WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2010
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting on Tuesday, February 16, 2010, at 6:00 P.M. in the Commissioners’ Board Room of the Watauga County Administration Building.
PRESENT: Jim Deal, Chairman
William R. Winkler, III, Vice-Chairman
John Cooper, Commissioner
Tim Futrelle, Commissioner
Winston Kinsey, Commissioner
Anthony di Santi, County Attorney
Robert E. Nelson, Jr., County Manager
Deron Geouque, Deputy County Manager
Anita J. Fogle, Clerk to the Board
Chairman Deal called the meeting to order at 6:00 P.M., welcoming those in attendance.
Commissioner Futrelle opened the meeting with a prayer.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Chairman Deal called for additions and/or corrections to the February 1, 2010, regular meeting and closed session minutes.
Commissioner Cooper, seconded by Commissioner Futrelle, moved to approve the February 1, 2010, regular meeting minutes as presented.
Commissioner Cooper, seconded by Commissioner Futrelle, moved to approve the February 1, 2010, closed session minutes as presented.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Chairman Deal called for additions and/or corrections to the February 16, 2010, agenda.
Chairman Deal stated that the following had been requested as additions under Miscellaneous Administrative Matters: a Neighborhood Public Road Request and a Proposed Amendment to the Economic Development Commission Articles of Association.
Vice-Chairman Winkler, seconded by Commissioner Futrelle, moved to approve the February 16, 2010, agenda as amended.
PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO THE AGRICULTURAL CONFERENCE CENTER USE POLICY
Mr. Jim Hamilton presented a proposed amendment to the Agriculture Conference Center’s Building Use Policy which currently prohibited the use of alcohol. Mr. Hamilton stated that the Winegrowers Association had requested to offer wine tasting as a part of their meetings to try varieties of grapes from similar climates that could potentially be grown locally for the purpose of wine production. The following language was requested to be added to the use policy:
“Alcohol use: The consumption of alcohol at the Agricultural Conference Center is generally forbidden. However, producers’ associations wishing to test, taste, promote, or teach about related crops (wine, grapes, hops, barley, etc.) may petition the County Extension Director to grant exceptions to this rule for specific meetings and events. Such petitions must be made in writing at least two weeks prior to the specified event, and will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the CED. The CED’s decision on such matters is final.”
Mr. Bob Johnson with the Winegrowers Association stated that the tastings would consist of no more than one (1) ounce of up to eight (8) types of wine; therefore, no single person was to drink more than a total of eight (8) ounces of wine at any given meeting. Mr. Johnson also stated that the Association only planned to hold this type of meeting two to three times per year.
Mr. Hamilton stated that beer brewers and other associations would benefit by the proposed addition to the use policy as well.
Commissioner Cooper, seconded by Commissioner Kinsey, moved to approve the amendment to the Agricultural Conference Center Use Policy as presented.
UPDATE ON RECOVERY ZONE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BONDS APPLICATION FOR PROPOSED RECREATION CENTER
Mr. Furman presented a draft letter to the North Carolina Department of Commerce in which the County requested to release the $4,524,000 request from the original Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds (RZEDB) allocation and instead request a total of $12,000,000 in reallocated RZEDB’s. Also, in conversations with the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Mr. Furman stated he had been advised for the County to make the request for the reallocated bonds and then be prepared to ask for an extension and to justify actions taken by the County in moving forward with the process. Discussion was held regarding the process.
Commissioner Kinsey, seconded by Commissioner Cooper, moved to direct Planning & Inspections/Economic Development Director Furman to relinquish the initial $4,524,000 request for the original allocation of Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds and then request a total allocation of $12,000,000 for unallocated Recovery Zone Economic Development Bond funds for construction of an indoor recreation center which could provide additional recreational activities for citizens; allow for collaborations with the Western Youth Network in providing a space for a teen center; create additional jobs; and provide additional activities for tourists visiting the area.
NEW HIGH SCHOOL CHANGE ORDER REQUEST # 38
The County Manager presented Change Order # 38 for the new high school project in the amount of $45,369. The Change Order was needed for additional work in the duct work to provide “make up” air in the competition gym. Funding for Change Order # 38 was requested to be allocated from the Board of Education’s Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment (FF&E) budget.
Vice-Chairman Winkler, seconded by Commissioner Cooper, moved to approve Change Order # 38 for the new high school project in the amount of $45,369 with the funds to be allocated from the Board of Education’s Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment (FF&E) budget.
[Clerk’s Note: Change Order # 38 is to be billed based on materials and labor costs to a maximum of $45,369.]
MISCELLANEOUS ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS
A. TDA Water Allocation Request – County Manager Nelson stated that the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority (TDA) was currently in the planning stage for the development of Rocky Knob Park. Furnishing water to the site was part of their planning and, therefore, they requested County approval to petition the Town of Boone for the use of city water. The TDA was to be responsible for the application and availability and tap on fees as well as the construction costs.
Commissioner Futrelle, seconded by Commissioner Cooper, moved to authorize the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority to represent Watauga County in petitioning the Town of Boone for city water at Rocky Knob Park with all associated costs to be paid for by the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority.
B. Proposed Rural Center Grant Agreement Amendment for the Boone/Blowing Rock Interconnection Project – The County Manager stated that the North Carolina Rural Center awarded a grant to the County, on behalf of the Town of Blowing Rock, for the construction of an emergency water interconnect between the Towns of Boone and Blowing Rock. The grant was in the amount of $500,000 with a project completion date of December 31, 2009. The County Manager presented an amended grant agreement which was to extend the length of time for construction to December 31, 2010, as well as reduce the grant to an amount not to exceed $445,513, which was the amount of the bids received.
Commissioner Cooper, seconded by Commissioner Kinsey, moved to approve The Rural Center grant agreement amendment for the Boone/Blowing Rock Interconnection project as presented by the County Manager.
C. Miriam and Robert Hayes Performing Arts Center’s Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Allocation Request – County Manager Nelson stated that the FY 2010 County Budget included an allocation of $10,000 for the Hayes Performing Arts Center (HPAC) to assist with programming during the calendar year. The County Manager stated that, since the Center suspended their operations in August 2009, he had suspended their quarterly payments in that no services were being provided to the community. The HPAC was in the process of reorganization and had requested the FY 2010 allocation be reinstated to assist with salaries and expenses during this period.
After discussion, the Board agreed, by consensus, to direct the County Manager to reinstate the Hayes Performing Arts Center FY 2010 funding allocation, as the Center works through the process of reorganization for the purpose of economic development.
D. Request for Use of Current High School – County Manager Nelson stated that the High Country Classics Car Club had used the existing high school for the past several years to conduct a car show. Funds generated from this event were used to benefit people in the community which were in need as well as various charitable organizations. The Car Club requested the use of the current high school parking lot and bathrooms adjacent to the recreational fields to conduct their car show in July 2010.
Commissioner Cooper, seconded by Vice-Chairman Winkler, moved to authorize the High Country Classics Car Club to use the current high school parking lot and bathrooms adjacent to the recreational fields in July 2010 for their annual car show, with the Car Club being responsible for clean-up after the event.
E. Request for Special Joint Meeting to Discuss Recreation Matters – County Manager Nelson stated that the Town of Boone requested a joint meeting with the County and the Watauga County Recreation Commission to discuss recreation matters on Monday, February 22 at 6:30 P.M. at the Watauga County Administration Building.
By consensus, the Board agreed to the joint meeting.
F. Proposed Agenda for Annual Pre-Budget Retreat – County Manager Nelson presented a proposed agenda for the Board’s Annual Retreat.
Commissioner Kinsey requested that the Board of Elections be added to discuss recent budget requests.
G. Neighborhood Public Road Request – County Manager Nelson stated that a group of citizens residing on Fork Ridge Road requested that, per G. S. 136-67, the Board of Commissioners formally request on their behalf that the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) declare Fork Ridge Road a Neighborhood Public Road and bring the condition of the road to NCDOT standards.
County Manager Nelson stated that he had spoken to Michael Poe with the NCDOT who stated that the NCDOT had not practiced that procedure since the late 1960’s or early 1970’s. The County Manager also stated that the General Statute stated that, if the Board of Commissioners requested the NCDOT to make the declaration, the NCDOT could chose to bring the road to standards but were not required to do so.
After discussion, Commissioner Cooper, seconded by Commissioner Futrelle, moved to request that the NCDOT declare Fork Ridge Road a Neighborhood Public Road and act accordingly.
H. Proposed Amendment to the Economic Development Commission Articles of Association – Mr. Joe Furman, Economic Development Director, stated that, under current policy, the position of the Director of Appalachian State University’s Appalachian Regional Development Institute (ARDI) was a permanent Commissioners’ appointment as a voting member of the County’s Economic Development Commission. Due to UNC system cutbacks and reorganization, ARDI no longer exists. Accordingly, the Economic Development Commission recommended amending their Articles of Association IV(a) to change that appointment to be a designee of the Appalachian State University Chancellor with the provision that the person designated be someone whose University involvement/duties include economic development.
Vice-Chairman Winkler, seconded by Commissioner Cooper, moved to amend the Economic Development Commission Articles of Association to change the Economic Development Commission ARDI Director position to a designee of the Appalachian State University Chancellor with the provision that the person designated be someone whose University involvement/duties include economic development.
I. Boards and Commissions – County Manager Nelson stated that the appointments of Tony Gray and Lisa Martin as members of the Tourism Development Authority were to expire February 2010. Both were willing to continue to serve, if reappointed. Ms. Suzanne Stevens, owner of Valle Crucis Bed & Breakfast, had also expressed interest in serving on this Board.
Vice-Chairman Winkler, seconded by Commissioner Futrelle, moved to reappoint Tony Gray and Lisa Martin to the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority for three-year terms to expire in February 2013.
VOTE: Aye-4(Deal, Winkler, Futrelle, Kinsey)
[Clerk’s Note: Commissioner Cooper abstained from the Tourism Development Authority appointments discussion and vote due to a conflict of interest.]
J. Announcements – County Manager Nelson announced that the UNC School of Government was offering several training opportunities including the Essentials of Municipal Government and Regional LederShops on various dates and at various locations throughout the State. A Webinar was also scheduled for Thursday, March 25th from 4:00 – 6:00 P.M. for training on ethics. The Webinar was available for broadcast in the Commissioners’ Board Room if so desired. Additional Ethics Workshops were also available at various locations and dates with one being offered at the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners Annual Conference.
The Board directed staff to register for the Webinar to be broadcast in the Commissioners’ Board room on Thursday, March 25th and to invite elected officials from the local towns to participate in the Webinar as well.
County Manager Nelson announced that the Cooperative Extension’s Report to the People luncheon was scheduled for Monday, March 1, 2010, at 11:45 A.M. at the Watauga County Agricultural Conference Center.
There was no public comment.
At 6:49 P.M., Vice-Chairman Winkler, seconded by Commissioner Cooper, moved to enter Closed Session to discuss Attorney/Client Matters, per G. S. 143-318.11(a)(3).
Commissioner Cooper, seconded by Commissioner Futrelle, moved to resume the open meeting at 7:53 P.M.
Chairman Deal adjourned the meeting at 7:53 P.M.
Jim Deal, Chairman
Anita J. Fogle, Clerk to the Board