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WEST JEFFERSON — The Ashe County Board of Commissions met on Jan. 4 to discuss the upcoming plans for the new year.

The meeting began with presentations from the Blue Ridge Opportunity Commissions, the Ashe County Farm Bureau, and the County Manager.

Ashe County Farm Bureau Board President Judy Bare spoke on the year in review for agriculture and presented hopes for the future farmers of America.

About 22 percent of Ashe County’s economy is in agriculture, allowing cattle farms to be ranked third in the state. In the nation, the county is ranked second in Christmas tree farms, falling behind Oregon. Bare’s suggestion was to allow more meeting places for those interested in agriculture, such as FFA, which held the necessities to practice in future careers.

“I think we have an opportunity to really grow agriculture in the county if we have the facilities to encourage it,” said Bare.

The meeting continued with County Manager Adam Stumb proposing a new tenant for the last available hangar at the Ashe County Airport.

The tenant would pay upfront to have the hangar door repaired and will be reimbursed in rent money until it is paid off. This would allow the hangar to be occupied as soon as possible. The money collected for the door, which would normally go towards the lease would instead go to construction.

The proposal was approved by Commissioner Jerry Powers making a motion. The door itself will range from $8-$12,000 and installation will range from $8-$10,000.

The meeting concluded with comments on the upcoming year and how there are hopes that 2021 will be easier for the county.

Commissioner Chuck Olive encouraged the county to proceed carefully with the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I want to emphasize that the vaccine is out. Contact your primary care provider first. They will help you make arrangements to receive the vaccine if you desire,” Olive said.

Vice Chair Commissioner William Sands said, “As we go into this new year, I think about the concerns we had this past year. I hope the vaccine makes a difference throughout the world and our county.”

The next meeting of the BOC will be Jan. 19.

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