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JEFFERSON — The Ashe County Board of Commissioners voted to change its meeting times Monday, Nov. 4, reverting the first meeting of the month’s time from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m.

The board began having the first meeting of the month at 6 p.m. July 1, following a vote at their March 4 meeting.

The proposal for the reversion was first brought up by Commissioner William Sands at the board’s Oct. 21 meeting, saying the meetings were becoming a strain on county resources while the attendance had not improved in the way the board had hoped for. Sands said that at the end of the day, people will come to the meetings dependent on the agenda, not the time of day.

Sands’ beliefs were echoed by Commissioner Larry Rhodes, who said it is easy enough to find out information about upcoming meetings, and that the winter will not make it easier on anyone.

On the other side of the discussion was Commissioner Larry Dix, who vocally supported the evening meeting times. Dix said the board had not given the night meetings enough of a chance to show their value, and that it gave people more of an opportunity to be present at them.

At the Oct. 7 meeting, Board Chairman Todd McNeill voiced his disappointment in the lack of turnout to the night meetings.

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, no discussion was held, with Sands and Dix agreeing enough discussion had already taken place in the prior meeting.

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 section of the meeting, held immediately after the vote, Dix said the evening meeting times sent a message that the board wants to hear from the people of Ashe County. He said that even with the meetings now being exclusively at 9 a.m., people are still encouraged to come or just get in contact with their commissioners.

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