WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2001
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting on Tuesday, February 20, 2001 at 7:00 P.M. in the Board Room of the Watauga County Courthouse.
PRESENT: James Coffey, Vice-Chairman
Jack Lawrence, Sr., Commissioner
Sue Sweeting, Commissioner
Pat Wilkie, Commissioner
Jeff Hedrick, County Attorney
Robert E. Nelson, Jr., County Manager
Libby Link, Clerk to the Board
Chairman Hodges was unable to attend the meeting due to serious illness in the family. Vice-Chairman Coffey called the meeting to order at 7:00 P.M. welcoming those in attendance.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Vice-Chairman Coffey called for additions or corrections to the February 2-3, 2001 special meeting minutes and the February 5, 2001 regular meeting minutes.
Commissioner Wilkie noted that during the building use policies discussion at the Board’s special meeting (February 2-3, 2001) she had requested a public hearing at a future meeting since the Board could not come to a consensus on use of County buildings for political fundraisers, and Commissioner Wilkie requested the minutes be corrected to reflect this statement.
In addition, during this same discussion, Commissioner Sweeting had requested County Attorney Hedrick to define for-profit and not-for-profit fundraising, and she requested the minutes be corrected to reflect this statement.
Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to approve the February 2-3, 2001 special meeting minutes with the amendments as discussed and the February 5, 2001 regular meeting minutes as presented.
APPROVAL OF FEBRUARY 20, 2001 AGENDA
Vice-Chairman Coffey called for additions or corrections to the February 20, 2001 agenda.
Commissioner Wilkie requested an addition to the agenda. She stated that Ms. Janet Zeller had a request for the Board to approve a resolution to the N.C. Division of Air Quality regarding Maymead Asphalt Plant. It was agreed to add this item under Miscellaneous Administrative Matters.
In addition, County Manager Nelson requested an additional item under Miscellaneous Administrative Matters. He stated that he had received a letter this date from the Wraparound System of Care requesting a letter of endorsement from the Board.
Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, moved to approve the February 20, 2001 agenda with the amendments.
A. Transport Policy – Mr. Reggie Hassler, Chairman of the Watauga EMS Advisory Committee, addressed the Board regarding proposed amendments to the EMS transport policy as previously discussed at the Board’s January 5, 2001 meeting. Mr. Hassler noted the EMS Advisory Committee had met on February 7, 2001 and revisited the transport policy. After reviewing this policy a second time, and based on a unanimous vote, the following transport policy was recommended to the Board of Commissioners for approval:
1) Patient’s or Family Members’ Choice. EMS personnel responding to an emergency dispatch were to ask the patient or attendant family member or attendant caretaker where the patient’s physician, if any, was located and then to which hospital the patient would like to go for treatment. If the patient or attendant family member or attendant caretaker was unable to make the decision, EMS personnel were to make the decision based upon knowledge and experience as to which appropriate medical facility the patient was to be transported.
2) All major trauma patients were to be transported to Watauga Medical Center.
3) If there were any questions concerning where to transport the patient, EMS personnel were to contact the administratively responsible hospital for a decision.
Mr. Hassler briefly reviewed the amendments and requested the Board’s approval.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, moved to approve the amendments as presented.
B. Request for Public Hearing to Consider an Amendment to the Ambulance Franchise Ordinance – Mr. Reggie Hassler, Chairman of the Watauga EMS Advisory Committee, requested the Board schedule a public hearing for its March 5, 2001 regular meeting to consider a recommended amendment to the County’s Ambulance Franchise Ordinance (Section 7.2). Mr. Hassler stated the EMS Advisory Committee had discussed the requested amendment which would allow routine non-emergency transport to be provided by an EMT-Basic staffed ambulance rather than EMT-Paramedic level attendants.
Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, moved to schedule a public hearing for the Board’s March 5, 2001 regular meeting to consider this request.
C. Watauga Medics, Inc. Annual Report – Mr. Craig Sullivan, Owner and Director of Watauga Medics, Inc., presented its annual report. He noted that Watauga Medics, Inc. had experienced a very successful year and as a result was able to donate an ambulance to the rescue squads. Mr. Sullivan briefly reviewed the report with the Board and answered questions. Commissioner Sweeting commended Mr. Sullivan for purchasing an ambulance without requesting additional funds from the County and for donating an ambulance to the rescue squads. In addition, Commissioner Lawrence commended Mr. Sullivan for presenting the annual report. This item was for the Board’s information, and no action was taken.
D. Watauga Medics, Inc. Compliance Review – County Manager Nelson briefly discussed a compliance review of Watauga Medics, Inc. (WMI) as referenced in Section 16.1 of the County’s Ambulance Franchise Ordinance. Mr. Nelson stated that based on his review, WMI was in compliance with the County’s Ordinance and contract. He noted that each January the County was required to consider a rate increase (according to the WMI contract Items 30 and 31). Mr. Nelson stated that effective January 1, 2001 the rate of increase for WMI was 2.76%. This item was for the Board’s information, and no action was taken.
RECREATION TASK FORCE REQUEST
Dr. Bill Horn, Co-Chairman of the County’s Recreation Task Force, addressed the Board and requested two members of the Board of Commissioners to meet jointly with two members of the Boone Town Council, with members of the Recreation Task Force, Boone Town Manager, Greg Young, and County Manager Nelson prior to establishing the next fiscal year’s budget. Dr. Horn felt this request was very important because an individual had agreed to donate $1.5 million towards the proposed $9.5 million recreation center. Vice-Chairman Coffey voiced his concerns about funding for a new recreation facility during the next fiscal year due to the State’s “cutbacks”. Commissioner Wilkie preferred to have all of the Commissioners to meet jointly with all members of the Boone Town Council and members of the Recreation Task Force for further discussion. Dr. Horn stressed the urgency to proceed with a new recreation facility due to the $1.5 million donation. The Board briefly discussed proposed meeting dates, and Dr. Horn stated he would notify the Town of Boone in order to proceed with a joint meeting.
INDUSTRIAL PARK FEASIBILITY REQUEST
Mr. Grant Wainscott, Economic Development Commission Director, presented a request for $1,600 in funding for an engineering review of the County owned property adjacent to the Landfill to determine the feasibility of its use as a light commerce economic friendly hi-tech park. Draper Aden Associates (who was familiar with the property) proposed to proceed with the engineering review for a fee of $3,200. Mr. Wainscott requested $1,600 from the County and noted the remaining funds would be provided through a matching grant with Advantage West. He answered the Board’s questions regarding access to the property and whether or not the Town of Boone would provide water and sewer. Mr. Wainscott stated he was in the process of handling both details. He explained that although this was a two phase project, phase two was contingent upon the completion of phase one.
Following brief discussion, Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, moved to approve the funding for the Economic Development Commission to conduct the 1st Phase and as to the 2nd Phase only when water, sewer and access were determined to be available and adequate.
MISCELLANEOUS ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS
A. Boards & Commissions – County Manager Nelson stated nominations had been received from Region D Council of Governments to fill two vacancies on the Watauga County Nursing Home Community Advisory Committee. Ms. Gelene Atwood would fill the unexpired term of Ms. Sara Spann (who had expired). In addition, Ms. Mary Shook’s term expired in March, 2001, and she had agreed to continue to serve.
Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, moved to appoint Ms. Gelene Atwood to a 1-year term and to re-appoint Ms. Mary Shook for a 3-year term to the Watauga County Nursing Home Community Advisory Committee.
County Manager Nelson stated a request was received from W.A.M.Y. Community Action, Inc. (WCAI) for a Commissioner or Board appointee to serve on the Board of Directors of WCAI. If a Commissioner was unable to serve, WCAI recommended that Mr. Michael Salzano be appointed to a 4-year term to represent the Board.
Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to appoint Mr. Michael Salzano to a 4-year term on the Board of Directors of W.A.M.Y. Community Action, Inc.
B. Announcements – County Manager Nelson stated a Legislative Day for Western North Carolina elected officials was scheduled for February 28, 2001 in Raleigh, N.C.
In addition, County Manager Nelson stated the counties had been notified that in order to address the State’s projected $3.75 billion shortfall, Governor Easley invoked his constitutional authority to declare a state of emergency to address the State’s projected budget shortfall. One of his directives was to suspend local government reimbursements. Therefore, Watauga County’s $141,076 payment that was due to be distributed April 30, 2001 for inventory tax replacement had been suspended. To date, the State had not addressed suspending counties’ share of the intangible’s tax refund that counties were due to receive in August, 2001 for the current fiscal year (approximately $370,000 for Watauga County). In addition, Mr. Nelson projected a $400,000 increase in next fiscal year’s Medicaid expenses (due to expanded programs, utilization, drug costs, etc.) He offered this information to the Board for consideration during the upcoming budget process. Commissioner Sweeting requested a joint meeting with the County’s State Legislators to address these concerns.
C. Resolution to the N.C. Division of Air Quality Regarding Maymead Materials, Inc. – Ms. Janet Zeller, representing the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, addressed the Board presenting a resolution which she felt was very significant in preserving citizens’ health. She explained that Maymead Materials, Inc. (MMI) had applied to the N.C. Division of Air Quality (NCDAQ) for a revision to its existing permit that would allow a larger bag filter be installed. Even though the amount of tonnage permitted would be reduced, there would be a net increase in production. However, Ms. Zeller felt this fabric filter was not adequate for production and posed an unacceptable risk to area residents. In addition, she felt there was not information from the State as to the ramifications of asphalt plants. Ms. Zeller stated that if the State approved the permit, it would allow MMI to produce more asphalt because the filter was larger than its current filter. The resolution requested that the NCDAQ 1) deny the proposed air quality permit for Maymead 105, 2) prepare a new draft permit for the Maymead 105 and Brown plants with rules applied to them as one facility, and 3) conduct a study of asphalt plants to include toxics, particulates and pollution trap impacts. In addition, Commissioner Sweeting requested an amendment to #3 to include an epidemiological study to determine the potential risk to human health.
County staff and County Attorney Hedrick had not reviewed the proposed resolution. Therefore, it was the consensus of the Board to table consideration of the resolution until the Board’s March 5, 2001 regular meeting.
D. Wraparound Care for Families – County Manager Nelson stated a request had been received from Social Services Director, Jim Atkinson, for the Board’s endorsement (a letter of support to colleagues at the N.C. Department of Social Services, Jordan Institute for Families, N.C. Association of County Commissioners and the Institute of Government) for Wraparound Care for Families.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, moved to write a letter of endorsement for Wraparound Care for Families as requested.
PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD
Ms. Karen Byerly addressed the Board regarding Maymead Materials, Inc. She asked if its permit to install a larger filter would affect the County’s Ordinance Establishing a Moratorium on Certain Polluting Industries (which expired April 18, 2001). County Attorney Hedrick responded that this matter was being studied by Planning & Inspections staff.
Mr. Bill Kaiser, representing the Stewart Simmons Volunteer Fire Department and residents of the Triplett community, thanked the Board for its support and recommendation to the N.C. Department of Transportation to repair and maintain Jake’s Mountain Road.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, moved to go into Closed Session at 8:14 P.M. to discuss: Attorney/Client Matters, G.S. 143-318.11(a)(3).
Following a brief recess, the Board entered Closed Session at 8:20 P.M.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:35 P.M.
James Coffey, Vice-Chairman
Elizabeth H. Link, Clerk to the Board