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JEFFERSON — The Ashe County Board of Commissioners met in regular session on July 20 at 9 a.m. in the small courtroom on the third floor of Ashe County Courthouse.

During the public comment period, Robert Brown of West Jefferson addressed the board concerning a homeowner association dispute.

Ashe County Building Inspector Jonathan Stansberry was available to speak with Brown and provide assistance and Chairman Todd McNeill said Brown can contact the BOC or County Manager Adam Stumb if he is in need of additional help.

Ashe County Schools Superintendent Dr. Eisa Cox introduced herself at the meeting and shared some of her background with the BOC.

“I love Ashe County, I’ve been here quite a few times over the years through friends and people who grew up in the area so it’s really nice to be here and be among people who know what it’s like to come together as a community,” Cox said. “I hope to soon become a part of that community.”

Tax Administrator Chris Lambert presented the final report for fiscal year 2019-20.

According to Lambert, last July when they mailed out bills the levy was $20,722,153.26 and after that original levy was established they completed $631,000 worth of discoveries throughout the year. The discoveries include public utility companies such as Blue Ridge Energies and SkyLine Telephone Company.

According to Lambert, the County of Ashe is one of the counties that offers a discount to citizens who pay their taxes early. During the months of July and August, they honored $270,000 worth of discounts in the last year.

Total payments made to their office were $20,114,132.55.

As for collection rates, Lambert said the county has collected 98.37 percent of the original levy and 95.69 percent of the current levy. Lambert says this is an increase from last year.

They have collected $1,035,961.78 in county taxes, which includes fire tax and solid waste disposal fees.

Bruce Heuster spoke on behalf of Bob Clifton in an extension request for an airport hangar lease.

Clifton is asking for a 10-year extension on his lease which expires in October of 2026.

Heuster said they are requesting this extension in advance due to concerns about Clifton’s health. The hangar in question is one of the quonset hangars and if the lease were to be extended if any issues were to occur if would still be Clifton’s responsibility and not the county’s.

County Manager Adam Stumb said typically they do not sign leases in advance and it was suggested by both Stumb and the BOC for Heuster to confer with the Airport Advisory Board.

The BOC invited Heuster to return after meeting with the Airport Advisory Board and receiving additional clarification.

Sheriff B. Phil Howell and his Executive Assistant Jessica Vogler were present to ask for approval of the COPS Grant.

The Ashe County Sheriff’s Office had made a budget request to hire four officers for the upcoming fiscal year due to drastic increases in call volume. Administrative Coordinator Brian Blanco applied for a COPS Grant to put four officers on the road and the ASCO recently notice that they were awarded $483,000.

Howell already signed the grant in order to obtain additional information, but it is not official until Stumb signs the grant.

The BOC voted all in favor of approving the ASCO’s request.

Stumb provided an update on the Community Development Block Grant Funding for the Ashe County Neighborhood Revitalization project.

“What we stand to gain in this program is about $750,000 that we can put toward housing in the county,” Stumb said.

According to Stumb they are still looking at applicants and those interested may contact the Department of Social Services and ask for DSS Director Tracie Downer or Adult Services social worker Heather Hardin.

A brief public hearing will be held Monday, July 27, at 9 a.m. in the small courtroom on the third floor to ask for a reading of the resolution and its approval.

During the commissioner comments period Commissioner William Sands spoke about the county’s financial report.

“This virus, continues to be a concern and you hear a lot of different opinions on where it’s going and I don’t really know, but our financial report this morning was real good from our tax office,” Sands said.

Vice Chair Larry Rhodes thanked AppHealthCare Director Jennifer Greene and her staff for all of their hard work during this time and said his prayers are with them.

He also spoke about how he continues to receive compliments about the county’s fireworks on July 4 and how he appreciates the work by the county’s recreation department.

McNeill closed out the commissioner comments portion with another welcome to Cox and her family before the BOC entered an Executive Session to discuss Economic Development issues.

This recorded meeting can be accessed by visiting the Ashe County Government website at ashecountygov.com, clicking on the “Commissioners” tab and selecting “Meeting Agendas, Minutes and Videos” from the drop down menu.

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