The Ashe County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday formed a search committee to find a new county manager, and opted to postpone completion of the airport runway extension until spring.
Following an executive session on personnel, Commissioner Judy Poe moved to nominate herself and the other four commissioners “to a seach committee for a county manager for Ashe County.” The motion was unanimously approved.
According to Poe, the board has no short list of candidates for county manager at this time.
Former County Manager Dr. Pat Mitchell was removed by the board Aug. 19, in a 3-2 vote.
Runway project postponed
Chairman Larry Rhodes during the board’s work session said the county’s airport runway project is “at a crucial time frame right now as far as what needs to be done and what can be done as winter weather heads in our direction.”
James Moose of AVCON, a Charlotte airport design firm working with Ashe County, announced site preparation for the runway extension had been completed recently.
Paving and lighting of the runaway had been bid in July with the anticipation that work could begin mid-August, Moose said.
“Unfortunately, due to some things with the state and getting the grant processed, that has been delayed. We have not yet gotten grants in place for that project…we have not executed the construction contract,” he said.
Moose said the contractor, Eagle Wood Inc., a Lincoln County firm experienced in airport infrastructure, had agreed to offer the board three options: start work now with a plan to shut down for winter, hold the current bid until work can begin in April or rebid the project in February.
Rebidding the project would cost $8,000-12,000, he said, but this cost would be “reimbursable through the state.”
The board moved to follow AVCON’s recommendation for option two, which would hold Eagle Wood to their July bid price, which is covered by available grant funding.
“Once we have a bid in hand, we can request those (grant) funds,” Moose said.
Finance Officer Sandy Long asked the board for guidance on finalizing the bid with no acting county manager. “There’s no person to sign that contract,” she said.
Director of Planning Adam Stumb said that, due to changes in transportation funding, “In the future, projects like this will be competing against highway projects.”
Animal control non-compliance
Animal Control Director Joe Testerman said Ashe County was among several counties in the region to be found in non-compliance after a recent state inspection.
Three Animal Control trucks were cited for lack of adequate climate control in compartments used to transport animals, which must maintain an ambient temperature of 50-85 degrees Fahrenheit, he said.
“We were deemed in compliance last year, and the year before that, and the year before that.” Testerman said. “Our inspection hasn’t changed, the laws haven’t changed.”
“We got to doing some research, and all the counties are getting hit with the same thing,” he said.
Responding to push-back from county animal control directors, state inspectors had granted extensions for bringing vehicles into compliance, he said.
Testerman said air conditioning and heating would have to be installed in Ashe County’s animal control trucks to comply with regulations.
“How many of our school buses have heating and air to guarantee an ambient temperature for children?” he said. “The answer is none.”
N.C. State Cooperative Extension Director Carolyn Shepherd presented the commissioners with 14-minute video highlighting the Extension’s recent work in the community. This year, Extension’s efforts have included a small fruit production field day for berry farmers, a Christmas tree worker safety program, the 4H Parks program and an Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) tour of local grocers.
Angela Reagan of the Ashe County Veterans Service Office submitted her resignation to the board citing medical issues. The board requested that the position be posted to find a new outreach worker to keep veterans and their widows connected with available federal benefits, which total $457,275 per month in Ashe County.
Ashe County Clerk Ann Clark was recognized for completing her Master Municipal Clerk Certification.
Teresa Patrick was appointed to the Volunteer Advisory Board as the Ashe Memorial Hospital representative.
Roy Elmore was reappointed to the Social Services Board.
Rick Serber and Darrel Hamilton were reappointed to the Ashe County Planning Board.
Dale Wineberg was appointed to the Farmland Preservation Advisory Board.