JEFFERSON — On the morning of his first day at the job, Ashe County Parks & Recreation Director Kevin Anderson introduced himself to the public during a regular meeting of the Ashe County Board of Commissioners, on the third floor of the county courthouse at 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 19.
“I look forward to getting started with my team today,” Anderson said. “We look forward as a team to providing quality recreational programs to citizens of all ages, and putting forth facilities that all of our community can be proud of.”
A native of Grayson County, Virginia, Anderson said he and his wife, Jennifer, of Ashe, made their home and raised children within the county. Anderson said he was thankful for his more than 10 years serving as Ashe County Schools Finance Advisor.
“I had to give a little bit more leave time at the school system,” Anderson said. “I requested three weeks, instead of two — I wanted to finish things up right with the school system.”
The commissioners bid greetings to Anderson, and Ashe County Manager Adam Stumb said Anderson stood out from other candidates who interviewed for the $50,787 job to oversee Ashe County’s Parks & Recreation Department, which has a budget of $695,412 for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
As Ashe County Parks & Recreation director, Anderson is successor to Scott Turnmyre, who died Feb. 13.
4-H Afterschool under staffedAshe County Cooperative Extension Director Travis Birdsell appeared before the board of commissioners to make it known that Ashe County’s 4-H Afterschool program at Blue Ridge Elementary is not operational to start the school year due to lack of staffing, despite 31 students being signed up for the service.
Furthermore, 4-H Afterschool at Ashe County Middle School has been discontinued due to lack of interest, according to Birdsell.
The extension is looking to hire both a site coordinator and a teacher for 4-H Afterschool at BRE, Birdsell said. For information about the job and to apply, go online to ncworks.gov, or call the Ashe extension office at (336) 846-5850.
DSS under budget
Ashe County Department of Social Services is operating well within its $8.1 million budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, according to department director Tracie Downer during her monthly update to the commissioners.
“We will not spend money that we don’t need to spend,” Downer said.
Downer also said two DSS employees have completed interpretive classes, enabling the department to better communicate with Spanish-speaking residents — in addition to contracted work done by Choice Translating, a service based in Charlotte.
The number of foster care children in custody of Ashe DSS remains more than 50, according to Downer. A foster care information session hosted by the nonprofit NEST Alliance will be at Bald Mountain Baptist Church from 9 a.m. until noon Saturday, Aug. 24, with the community encouraged to attend, according to Larry Dix during commissioner comments.
The commissioners unanimously endorsed a proclamation from Gov. Roy Cooper declaring Child Support Awareness Month, as read by Downer.
Ashe County DSS collected more than $1.3 million for child support during the 2018-19 fiscal year — good for 99 percent of the department’s state-determined goal, according to Child Support Supervisor Belinda Gilley.
ACSO requests transportation fundingThe Ashe County Board of Commissioners entertained a funding request from Ashe County Sheriff’s Office personnel who are concerned for out-of-county inmates housed in Ashe as part of the state misdemeanor confinement program, then are released from incarceration into Ashe County at the end of their sentence.
Infrequently, out-of-county inmates have nobody to pick them up from jail, and end up walking off down the road in whatever direction is home, creating a moral question of whether ACSO should offer some way of getting these newly freed people back to their home county, rather than letting them walk through the freezing mountain climate during winter.
ACSO requested $1,000 from the board to help buy otherwise out-of-luck former prisoners a ride home via Ashe County Transportation Authority, on the rare occurrence when there is no one else to pick that prisoner up.
The commissioners agreed there was some moral and neighborly duty to help return freed prisoners to their homes, but tabled the request, electing to ask Ashe County Attorney John Kilby about potential liabilities that might come of funding such an endeavor.
Commissioner Larry Dix said he would like to sit down with Sheriff B. Phil Howell and come up with creative solutions for the problem, rather than spend taxpayer money.
Sheriff Howell also appeared before the board, receiving unanimous support to cash a check donated anonymously, written to ACSO for a canine. Donations are sometimes made to the sheriff’s office, according to Howell.
Community paramedic program updateCody Darnell of the Ashe Community Paramedic Program provided an update during year two of the public service project funded by a Duke Endowment Grant. The three-year community paramedic program is funded for $350,000, and minded toward preventative treatment of patients, based on the recommendations of 23 or more local and regional physicians, according to Darnell.
In its second year, Ashe Community Paramedic Program, employer of four, is operating under-budget, and has helped in excess of 60 patients, working in partnership with Ashe Memorial Hospital Food Pantry, Ashe Medication Assistance, Blue Ridge Opportunity Commission, Western Youth Network, AppHealthCare and the 23 or more physicians who refer patients to the service.
Ashe County Volunteer Coordinator Terri Hopkins was approved by the board to make a Facebook page that will promote volunteer events, and act as a replacement for the Volunteer Initiative Program newsletter.
A volunteer event is in the works for National Make A Difference Day Oct. 26, Hopkins said, and the annual canned food drive is Oct. 7 through Dec. 6, with the Children’s Christmas Project looking to help 1,000 children this year.
Carolina Timberworks Owner Eric Morley offered to donate a timber frame to the county if the board of commissioners would consider installing some signage pointing motorists toward the industrial park from the intersection of Beaver Creek School and Beaver Creek roads, where there is currently no road sign.
Chairman Todd McNeill said it only makes sense to put some signage at the intersection, and acting county manager Adam Stumb said he would look into the possibility.
Ashe County is officially home to the N.C. barbecue state championship, which was formerly hosted in Tryon, according to Blue Ridge Theater Barbecue Coordinator James Killian. Search www.ashepostandtimes.com for more information about the Blue Ridge BBQ & Brew Festival scheduled for Aug. 30-31.
Donnie Johnson, of Jefferson, was reappointed to the Ashe County Parks & Recreation Advisory Board.
Angela Taylor, of West Jefferson, was reappointed to a three-year term to the Ashe County Joint Community Advisory Committee for Long Term Care.
Delmar Roten was reappointed and Rick Price was appointed to the West Jefferson Extraterritorial Jurisdiction board.
“Thank you to all these folks for your willingness to serve your community,” McNeill said.
County offices will be closed for Labor Day Monday, Sept. 2, but convenience centers will remain open, according to the county manager.
Following the public session of the meeting, the board of commissioners went into closed executive session to discuss real property acquisition for 1 hour, 24 minutes — from 11:15 a.m. until 12:39 p.m.
The next meeting of the Ashe County Board of Commissioners will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3, one day later than usual due to Labor Day.