The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting on Tuesday, October 17, 2000 at 7:00 P.M. in the Mabel Elementary School cafeteria.
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
Commissioner Kohles was out of town and unable to attend the meeting.
Chairman Hodges called the meeting to order at 7:00 P.M. welcoming those in attendance.
Chairman Hodges called for additions or corrections to the October 2, 2000 regular and closed session meeting minutes; the October 6, 2000 open and closed session meeting minutes; and the October 11, 2000 open and closed session meeting minutes.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to approve the October 2, 2000 regular and closed session meeting minutes; the October 6, 2000 open and closed session meeting minutes; and the October 11, 2000 open and closed session meeting minutes as presented.
VOTE: Aye-4
Absent-1 (Kohles)
Chairman Hodges called for additions or corrections to the October 17, 2000 agenda.
County Manager Nelson requested an additional item to be discussed in Closed Session pursuant to G.S. 143-318.11(a)(3), attorney/client matters.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to approve the October 17, 2000 agenda with the amendment as requested.
VOTE: Aye-4
Absent-1 (Kohles)
Mr. Richard Sparks, Watauga Medical Center President and Chief Executive Officer, addressed the Board regarding proposed renovations to Watauga Medical Center. He presented a diagram and briefly reviewed a summary of the improvement plan, a breakdown of the costs and financing, and the process for implementing the plan. (The Board had approved a Certificate of Need Application at its February 22, 2000 regular meeting, and the Medical Center was notified of its approval on September 22, 2000). Mr. Sparks anticipated the total project cost to be $20 million. Since the Medical Center proposed to finance the improvements through a $13 million loan from the Medical Care Commission Bond Pool, the Medical Center was requesting two amendments to its 1991 original loan. Mr. Sparks answered the Board’s questions regarding the financing and requested the Board’s approval without delay to ensure the lowest construction costs in completing the project. County Attorney Hedrick stated he had reviewed a resolution pertaining to this request and had recommended some minor changes.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the two amendments and resolution contingent on County Attorney Hedrick’s final approval of their form.
Prior to the vote, Chairman Hodges asked Mr. Sparks how many were currently employed at the Medical Center. Mr. Sparks stated that to date there were approximately 800 on staff, and once this project was complete, the Medical Center would probably hire additional employees.
The following vote was then made on Commissioner Lawrence’s motion.
VOTE: Aye-4
Absent-1 (Kohles)
Mr. C. M. Boggs, Account Manager Industrial Services with Iris Glen Environmental Center (IGEC), a division of Waste Management Company (WMC), addressed the Board proposing a 5-year extension to the County’s present contract with WMC (for hauling and disposing of municipal solid waste). Mr. Boggs stated that WMC had served the County since 1994 and presented the Board with information about the IGEC facility in Johnson City, TN. WMC requested an extension to its present contract with the County. If this 5-year extension was approved, the current contract would be extended through April 8, 2009. In addition, WMC would waive the consumer price index (CPI) increase scheduled for contracted years beginning April 9, 2000 and April 9, 2001 if the extension was approved. All price increases collected during year 2000 would be credited to the County’s account. The total savings by eliminating the CPI for years 2000 and 2001 were approximately $900,000 (over the term of the contract), and Mr. Boggs explained how this figure was calculated. The Board asked several questions regarding the CPI rates as well as how long the IGEC facility could handle the County’s waste. Mr. Boggs assured the Board that the IGEC site had a disposal life of 60-70 years.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to approve the 5-year extension to the County’s current contract with Waste Management Company contingent upon County Attorney Hedrick’s approval of the contract.
VOTE: Aye-4
Absent-1 (Kohles)
Mr. Jack Simpson, Cove Creek Preservation & Development Board Member, addressed the Board with a loan request to borrow up to $150,000 from the County’s Economic Development capital reserve fund for the HVAC installation at the old Cove Creek School. Mr. Simpson felt that funding from the County’s capital reserve was appropriate because of the jobs that would be created with the addition of Montage, a tenant in the building, plus the jobs already created by an additional tenant, Edge of the Woods. CCP&D proposed to repay the loan in two years by raising $75,000 in local donations and fund raising activities to match a grant received from The Janirve Foundation in the amount of $75,000. Mr. Simpson reviewed the costs of the project as well as the anticipated funding to be received from grants and additional sources. However, he stated that four qualified builders had reviewed the site, and the lowest bid received was $100,000 over what CCP&D anticipated for the installation. Therefore, Mr. Simpson recommended the Board table this request until its November 6, 2000 regular meeting, and he would be present for further discussion.
Mr. Frank Bolick, Agricultural Extension Agent with the County’s Cooperative Extension Service, presented a grant request for $13,500 to the N.C. Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance. The grant would enable the County to establish a composting program at the County’s Landfill to divert food wastes from the County’s waste stream. In addition, this project was included in the County’s Solid Waste Management Plan as submitted to the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Mr. Bolick answered the Board’s questions regarding the equipment that would be used for this project. In addition, he explained that a 25% cash match was required ($3,500) which was present in Sanitation’s current year budget and requested the Board’s approval to submit this grant application.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to approve this request.
VOTE: Aye-4
Absent-1 (Kohles)
Mr. Bryce Holder, Holder, Copeland & Associates, made a brief presentation of the County’s Fiscal Year 1999/2000 audit. He discussed the general fund balance noting the overall collection rate was good. In addition, Mr. Holder commended Finance Director, Doris Isaacs, and her staff for the job they had done.
A. Subdivision Performance Guarantee – Planning & Inspections Director, Joe Furman, presented a subdivision performance guarantee for the completion of road construction at Greystone V (as required by Section 92 of the subdivision regulations). The performance guarantee was an Irrevocable Stand-by Letter of Credit from City National Bank of Florida in the amount of $41,000. Mr. Furman stated the Planning Board (at its October 16, 2000 meeting) had approved the subdivision performance guarantee contingent on the Board of Commissioners’ approval. He added that County Attorney Hedrick had reviewed the Letter of Credit, and Mr. Furman requested the Board’s approval.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the Subdivision Performance Guarantee for Greystone V.
VOTE: Aye-4
Absent-1 (Kohles)
B. Emergency Operations Plan Amendment Request – Planning & Inspections Director, Joe Furman, stated that over the past several years, the Country had experienced an increase in terrorism. Therefore, he presented two documents which dealt with civil disorders and acts of terrorism which needed to be added to the County’s Emergency Operations Plan. In addition, Mr. Furman noted FEMA had provided funds for training and exercising responses to acts of terrorism and requested the Board approve the amendments.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to approve the amendments to the County’s Emergency Operations Plan as requested.
VOTE: Aye-4
Absent-1 (Kohles)
Finance Director, Doris Isaacs, presented the following budget amendments for Board approval:
Account # Description Debit Credit
103300-345002 Rural General Public 5,309
104500-469843 AppalCART-RGP 5,309
To recognize additional Public Transportation Funds for the Rural Operating Assistance Program. This increases the RGP funding for the current year to $17,708.
Account # Description Debit Credit
143531-345000 Admn. Cost Reimb.-Fed./State 26,379
145480-438800 Crisis Payments to Clients 26,379
To recognize additional funding authorization for the Crisis Intervention Prevention Program.
Account # Description Debit Credit
663200-327501 Scrap Tire Disposal Grant 7,932
667420-412600 Salaries-Part/time 7,932
To recognize Scrap Tire Grant award and appropriation of funds to cover part/time truck driver.
Account # Description Debit Credit
103300-369811 Restorative Justice Project 25,597
105890-469811 Restorative Justice-BRD&SC 25,597
To recognize grant award to the Blue Ridge Dispute and Settlement Center for the Restorative Justice Project.
Account # Description Debit Credit
103300-352102 Reaching Adolescent Program 106,413
105210-469823 NRMH-RAP Grant 106,413
To recognize the second year of a two-year grant received by NRBH for the Reaching Adolescents Program. The local match was provided by NRMH.
Account # Description Debit Credit
135912-459004 High School-PSFF Project 55,704
133593-359004 PSFF-High School 55,704
To recognize the draw down and expenditure of Public School Facilities funds for the Watauga High School project.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the budget amendments as presented.
VOTE: Aye-4
Absent-1 (Kohles)
Ms. Jane Ann Hodges, Board of Elections Director, requested additional funds for the Board of Elections’ current year’s budget. Ms. Hodges explained that funds were not budgeted to operate the North Fork precinct (it was closed for the May primaries). However, she stated that recently the Board of Elections had decided to re-open the North Fork precinct for the upcoming elections. In order to accomplish this, the Board of Elections would need to rent two Votronic voting machines to place at the North Fork precinct and have them programmed which would cost approximately $800 plus an additional $40 rent to be paid for the use of the polling place. In addition, it would cost approximately $400 to pay precinct officials to work at the polls on Election Day. In addition, Ms. Hodges stated that County Manager Nelson had already approved a budget amendment transferring $1,500 from travel to part-time salaries to cover part-time help for the one-stop absentee voting. She briefly discussed the one-stop voting process and noted that 231 citizens had voted during the previous two days. Ms. Hodges thanked Information Technologies Manager, Glenda Duncan, Maintenance Supervisor, Robert Marsh, and Finance Director, Doris Isaacs, for their assistance during this voting period.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the Board of Elections additional budget request in the amount of $1,240 from the general fund balance.
VOTE: Aye-4
Absent-1 (Kohles)
A. Future Appointments – County Manager Nelson noted that Watauga Medical Center had submitted names for the Board’s consideration to the Watauga Medical Center Board of Trustees. The appointments needed to be made prior to December 31, 2000, and Mr. Nelson stated the last appointments were made during the Board’s December 21, 1999 regular meeting.
Names had also been submitted in collaboration with the Extension Service, Soil & Water Conservation, Farm Service Agency and Watauga County Farm Bureau to serve on the Voluntary Farmland Preservation Program Board.
In addition, the Town of Boone had notified staff that Lori Dean had resigned her position on the Boone Board of Adjustment (term expired June, 2001). The Town had recommended current alternate member, Rick Foster, be appointed to Ms. Dean’s unexpired term, and if approved, for Karen Byerly to serve in the alternate ETJ position vacated by Mr. Foster (term expired June, 2002).
The future appointments were for the Board’s information, and no action was taken.
B. Announcements – County Manager Nelson informed the Board that the Watauga County Board of Education had invited the Commissioners to the High School on October 27, 2000 at 9:00 A.M. to learn about a new program offered (ExplorNet).
The following department heads and staff introduced themselves:
Jane Ann Hodges, Board of Elections Director
Doris Isaacs, Finance Director
Deb Wynne, Parks & Recreation Director
Larry McLean, Tax Administrator
Glenda Duncan, Information Technologies Manager
Jim Atkinson, Social Services Director
Robert Marsh, Maintenance Supervisor
Joe Furman, Planning & Inspections Director
Jim Harmon, Veterans Service Officer/Safety Director
Angie Boitnotte, Project on Aging Director
J. V. Potter, Operation Services Director
Rocky Nelson, County Manager
Libby Link, Clerk to the Board
Jeff Hedrick, County Attorney
No one in attendance addressed the Board.
Prior to entering Closed Session, Vice-Chairman Sweeting read a statement voicing her concerns regarding recent rumors that were circulating concerning the County’s ambulance service. She reassured the County’s citizens that actions had been taken to ensure public safety regarding the operation of the ambulance service.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to enter Closed Session at 8:28 P.M. to discuss: Personnel Matters, G.S. 143-318.11(a)(6) and Attorney/Client Matters, G.S. 143-318.11(a)(3).
VOTE: Aye-4
Absent-1 (Kohles)
Following a brief recess, the Board entered Closed Session at 8:35 P.M.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:03 P.M.
VOTE: Aye-4
Absent-1 (Kohles)
Jimmy Hodges, Chairman
Elizabeth H. Link, Clerk to the Board