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WEST JEFFERSON — The Ashe County Republican Party met on Jan. 21 at Sweet & Savory Bakery & Deli to discuss party reports, prospective candidates and plans for putting out signage for the upcoming primary in March.

There was a large turnout for the monthly meeting and very few seats were left unoccupied.

Tom Bregger provided the party’s treasury report on behalf of Terry Sexton, who was not present, which stated that the party’s ending balance was $9,841.31.

Sheriff B. Phil Howell discussed the morning’s county commissioner meeting and the large turnout present when Ashe County was declared a Second Amendment Sanctuary, as well as the standoff that occurred on Jan. 15.

“I can honestly say this, I’m proud to be a sheriff, I’m proud to be here and I appreciate everything that everybody in this room is doing and like I told the commissioners this morning, I support what they were doing,” Howell said.

Chairman Todd McNeil, spoke about the crowd who showed up to the courthouse that morning and talked about how respectful everyone was.

“It went about as well as we could possibly hope. A lot of folks here were there and we appreciate everybody taking time out of the day to come this morning. So we’re excited,” McNeil said.

He also shared information about the convenience center on NC-16 has been approved and paved with new asphalt. The next step is for Blue Ridge Energy to hook up the power for the new recycling center, which will make life easier for those living in the area.

The new convenience center site on NC-163 is nearing completion, which will serve the Glendale, Boggs and Idlewild area.

The addition of these facilities will help take some of the traffic flow off of the Baldwin site.

McNeill also provided an update of the industrial site acquisition in Beaver Creek after receiving favorable reports from the engineers handling the project. The only plan for that would be to expand the full industrial park and make it available.

He also congratulated Howell on his team’s actions in handling the standoff situation.

McNeill shared his excitement about being asked to serve on the agriculture steering committee, which is a statewide steering committee.

He will be traveling to Raleigh to serve there and be a voice for agriculture in Ashe County.

McNeill was also asked to serve on the executive committee of the High Country Council of Government as Vice Chair. The organization serves seven counties in the region as well as its 19 municipalities. According to McNeill, the HCCOG is essentially the administrator for funds that federal and state governments give to the high country counties. They are the ones that take the time to say what counties get what amount of funding and handle the dispersion of funds.

Paula Perry congratulated Howell and his team and also thanked everyone who went to the commissioner’s meeting.

Perry shared information about a Constitution Class, which will begin on March 5 and will be a 13-week course at Mount Paddy Church. Fliers were available for those interested to obtain more information from a table set up with one of the representatives who was available for questions.

“We’ve only had five, six, seven or eight people come to this class, I’d like to see about 20, 25 in this class. Because I promise you, you will not be disappointed,” Steve Mochen said.

Jason Krider, who is running for a seat on the board of commissioners, introduced himself and shared background information and his passion for giving back to Ashe County.

N.C. Sen. Deanna Ballard was present and gave an update on two bills which included one for a a 3.9 percent pay raise for teachers and another for a raise in community college system educator pay. Across the board in the Senate, all 21 Democrats voted against the bill to strengthen educator pay in the state.

They also did not completely override the entire conference budget and it is now sitting in the senate and they are still working out some kinks.

Putting out signage for the candidates running in the primaries in each precinct was also discussed.

The consensus was to have the volunteers for each candidate meet at the GOP office to bundle the signs on March 1 put out the signs March 2.

The date for the Republican convention is March 7.

Ashe County Republicans will hold their next meeting on Feb. 18 at Sweet & Savory Bakery & Deli at 6 p.m.

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