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JEFFERSON — The Ashe County Democratic Party held its regular monthly meeting on March 23 at 7 p.m. via Zoom.

Treasurer Steve Panella presented the Treasurer’s report, which showed no financial activity since the last meeting. The party balance is still $911.76.

Chairman Ralph Sorrell added that the party has moved its bank account to LifeStore in the past month from First Citizens.

Sorrell also shared that the party did receive a brief response from U.S. Congresswoman Virginia Foxx.

In January, the ACDP sent a letter to Foxx requesting that she resign from the House of Representatives for voting against certifying Pennsylvania’s slate of Electors for Joe Biden and siding with insurrectionists who invaded the Capitol.

“Dear Mr. Sorrell this is in response to the letter that you sent me expressing your strong opposition to my recent stance objecting to certain Electoral College votes from the state of Pennsylvania,” read the letter. “Your message has been duly noted.”

Sorrell and party member Ben Massey recently attended the State Executive Committee meeting, which was via Zoom and started at 1 p.m. and concluded at 10 p.m.

Party member Kelley Breiding provided an update on her efforts trying to secure a NAACP membership.

After describing the difficulty she has experienced trying to get in contact with anyone, Sorrell said he would try to get in touch with someone from the Boone NAACP Chapter.

Ben Martin, who is a student at App State and an Eva Clayton Fellow also plans to assist in these efforts. Martin works with the state party and has been assigned to help counties in the 5th District.

Martin said he is happy to be back with a small, rural group of people working to make a difference in their county. He said that he is available to help any ACDP members with anything they need assistance with.

Breiding also provided additional information about the free food pantry program discussed at the previous meeting in February. She shared an image of what already established boxes throughout the nation look like and information about donations.

She said there is a private residence on the Back Street between the library and the Farmer’s Market which may serve as an ideal spot for the box to be located.

There has not been any contact made with the resident but Breiding plans to share the party’s plans with them via mail.

The box would need to be built and Breiding asked if anybody knows of a skilled carpenter who may be able to assist.

Sorrell confirmed that party funds could be used to assemble the first box and get it established. He added that the pantry box could also be placed somewhere closer to the Farmer’s Market and they would just need to get approval by the town of West Jefferson.

He said to start out, people can donate dried goods so that anybody that needs food will be able to take whatever they need.

Breiding said the box does not have to be limited to only food and could contain first-aid products and school supplies to align with people’s needs throughout th year.

“It’s sort of like the community lending a hand to itself,” Breiding said.

Also discussed during the meeting was the nominating committee, which will create a slate of candidates for officers. This committee is chaired by Elsie Hall and other members include LeVonda Clouse, Carolyn Weckstrom and Laura Lawson.

Sorrell spoke of the need for the nominating committee to find an event coordinator/commitee to plan events such as the FDR and Century Club dinners

Since the county convention will be held on April 10, which is the same day as the Keep Ashe Beautiful Spring litter sweep, it was proposed that the ACDP complete a sweep of their Adopt-A-Highway location the following weekend.

The party agreed to cleaning their one-mile stretch on Buck Mountain Road on April 17, beginning at 9 a.m.

The ACDP has tentative plans to begin meeting outside again at West Jefferson Park in May as the weather grows warmer.

Another large topic of discussion among party members was the escalating amount of trash which is accumulating on road sides throughout the county. N.C. 16 was one of the areas where people have been noticing larger quantities of litter.

In closing, Sorrell asked any party members if they had anyone in mind to be a keynote speaker at the county convention. He shared that other nearby counties such as Watauga who plan to have different speakers explain their goals for the year instead of just a single speaker.

Those who have any suggestions or wish to speak themselves at the convention are invited to reach out to Sorrell prior to the convention.

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