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W.J. Aldermen deny Baldwin fire substation

Board approves S. Jefferson closure for Antiques Fair

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The West Jefferson Board of Aldermen at their August meeting Monday denied a request from Baldwin community for a fire substation, and voted to approve closure of South Jefferson Avenue for the Antiques Fair Friday, Aug. 27.


Ed Braxton of Stonebridge with Lynda McDaniel of Big Tree requested “the courtesy of a response” from the board to a long-standing request for a West Jefferson Fire Department substation for the Baldwin community.


Braxton said discussion of a possible Baldwin substation had begun two years ago, but that several written requests for board approval had gone unanswered this year.


“Many of the homes in this area are 10 or more miles away from a fire station. This puts our families in serious jeopardy should there be a house fire or…a forest fire,” he said.


Isolated in wooded, hilly terrain, many homes in the community are particularly vulnerable to fires burning uphill, McDaniel said.


Baldwin has completed the Forestry Service's Fire Wise certification, but a pair of recent house fires would have been disastrous if not for fortuitous wet weather, Braxton said.


Braxton argued that Baldwin pays $500,000 annually in local taxes. Three other fire districts — Creston, New River and Pond Mountain — have added substations for less than $300,000 each, he said.


Alderman Calvin Green said Baldwin pays approximately $3,000 in fire tax in West Jefferson.


Mayor Dale Baldwin said he had spoken with Fire Chief Donnie Miller and learned “a substation is not feasible.”


Green suggested Baldwin would be better served by Fleetwood fire district, which has the nearest first responders.


Alderman Tom Hartman said a possible partnership between the county, and West Jefferson and Fleetwood fire districts should be explored. “I would approach the county and just see,” he said.


“We just want to be protected…we're more than happy to work with whichever entity,” said McDaniel.


Jefferson Avenue Closure


The board unanimously approved a request from Antiques on Main owner Keith Woodie for closure of South Jefferson Avenue for the West Jefferson Antiques Fair next month.


The West Jefferson Police Department will close the street at 3 a.m. Friday, Sept. 27, from the Main Street intersection to the traffic signal at Fourth Street.


Woodie said he had not gotten feedback from all affected businesses before requesting the closure. Alderman Calvin Green said the board would have to reconsider the closure if significant opposition arose.


The fair will feature 45 vendors, but in an effort to help downtown restaurant sales, Woodie said, “we're not doing too many food vendors.”


Outdoor seating proposals


Boondocks Brewing owner Gary Brown was given approval for a proposed outdoor seating project in the parking lot on the restaurant's south side.


Brown plans a seasonal 60- by 20-foot covered patio, made of bolt-together sections and designed to be “appealing to the eye.” The movable structure will sit back four feet from the sidewalk on Boondock's privately-owned parking lot, and seat 40-50 guests.


Alderman Stephen Shoemaker cautioned Brown to anchor the patio well against Ashe County's notorious mountain winds.


The board denied an outdoor seating proposal by Black Jacks Pub & Grill to construct a porch on the north wall of the building along East First Street. Shoemaker said the proposed structure would interfere with parking and business access on the narrow side street.


Other business


The Tigra Building at 2 Tiger Drive will be annexed, with West Jefferson town limits extended to incorporate the property. The board must now consider implications of the annex under the 2008 Land Use Plan.


Gene Hafer announced the formation of the West Jefferson Centennial Committee for the town's upcoming 100th anniversary in 2015. The committee was incorporated six weeks ago, when it elected officers and adopted bi-laws, he said.


Alcoholic Beverage Commission Board Chair Haskell McGuire reported $10,000 in liquor tax revenue to the town.


Cardinal Lanes was given a six-month reprieve on their sewer non-compliance issue. The board informed the owners last month they would have to connect to the nearest sewer line under U.S. 221 Business — despite technical difficulties and considerable expense — but gave them more time to explore the possibility of tying into a more distant line along Mount Jefferson Road.


Police Chief Jeff Rose reported there were 263 calls dispatched in July, and 18 auto collisions investigated. Nine people were arrested on charges of DWI, larceny, assault and drug-related crimes.


The board voted to reschedule their September meeting, which will now take place the Monday after Labor Day.

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