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The Ashe County Board of Commissioners met at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 4, at the Ashe County Courthouse for its first meeting of the month. The meeting saw the signing of a proclamation, approvals and a reappointment.

Board Chairman Todd McNeill opened the meeting, setting the stage for Commissioner William Sands to lead the Pledge of Allegiance and Commissioner Larry Rhodes to say the meeting’s invocation.

Only one person stepped to the podium for public comments, Lost Province Center for the Cultural Arts Executive Director Ann Rose. Rose spoke to the board about a recent trip to speak with members of state legislature including state Sen. Deanna Ballard (R-Blowing Rock) and Rep. Ray Russell (D-Boone). Rose said her and the contingent from the LPCCA were told that letters of support to the officials would go a long way with the restoration of the Lansing School and its transformation into the LPCCA.

Up next was Ashe County Department of Social Services Director Tracie Downer, who gave a departmental update and reminder of the department’s Crisis Intervention Program and Low Income Energy Assistance Program. Downer wanted it to be known that anyone signing up for either must bring bills and verification of income to receive assistance.

She also spoke about November being Adoption Month, bringing forth a proclamation for the Board of Commissioners to sign and declare Adoption Month for Ashe County in 2019. Commissioner Larry Dix, who spoke about having adopting children and providing a foster home, made the motion to sign the proclamation, which Sands seconded. A unanimous vote in favor officially made November 2019 Adoption Month in Ashe County.

Ashe County Emergency Management Coordinator Patty Gambill was the next one to the podium, asking for approval of ACEM’s annual emergency operations plan. Rhodes made the motion for approval, which Sands seconded, and a unanimous vote approved the plan. A second vote for an amendment was made after, when McNeill noticed a typo still listed West Jefferson Police Department Chief Brad Jordan as Interim-Chief of Police.

The next presentation was from Ashe County Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Anderson. Anderson had presented rules and regulations for public use of their cafeteria at Family Central in Jefferson at the board’s previous meeting Oct. 21, and had returned with recommended changes and clarifications.

Changed in the regulations were stricter wording about the prohibition of alcohol on the premises, as well as the intentional vagueness of a rule about county employees being able to remove or cancel reservations. Anderson also stated he wanted to get a bulletin board for the cafeteria to post the rules up in plain view of those in the facility.

McNeill also asked about a ban of vaping devices to add to the rules about tobacco use. Anderson was happy to oblige, and all changes were unanimously approved.

Interim County Manager Adam Stumb was joined by Ashe County Environmental Services Director Scott Hurley for a presentation regarding the convenience center on N.C. 16, its lease and paving. The board started by unanimously approving the center’s lease, before Stumb and Hurley spoke about a potential paving project. Stumb said estimates they have seen so far indicate a cost range of $45-55,000, which is already in the county’s budget. Hurley added the project, weather permitting, could be completed quickly and would not inconvenience citizens for long. McNeill pointed out that the center is the only county-leased convenience center that is not paved. Since the budget was already there, no action was required, and Stumb and Hurley will be left to their own devices.

The commissioners also voted to revert the first meeting of the months’ time from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. Sands made the motion to approve the time change for future meetings, which would begin at the board’s Monday, Dec. 2 appointment. After it was seconded by Rhodes, the motion was approved in a 3-2 vote, with Sands and Rhodes joined by Commissioner Paula Perry, with Dix and McNeill dissenting.

During the commissioner comments portion of the meeting, Dix spoke about the message the evening meetings sent to the people of Ashe County, and how it is important for the people to contact the commissioners and for the board to hear from the people. He also spoke about the upcoming Veterans’ Day, and the importance of veterans’ service.

Perry congratulated Laurel Springs Fire Department on a recent certification they achieved, and the work they do in the community. She also thanked the VFW for a meal the commissioners were invited to in October. Sands referenced a recent Ashe Post & Times section honoring fire and rescue personnel in Ashe County, thanking the many men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to protect others.

McNeill congratulated county employee Jessica Hodgson and her husband, Paul, who recently welcomed their first child, before imploring people to take the time and thank a veteran and giving an update on the new Wilkes Community College building in West Jefferson.

The board of commissioners then went into executive session, before the meeting was adjourned shortly before 8 p.m. The next meeting will be Monday, Nov. 18 at 9 a.m.

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