WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2000
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting on Tuesday, February 22, 2000 at 7:00 P.M. in Courtroom #1 of the Watauga County Courthouse.
PRESENT: Jimmy Hodges, Chairman
Sue Sweeting, Vice-Chairman
James Coffey, 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 7:00 P.M. welcoming those in attendance. In addition, he gave an opening prayer. Commissioner Kohles was out of town and unable to attend the meeting.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Chairman Hodges called for additions or corrections to the February 7, 2000 regular and closed session meeting minutes.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to approve the February 7, 2000 regular and closed session meeting minutes as presented.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the agenda for the February 22, 2000 regular meeting as presented.
PUBLIC HEARING – COUNTY GOVERNMENT
ANNOUNCED CABLE RATE INCREASE
Chairman Hodges declared a public hearing open at 7:03 P.M. to consider changes to Charter Communications’ basic service rates.
Mr. Tony Barlage, Charter Communications Regional Manager, addressed the Board stating Charter Communications proposed the following rate increase effective March 1, 2000:
Old Rate New Rate
Limited Basic $13.45 $13.45
Supervalue Basic $28.90 $32.89
Mr. Barlage explained these changes were the result of the launches of new programming as well as increased operating and capital costs which included inflationary increases. In addition, all customers who received the Supervalue Basic package would receive the Disney channel free (formerly sold at $10.00/month). Several of the Board members asked Mr. Barlage the difference between the Limited and Supervalue Basic packages. Mr. Barlage stated customers could change from the Supervalue Basic package to the Limited Basic package, but he was unsure of the charge. Although the rate increase affected the Supervalue Basic package, Mr. Barlage did not foresee an increase in the Limited Basic package fee of $13.45/month. In addition, he agreed to send a notice in the cable bills that customers could change from the Supervalue Basic package to the Limited Basic package if so desired.
Ms. Cleo Greene Rhyne, Mr. John Bradsher, Ms. Danielle Butson, and Mr. John Sweitzer all voiced their concerns regarding the rate increase and the quality of programs offered.
Chairman Hodges stated that the Board had no control over the rate increase but encouraged those in attendance to write their congressmen and senators in order to get this process changed. There being no further public comment, Chairman Hodges declared the public hearing closed at 7:25 P.M.
PUBLIC HEARING – COUNTY GOVERNMENT
PROPOSED ORDINANCE TO REGULATE SEXUALLY ORIENTED BUSINESSES
Chairman Hodges declared a public hearing open at 7:25 P.M. to consider the proposed Ordinance to Regulate Sexually Oriented Businesses.
Planning & Inspections Director, Joe Furman, addressed the Board stating that he, County Attorney Hedrick, and the Planning Board had worked together on this ordinance. He stated that the Board of Commissioners had adopted an Ordinance Establishing a 180-day moratorium on sexually oriented businesses in the County. (Clerk’s note: This was adopted at the Board’s September 10, 1999 special meeting). Mr. Furman noted the moratorium expired the first week in March, 2000, therefore, he stated this was a very timely hearing. He felt this was a very comprehensive ordinance that was very restrictive, however, should "stand up" under any legal challenge on a constitutional basis. He reviewed several of the key features included in the ordinance:
· Initial and annual licensing for businesses as well as entertainers and employees.
· Background checks of owners and employees.
· Locational restrictions which limited business locations to federal aid primary system highways only, and required separation from residences of 660 feet, from schools, churches, etc. of 1500 feet, from other sexually oriented businesses of 1500 feet.
· Patrons and employees must be at least 21 years old.
· Sale and consumption of alcohol was prohibited.
· Total nudity was prohibited.
· A 10 foot separation between patrons and entertainers was required.
· Hours of operation were regulated, including prohibition of operating on Sundays.
· Exterior appearance was addressed regarding signage, lighting, parking, and plantings.
Mr. Furman stated several of the Planning Board members were in attendance to answer any questions. He answered Board members’ questions regarding some of the language in the ordinance.
Mr. Joe Delk, an attorney representing citizens from the Deep Gap area, addressed the Board stating he had reviewed the proposed ordinance and had discussed its language with County Attorney Hedrick. He felt this ordinance was well written and represented the balance between constitutional free speech and protecting Watauga County.
Mr. Gary Childers, principal at Parkway School, stated he was in attendance representing the children who attended Parkway School. He thanked the Board for addressing this issue and understood that this ordinance was as strict as possible.
Mr. Jerry Craig voiced his concerns that if a sexually oriented business opened in the County that it would bring more crime and detrimental people to the County.
There being no further public comment, Chairman Hodges declared the public hearing closed at 7:50 p.m. Chairman Hodges commended Mr. Furman, County Attorney Hedrick, and the Planning Board members for the hard work they had done in completing this ordinance.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to adopt the proposed ordinance with the recommended changes as discussed.
ORDINANCE BOOK #10, PAGE #4
PUBLIC HEARING – COUNTY GOVERNMENT
Chairman Hodges declared a public hearing open at 7:52 P.M. to consider the adoption of new road names for Watauga County.
Planning & Inspections Director, Joe Furman, stated a public hearing was required by general statutes (NCGS 153A-239.1) and presented the following road names for approval:
Bald Mountain Township Ladybug Lane
Deer Crossing Palmers Peak
Floaters Way Quick Way
Grooms Lane Ridge View Drive
Mountain Vista Sassyfrass Lane
Tula Lane Tenessia’s Way
Will Bingham Drive Extension
Beaver Dam Township Willowbrook Lane
Bear Track Lane
Jakob Lane Cove Creek Township
Seasons Drive Cabin Hill Lane
Christ Church Drive
Blowing Rock Township Feuder’s Hill
Boulder Lane Fred R. Greene Drive
Deer Ridge Lane Green Berry Lane
East Indrio Road Lost Ridge Trail
West Indrio Road Miller Lane
East Stone Drive Snowy Lane
West Stone Drive Spring Hope Drive
Evergreen Springs Court Change Turkey Pen Gap Road
Owen Road to Fall Creek Road
Park View Lane
Rippling Brook Way Elk Township
Timber Creek Drive Buckskin Hollow
Woodbine Way Floating Mist Lane
Change Quail Hollow Circle to Moonlight Ridge Road
Laurel Creek Township
Blue Ridge Township Moonshine Lane
Clearwater Springs Trail
Cotton Tail Trail Meat Camp Township
Fern Forest Lane John Henry Drive
Glen View Road Misty Mountain Road
Hartley Knob Road Poplar Creek Estates Drive
Oak Leaf Trail New River Township
Regency Lane Brittany Lane
Samaritan Lane Buckshot Circle
Summer Acres High Hopes
Summit Creek Trail Hope Haven Lane
Walking Woods Lane North Wild Cherry Circle
South Wild Cherry Circle
Brushy Fork Township Springwood Drive Extension
Seven Devils Township Watauga Township
Otter Trail Addison Road
Shawneehaw Township Bordeaux Lane
Davis Ridge Craig’s Way
Merlin’s Court Crestwood Forest Drive
Snow Wind Road Inn at Crestwood Drive
Turkey Crossing Lane Jonathan Way
Lucky Leaf Lane
Stony Fork Township Merlot Lane
All Hallows Road Nicolas Path
Bear Creek Lane Olimpia’s Way
Born Again Drive Rio Vista Lane
Cabin Fever Lane St. John’s Ridge
D&M Mobile Home Park Stan’s Way
Doe Valley Lane Sylvan Trail
High Knolls Lane The Last Road
Little Jake Road Thistle Way
Old Hatch Lane Townsend Trail
S.P.I. Road Woodvalley Lane
There being no public comment regarding the above new road names, Chairman Hodges declared the public hearing closed at 7:54 P.M.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the new road name list as presented.
PUBLIC HEARING – COUNTY GOVERNMENT
AMBULANCE FRANCHISE ORDINANCE AMENDMENTS
Chairman Hodges declared a public hearing open at 7:54 P.M. to consider changes to the Watauga County Ambulance Franchise Ordinance.
County Manager Nelson recommended the following amendments:
In Section IV, paragraph 4.5, the requirement that the Board designated the communications center by resolution was deleted.
In Section X, paragraph 10.1, the County was currently listed as additional named insured. The correct language was the County shall be named as additional insured.
In addition, the amounts listed in Section 10.1 A & B were listed as $2,000,000. The correct amount in those should be $1,000,000.
In Section XV, paragraph 15.2, Fire Commission President or Designee should be Fire Commission Chairman or Designee.
There being no public comment, Chairman Hodges declared the public hearing closed at 7:57 P.M.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the amendments to the Watauga County Ambulance Franchise Ordinance as recommended.
WATAUGA MEDICAL CENTER CERTIFICATE OF NEED APPLICATION
Mr. Richard Sparks, President/CEO of Watauga Medical Center, presented an application for a certificate of need regarding renovations that were requested at Watauga Medical Center. Since the County (Lessor) leased the property to Watauga Medical Center (Lessee), the Lessor needed to be made aware that the Lessee had applied for a certificate of need application.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the Watauga Medical Center Certificate of Need Application as presented.
Prior to the vote, Vice-Chairman Sweeting stated that in recent months, she had received phone calls from County residents voicing concerns about Watauga Medical Center and asked Mr. Sparks what could be done to alleviate their concerns. Mr. Sparks stated that he and/or any one of the Medical Center Board of Trustees’ members were available to hear concerns and welcomed citizen input. In addition, Vice-Chairman Sweeting asked what citizens should do who were interested in serving on the Medical Center’s Board of Trustees. Mr. Sparks suggested interested parties should submit their requests in writing for consideration each year in August or September and to submit the requests to his office.
The following vote was then made on Commissioner Lawrence’s motion:
COUNTY AUDIT CONTRACT PROPOSAL
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 2000. This contract was for the second year of the 3-year contract which was approved by the Board at its May 3, 1999 regular meeting. The contract was for time spent at an hourly rate of $32 not to exceed $29,900 plus out of pocket costs.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to approve the Holder, Copeland & Associates, P.A. contract as presented.
SHERIFF DEPARTMENT MATTERS
Contract with New River Behavioral HealthCare – Sheriff James C. "Red" Lyons and Ms. Gail Hawkinson, Director of New River Behavioral HealthCare (NRBH)-Watauga Programs, addressed the Board requesting approval of a contract between NRBH and the Sheriff’s Department. This contract would include the amount of $12,000 paid to the Sheriff’s Department for services to incarcerated individuals that would decrease and prevent involuntary commitments, assist in identifying inmates in need of mental health and/or substance abuse treatment and participate in the arrangement for appropriate treatment while in the County jail. This payment was in effect from the date that the contract was approved and signed until June 30, 2000. The Sheriff proposed using the funds received ($12,000) to hire an off duty officer to assist with transporting the inmates. Ms. Hawkinson stated that during 1999, the County had 122 involuntary inmate commitments to psychiatric and/or substance abuse treatment centers. Ms. Hawkinson requested the Board’s approval to use the funds received from the State ($12,000) for this purpose. County Attorney Hedrick stated that if the Board approved this request, that he and Ms. Hawkinson would draft a proposal.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to approve this request.
Surplus Vehicles – Sheriff James C. "Red" Lyons stated the following vehicles needed to be declared as surplus property:
1991 Blazer VIN #118321
1991 Crown Victoria VIN #171647
1994 Crown Victoria VIN #159614
1994 Crown Victoria VIN #159382
However, Sheriff Lyons felt that one of the Crown Victorias could be used for transporting inmates as previously discussed, so therefore, needed to declare two Crown Victorias as surplus as well as the 1981 Blazer. Vice-Chairman Sweeting asked Sheriff Lyons if he had contacted Ms. Pat Coley to see if she was interested in using the Blazer for the Work First program. (Clerk’s note: discussed at the Board’s October 4, 1999 regular meeting). County Attorney Hedrick stated DSS Attorney, Diane Griffin, had contacted him to discuss this matter, however, she had not been back in touch with him. County Attorney Hedrick stated he would contact Ms. Griffin regarding the surplus vehicles, and the Sheriff stated he would determine which of the Crown Victorias to retain. No Board action was taken.
911/Dispatching Proposal – Sheriff James C. "Red" Lyons introduced Captain Paula Townsend who addressed the Board regarding the software and hardware that needed to be replaced (by the end of calendar year 2000) in the County’s 911/Dispatching Center. She stated the Sheriff’s Department had been awarded a grant by the N.C. Governor’s Crime Commission for this purpose in the amount of $45,333.33 of which the Board had committed to cover 25% or $11,333.33 of the project cost. Captain Townsend proposed a contract amount of $102,015 for the necessary software to update the County’s dispatch center. The upgrade would also require new hardware and networking to bring the total cost of this project to approximately $144,015. In addition, Captain Townsend recommended that the County "piggy-back" the bid proposed to the Lee County’s Sheriff’s Office by Southern Software. Lee County’s needs were very similar to the County’s needs, and Captain Townsend was satisfied with the service reputation of Southern Software Company. Ms. Glenda Duncan, Data Processing Director, stated there were sufficient funds budgeted in the Data Processing capital reserve fund to cover this expense ($42,333).
Sheriff Lyons informed the Board that he and former County Manager, Barry Reed, had met with local officials regarding the consolidation of the Town’s and County’s E-911 system. However, nothing had transpired following that meeting.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to approve the Sheriff’s Department proposal to "piggy-back" the contract as presented, to advertise for this purpose per statute, and to take the necessary funding ($42,333) from the Data Processing capital reserve funds.
Following brief discussion, it was the consensus of the Board for County Manager Nelson to contact the parties who had met earlier in regards to consolidating the Town’s and County’s E-911 system to see if they were still interested in pursuing this matter.
COVE CREEK INCUBATOR REQUEST
Ms. Marion Sofield, Economic Development Director, presented a proposal requesting up to $35,000 from the County’s reserve fund to pay for renovations to the cafeteria at the old Cove Creek school. Ms. Sofield stated there was a client who wished to occupy the cafeteria and a portion of the rock building at the old Cove Creek school. She had spoken with Mr. David Triplett, Director of Physical Operations with the Board of Education, who had agreed to send several staff members to assist with this project. Ms. Sofield agreed to discuss this venture with County Maintenance Supervisor, Robert Marsh, due to possible asbestos contamination. She added this client proposed hiring 5-10 employees at a starting rate of $8.00/hour and requested the Board’s approval. County Manager Nelson stated there was $700,000 in the EDC capital reserve budget line, and this would be an appropriate expense should the Board approve this request.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to approve the Economic Development Commission request to appropriate up to $35,000 from the capital reserve fund for this project.
MISCELLANEOUS ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS
A. Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Proposal – County Manager Nelson stated this was the annual EAP contract with New River Behavioral HealthCare which provided mental health services for County employees. He noted that the contract was basically the same as in prior years with one exception, each visit would cost the County $25, (which was previously $10 per visit) and employees were eligible for three free visits a year for counseling. Mr. Nelson felt this was a good program adding funds were available to cover this expense.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to approve renewal of the Employee Assistance Program Proposal for calendar year 2000.
B. Proclamation Honoring Elizabeth Mueller – County Manager Nelson stated a request had been received to issue a proclamation in appreciation of Elizabeth Mueller who had recently retired as Director of the Appalachian Regional Library system. He presented a proclamation for the Board’s consideration.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to approve the proclamation as presented.
C. CCC&TI Advisory Committee Appointments – County Manager Nelson noted the following had resigned their positions on the CCC&TI (Watauga County) Advisory Committee: Mr. Mack Greer (who apparently had left the area) and Mr. Jim Ratchford (who was relocating to Germany). Dr. Sandra Anderson, CCC&TI Director of Watauga Campus, requested Dr. Chuck Claxton to fill Mr. Greer’s unexpired term (term expired 8/31/00) and Mr. Jeff Voss to fill Mr. Ratchford’s unexpired term (term also expired 8/31/00).
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to appoint Dr. Chuck Claxton and Mr. Jeff Voss to the CCC&TI (Watauga County) Advisory Committee as requested.
D. BCC Retreat Tentative Agenda – County Manager Nelson stated the following dates had been scheduled for the Board’s retreat: March 17, 2000 (5:30 – 10:00 P.M.) and March 18, 2000 (7:45 A.M. – 1:00 P.M.). He briefly reviewed items for discussion stating the agenda was tentative, and if the Board had any concerns or wished to add/delete any items, the agenda could be amended. This item was for the Board’s information and review.
E. Water Line Easement – County Manager Nelson presented an easement for the water line to be constructed on the landfill property to serve homes in Rocky Mountain Heights. It was a standard easement, and both Planning & Inspections Director, Joe Furman, and County Attorney Hedrick had reviewed the easement. It was noted that if the easement was granted, there was an understanding that the County would be allowed to tap on to this line in the future should the need arise. Vice-Chairman Sweeting voiced her concerns that the County should be able to tap on to the lines at no costs to the County. Mr. Furman stated he had discussed the easement with Boone Town Manager, Greg Young, who indicated construction would begin in early March. If the easement was not approved, it would cause a delay for this project, and Mr. Furman recommended the Board’s approval.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the water line easement contingent on being resolved by staff.
County Manager Nelson informed the Board that he had been working with Jim Harmon, Veterans Service Officer/Safety Director, Robert Marsh, Maintenance Supervisor, and representatives from Charter Communications in order to televise the Board’s meetings. They would be tape delayed (Charter Communications did not have the line capacity to broadcast the meetings live). In addition, this service was being provided at no charge to the County. It was anticipated that this would be accomplished for the Board’s regular meeting scheduled for March 6, 2000. This item was for the Board’s information.
County Manager Nelson reminded the Board and County Attorney Hedrick about the Report to the People luncheon scheduled for March 6, 2000 at 12:00 P.M. sponsored by the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service.
In addition, County Manager Nelson stated the N.C. Association of County Commissioners 2000 Regional Meeting was scheduled for April 12, 2000 in Statesville, N.C. from 6:00 – 8:00 P.M.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to enter Closed Session at 8:50 P.M. to discuss: Land Acquisition, G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5)(i) and Personnel Matters, G.S. 143-318.11(a)(6).
Following a brief recess, the Board entered Closed Session at 8:58 P.M.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to resume the regular meeting at 9:20 P.M.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:20 P.M.
Elizabeth H. Link
Clerk to the Board