The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a joint meeting with the Watauga County Board of Education at 6:00 P.M. on Tuesday, September 3, 2019, in the Gymnasium of Valle Crucis School, Sugar Grove, North Carolina.


Those present were:  Chairman Welch, Vice-Chairman Kennedy, Commissioner Turnbow, Commissioner Wallin, Commissioner Yates, County Manager Geouque, and Clerk to the Board Fogle.  Others present were as follows:  Board of Education Members:  Ms. Brenda Reese, Mr. Jay Fenwick, Dr. Gary Childers, and Mr. Steve Combs; School System Staff:  Dr. Scott Elliott, Superintendent, and Ms. Debora Smith, Administrative Assistant.


Chairman Reese, followed by Chairman Welch, called the joint meeting to order at 6:05 P.M.  Ms. Reese welcomed everyone and stated that School Board Chairman, Mr. Ron Henries, was not in attendance due to a death in his family.  Ms. Reese welcomed the new Valle Crucis Principal, Ms. Bonnie Smith, and introduced the School Board members.


Chairman Welch welcomed everyone and thanked the School Board for hosting the meeting.  Mr. Welch stated that this was an exciting time and the construction of the proposed school would be an all-inclusive process.  After each Board member introduced themselves, Mr. Welch turned the meeting over to School Superintendent, Dr. Elliott.


Dr. Elliott shared a presentation showing that the current school is an aging facility with growth, traffic, and flooding issues.  Dr. Elliott shared the following options for location of a new school:  build on site, at another location in Valle Crucis, or at a location outside of Valle Crucis.  Dr. Elliott stated that the Board of Education had pledged money from their undesignated fund balance for the purchase of land for the school.  Dr. Elliott stated that the Board of Commissioners had recently raised property taxes for the cost of construction of the facility.  Dr. Elliott stated that the project cost was estimated at approximately $35 million.  Dr. Elliott stated that the School Board currently had a property (known as the Hodges property) located in Valle Crucis under contract at a cost of $1,105,000 with due diligence underway.  The due diligence period has been expanded to November 15, 2019.


Mr. Chad Roberson, an Architect with Clark Nexsen, stated that the School Board had enlisted his services to go through the County’s schools and provide a study of each school’s needs.  Mr. Roberson stated that Valle Crucis School was within the parameters of needing to be replaced.  He shared the architectural and engineering considerations for the new school and shared plans showing the different layouts for the school at both the Hodges property and the current school location including the adjacent Valle Landing property.  Mr. Roberson addressed how the flooding and traffic issues would be addressed at each location.  


Chairman Welch welcomed those signed up to speak to share their comments regarding the new school project.  The following shared comments regarding the proposed construction of a new Valle Crucis School:


Mary Mast

Debbie Glover

Lyle Schoenfeldt

Ron Goodrich

Bernard Tessa Russo

Eddy Maillot

Beruta Claunch

Bill Pressly

Frank Barry

Chase Ambler

Sarah Donovan

Gannon Tipton

Scott St. Clair

Kelli Mayhew

Ben Jones

Gina Holste

Jimmy Hodges

Ramses Masis

Mary Mast (spoke twice)


All commenters seemed to agree that a new school was necessary; however, some disagreed with the location as proposed at the Hodges property site.


Following the public comments, each School Board member followed by each Commissioner made comments regarding the project.


Chairman Welch thanked everyone for attending and stated that this project would be an open fact-based process.  Mr. Welch also directed the public to email Dr. Elliott with comments and stated that Dr. Elliott would share the emails with both Boards.


Commissioner Yates, seconded by Commissioner Turnbow, moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:02 P.M.


VOTE:  Aye-5



School Board Member, Mr. Steve Combs, seconded by School Board Member, Dr. Gary Childers, moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:02 P.M.


VOTE:  Aye-4(Reese, Childers, Combs, Fenwick)





John Welch, Chairman



Anita J. Fogle, Clerk to the Board