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GLENDALE SPRINGS — The Ashe County Republican Party held its monthly meeting at the Blue Ridge Theater & Event Center on Tuesday, July 21.

Prior to the start of the meeting, Chairman Jonathan Jordan thanked Steve Mochen and Paula Perry. Mochen allowed the meeting to be held at the venue so that weather would not be an issue and it allowed for easy social distancing. Perry was in charge of coordinating the meal, which included buckets of chicken and sides from Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Amber Brown from Congresswoman Virginia Foxx’s office gave a report.

Brown said they are Foxx wanted to be there but was hard at work in Washington D.C. gearing up for the election and they appreciate everyone’s support.

Sen. Deanna Ballard was present and shared a few updates.

Ballard said at the state level they have been fortunate to not have to make any budget cuts in this year’s budget cycle. However, they are unsure of what the case will be next year dependent on receipts and collections.

She also opened the floor up to questions from party members. One attendee asked how they are distributing information such as Gov, Roy Cooper’s vetoes.

Ballard said some papers will not print the information and one medium that they have been utilizing for this is social media. She has been encouraging all county parties to get the word out via social media. She added that she may need to purchase ad space in newspapers to share graphics containing dollar amounts or other information.

She also encouraged party members to step up and get involved because it is going to be a “very critical November.”

“If you see polling numbers or you see information, do not take anything for granted. I can’t stress that enough,” Ballard said.

Ashe County Sheriff B. Phil Howell shared some information about the COPS grant the Sheriff’s Office received.

As a result of the grant, the ASCO has four new officers coming. According to Howell, this is the first time they have added extra officers to their road shifts.

At this time, Howell also spoke about the increase they have had in their call volumes over the years. In 2005 they were averaging about 5,000 calls per year and in 2019 they averaged around 14,000.

“We’ve tripled our calls but we have not tripled our staff on the roads, so that was our main focus this year,” Howell said.

Board of Commissioners’ Chairman Todd McNeill shared a few updates during the meeting.

McNeill said despite the financial uncertainty associated with COVID-19, he is very encouraged with the county’s occupancy tax receipts, which exceeded the forecasted amount for FY 2019-20.

“I’m optimistic, even in the face of all the uncertainty that is going on, as far as our revenues for the county,” McNeill said.

He said this is especially important in the upcoming year as they are preparing for larger, costly projects including a new middle school.

Jordan encouraged those who are able to volunteer at the GOP Headquarters to assist party members to do so in order to help party executive administrator Tammie Coffey with voter visits. He also reminded everyone that merchandise such as face masks and hats supporting President Donald J. Trump are available for purchase at the headquarters.

He also spoke about the voter registration table which was set up downtown on July 4 and was a successful fundraiser for the party after the cancellation of Christmas in July.

Jordan said they sold as much merchandise during the seven hours the table was set up as they did during the entire festival in 2019.

“The response from people driving by was fantastic,” Jordan said.

Karen Bell from the Allegheny Rotary Club was present with gift baskets containing bagged coffee and baked goods to raise funds for student scholarships for them to attend leadership camps.

Prior to adjourning, several party members expressed interest in holding a “Back the Blue” rally to support local law enforcement.

Howell said he and his office would work to provide resources as well as the police chief of whatever city limits they would like the rally to be held within.

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