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Martha Hicks Presented Mayland Community College Honorary Degree during Avery County Commission Meeting

By Tim Gardner

Besides adopting a new 2024-2025 fiscal year budget that is recapped in other articles published on hcpress.com, the Avery County Board of Commissioners took action regarding several more items on its regular monthly meeting agenda for June 3rd.

Additionally, an item was added to the agenda as Martha Hicks, who has served as a county commissioner for 16 years, including much of that period as Board Chairwoman, was presented with an honorary degree from Mayland Community College.

Hick, who also serves on the college’s Board of Trustees, representing the Board of Commissioners in that post, was awarded an Honorary Academic Governments and Leadership Degree by college president Dr. John Boyd.

“I’m greatly honored and deeply touched by being given the honorary degree and I thank Dr. Boyd for bestowing it upon me,” Hicks told High Country Press. “I’m most proud to serve on Mayland Community College’s Board of Trustees. And I’m very appreciative to Dr. Boyd and all others from the college who were involved with me receiving the honorary degree.  The college has done so much for the people of Avery County, as well as for those in Mitchell and Yancey counties.”

Hicks will end her current tenure as a commissioner and as a Mayland Community College Board of Trustees member in December as she did not file to run for another term as a commissioner in this year’s election.

Martha Hicks, long-time Avery County Commissioner and Mayland Community College Board of Trustees member displays the Honorary Academic Governments and Leadership Degree she received from the college at the June 3rd Avery Board of Commissioners meeting. (Picture courtesy of Martha Hicks)

The other action taken by commissioners (Chairman) Tim Phillips, (Vice-Chairman) Dennis Aldridge, Hicks, Wood Hall (Woodie) Young, Jr., and Robert Burleson was by unanimous (5-0) votes, including:

*Adopting a 15-year lease agreement between the County and Linville Resorts for two parcels of land in Linville to be used as a recovery site for the collection of residential garbage, recyclable materials, and debris in refuse containers, trailers, and compactors.

*Adopting a resolution conveying a 13-acre property tract on which Crossnore Elementary School is located from the County back to the Avery Board of Education because a Deed of Trust has been satisfied. 

*Adopting a resolution authorizing levying a 6 percent Room Occupancy Tax in Avery County for District A.

*Adopting the County’s District A’s Tourism Development Authority.

District A is any place or community in the county that is not designated as a town or a village.

*Approving a funding plan for the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council of $88,523.00 with a local match of $26,123.00.

*Approving the following budget amendment requested by Hogan that includes its respective details and monetary amount:

The Department of Social Services has received American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for $15,496.00.

*Approving the May 2024 Tax Report from Tax Administrator Andrea Turbyfill of $92,734.28 in taxes due the County collected by her and her tax collections staff on all days of that month except those on the month’s four weekends and Memorial Day (27th) when county offices were closed and there were no tax collections on that date.

Turbyfill said that $4,237,427.28 in taxes due was collected for the first five months of 2024–January, February, March, April, and May this year. 

In another agenda item, Sarah Price of the High Country Council of Governments addressed the commissioners recommending exact amounts of Opioid Settlement funding they are requested to give to four organizations that have applied for it–Freedom Life Avery, High Country Community Health, Marjorie Williams Academy, and Media and Restorative Justice Center.

As of May 2024, Avery County Government is set to receive $3,097,793 through 2038 as part of several substantial national opioid settlements and bankruptcies.

The commissioners tabled further discussion about how much funding to give to each of the four entities until a special meeting they will hold on Monday, June 17, beginning at 3:30 p.m.

Then, their next regular monthly meeting will be held on Monday, July 1, beginning at 6:00 p.m. 

Both meetings will be in the Commission Board Room on the second floor of the County Administration Building, at 175 Linville Street in Newland.