WEST JEFFERSON — On May 16, the Ashe County Republicans held their monthly meeting. Topics of discussion during the meeting included the state republican convention, an upcoming volunteer banquet and the proposal of an Ashe County tax increase.
Some of the individuals present at the meeting were county commissioner Todd McNeil, Ashe County Sheriff Phil Howell, Ashe County Republican Chair and county commissioner Jonathan Jordan and 5th District Republican Chairman Jack Simms.
Big news from the meeting included the announcement that former President Donald Trump would be the keynote speaker at the 2021 North Carolina Republican Convention. The convention is scheduled to take place from June 3 - 6 in Greenville.
“I think it’s a tremendous opportunity for North Carolina for such a high profile individual to be the keynote speaker. I think it will generate a lot of attention,” said Jordan. “I think it’s a fantastic showing of how important North Carolina must be to him for him to come and be the keynote speaker.”
More information about the state republican convention can be found at convention.nc.gop/.
Other news included the announcement of the Above and Beyond Banquet, an event put in place to honor the party’s district volunteers. The event is currently scheduled to take place at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center in Lenoir on July 24.
“The purpose of this banquet is that we very seldom take time to thank our volunteer,” said Simms. “I’ve asked each county chair to go about the process of selecting a volunteer that has gone above and beyond the call and then we’re going to honor those 11 volunteers at this banquet on July 24.”
Speakers for banquet include Lt. Governor Mark Robison, Representative Virginia Foxx, as well as April Wood of the NC Court of Appeals. Tickets for the event are $40. According to Simms, those who purchase VIP tickets for the event will receive one-on-one time and a chance for a photo opportunity with the speakers. Festivities such as the VIP meet and greets will begin at 4:30 p.m. with banquet itself beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Some concerns from local GOP party members include the possibility of a tax increase in Ashe County. The increase, which was proposed in the county budget would help counter the rising price of everyday materials needed for county management, with a lions share of the funding covering the cost of the county’s new middle school and community college, as well as a possible salary increase for the Ashe County Sheriff’s Department.
“I want them to have the best equipment of any sheriff’s department in the whole state of North Carolina. Because I’m proud of my sheriff and his department and I back them 100 percent. If I could back them any more than that I would,” said Ashe County GOP member Terry Wagoner. “On the other hand, if we have such a tax increase, we are going to burden so many Ashe County citizens.”
Wagoner hopes that the community can find alternative means to support the sheriff’s department such as fundraisers and donations, that won’t further burden local tax payers who have already fallen on hard times.
“If this community really loves their sheriff’s department then there’s some guys out there with money that they could donate that would alleviate any kind of burden on the county,” said Wagoner. “As members of the Republican party lets look at what we can do to help the sheriff’s department.”
“We have anticipated needing to generate more revenue ever since the conversation started about building the new middle school,” said McNeil. “At the time, the number that was mentioned was 40-million dollars to construct a new middle school. The project has been delayed at least two years and now that they finally seem to moving with the project again the cost of materials has escalated dramatically. Now the school is estimated to cost 61-million plus.”
The next Ashe County Republicans meeting is scheduled for June 15, at 6 p.m. at the Log House at Smitheys Cafe located at 117 Back Street in West Jefferson. Party members are encouraged to stop by.