – Tax Collections Director Adams presented the following Refunds and Releases for April, 1998 for Board approval:




Vice-Chairman Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Wellborn, moved to approve the Refunds and Releases Report as presented.



VOTE: Aye-5





A. Growth Issues Commission – Mr. Rick Mattar, Chair, County Planning Board, addressed the Board regarding the Board’s request for the Planning Board to recommend a method of selecting members for a "Blue Ribbon Growth Study Commission". This Commission would address the polluting industries type regulatory issues as well as some of the other more general growth type issues which the County was experiencing. The Planning Board had discussed this at length, and to ensure the County was well represented, recommended that two individuals from each of the eleven rural fire districts be appointed to this Commission. In addition, this Commission should include a County Commissioner and a Planning Board member. The Board agreed that it was a good suggestion to receive names from individuals with the rural fire districts because these individuals best knew the residents in those districts. The Board requested a minimum of four names from each rural fire district, however, more names could be submitted. This Commission would serve a definite period of time, and the nominees would be notified of the length of term. Mr. Mattar stated that although this Commission did not include the towns, ASU and other organizations, they would be encouraged to attend the Commission meetings. He proposed that the Board write a letter to the rural fire districts requesting nominees as well as advertising for nominees through the media in order to start this Commission in July or August, 1998.


After discussion, Commissioner Hodges seconded by Commissioner Wellborn, moved to authorize Planning & Inspections Director, Joe Furman to proceed with these preliminary procedures to form this Commission.


VOTE: Aye-5



B. Subdivision Plat Notification Procedures – Mr. Mattar also addressed the Board regarding notification procedures for subdivision plat review. This was in response to the Board’s request at the March 17, 1998 regular meeting following the approval of the new County Subdivision Ordinance. Mr. Mattar stated the Planning Board had discussed this at length (reviewing the current process as well as various options amending the procedure) with the result that the Planning Board recommended no changes in the current process. The plat submission deadline had been established for many years, and the Planning Board had no discretion to deny plats which met the standards of the regulations. The Planning Board’s monthly meeting was always held the third Monday of each month, and residents’ comments were heard. The Board voiced concerns that residents should be made aware of happenings in their neighborhoods and surrounding areas. Mr. Mattar stated the Planning Board agreed that if residents came to a meeting and discovered their inputs did not make a difference, it would cause ill will and would not be beneficial. After discussion, it was the consensus of the Board of Commissioners not to change the current process.



C. Parking Management Agreement – Planning & Inspections Director, Joe Furman, stated the County had a verbal agreement with McLaurin Parking Company to assist with monitoring and managing the County’s various parking areas mostly in the Courthouse area, however, it was not a written agreement. Mr. Furman added this agreement was for a two-year term (April 1, 1998 through March 31, 2000). The County had been pleased with McLaurin Parking’s performance, and Mr. Furman recommended the written agreement be approved.


Vice-Chairman Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Wellborn, moved to approve this written agreement with McLaurin Parking Company as presented.


VOTE: Aye-5



D. Emergency Management Grant – Planning & Inspections Director, Joe Furman, requested an application be submitted to the State for State and Local Assistance (SLA) funding for Fiscal Year ’98 (October 1, 1997 – September 30, 1998). Mr. Furman noted this was a small emergency management grant that the County received each year to help offset the costs of running this program.


Commissioner Hodges seconded by Commissioner Wellborn, moved to approve this grant application.


VOTE: Aye-5





A. Carpet Bids – County Manager Ratchford noted the following bids had been received to replace the carpet in the Courthouse:


Pearlman’s Carpets Carpet $17,975

Asheville, NC Re-Base $ 1,125




Wilson Floor Covering Carpet $26,520

Lexington, NC Re-Base $ 2,040




Mr. Ratchford recommended the Board approve the low bidder, Pearlman’s Carpets.


Commissioner Wellborn seconded by Vice-Chairman Lawrence, moved to approve the Pearlman’s Carpets bid of $19,100.


VOTE: Aye-5



B. Boards & Commissions – County Manager Ratchford noted the following board members terms had expired: Mr. James Wilcox, Mr. Carroll Garland, Ms. Margaret Johnston, Mr. Tim Wilson, Region D Certified Development Corporation (SBA 504 Certified Development Corporation Board.


Vice-Chairman Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Hodges, moved to reappoint the current members, Mr. James Wilcox, Mr. Carroll Garland, Ms. Margaret Johnson and Mr. Tim Wilson to the Region D Certified Development Corporation subject to their agreement to be reappointed.


VOTE: Aye-5



C. Solid Waste Contract Update – County Manager Ratchford updated the Board on possible changes in the Waste Management contract for disposal of the County’s solid waste. Mr. Ratchford stated the County’s current contract was with Waste Management of the Carolinas under which the trash was disposed at the Piedmont Landfill in Kernersville, N.C. He added that Piedmont Landfill had experienced some difficulties getting an expansion permit. A good option for the County would be to redirect the waste to Iris Glen Environmental Center operated by Waste Management in Johnson City, TN. Mr. Ratchford proposed to terminate the contract with Piedmont Landfill and begin going to the new facility, Iris Glen Environmental Center. This facility was closer than Piedmont Landfill, and the County would have the same arrangements at no additional cost. Mr. Ratchford added this site had good expansion, and upon request, arrangements would be made if the Commissioners chose to view the site.


D. Family Medical Leave Act Policy – County Manager Ratchford stated a policy needed to be established indicating when the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) coverage for eligible employees would begin. Under the FMLA an employee’s insurance would continue to be paid, and the employees would have the same job (or equivalent position with equivalent pay) upon returning to work. The County would grant up to 12 weeks of family and medical leave to eligible employees. He suggested the FMLA policy should start with the onset of the qualifying condition.


After discussion, Commissioner Hodges seconded by Commissioner Wellborn, moved to adopt the FMLA policy as presented.


VOTE: Aye-5



E. Announcements – County Manager Ratchford reminded the Board that May 26, 27, and 28, 1998 at 6:00 p.m. had been scheduled for budget work sessions to be held in the Administrative Office Conference Room.


Mr. Ratchford also informed the Board of the Legislative Briefing and Reception in Raleigh scheduled for June 3, 1998 beginning at 2:00 p.m.




Commissioner Craig seconded by Commissioner Wellborn, moved to enter closed session at 12:15 P.M. to discuss: Attorney/Client Matters – G.S. 143-318.11 (a) (3), Software Contracts.


VOTE: Aye-5


Commissioner Craig seconded by Vice-Chairman Lawrence, moved to resume the regular meeting at 1:13 P.M.


VOTE: Aye-5


Commissioner Hodges seconded by Vice-Chairman Lawrence, moved that based on the confirmation of a sale from EDS to Keystone by close of business on May 6, 1998 that the County notify Computer Center Software of cancellation of their contract.

VOTE: Aye-5





Commissioner Craig seconded by Vice-Chairman Lawrence, moved to adjourn the meeting at 1:15 P.M.


VOTE: Aye-5






James Coffey








Elizabeth H. Link

Clerk to the Board