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High Country Council of Governments Presents Awards at Annual Banquet on Sept. 7

Sept. 17, 2012. On Sept. 7, 2012, High Country Council of Governments (Region D) held its annual awards banquet to recognize outstanding contributions and achievements by elected officials, local government employees, and advisory committee members. High Country Council of Governments (COG) is a planning and development agency serving local governments in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes, and Yancey Counties. Award winners were selected by elected and appointed officials from the seven-county region. Executive board chairman Robert L. Johnson presented the awards, and applauded all local government employees, local committee members, and citizen volunteers for their hard work and dedication throughout the year.

Yancey County resident Maryallen Estes was honored by her fellow committee members as the Outstanding North Carolina Senior Tar Heel Legislature/Advisory Committee on Aging Member for the High Country region. The NC Senior Tar Heel Legislature consists of two representatives from each county who advocate the needs of older adults to the North Carolina General Assembly. The High Country delegation also serves as the Advisory Committee on Aging for the region. Estes has served on the regional committee since 2007. Locally, she is on the board of the Yancey County Committee on Aging. In addition to these policy-making positions, Maryallen has also been involved in hands-on volunteer activities such as distributing home-delivered meals to seniors on a regular basis.

The High Country Council of Governments Executive Board chose Alleghany County Board of Commissioners Chairman Ken Richardson as their Outstanding Executive Board Member. The award honors service and effort in promoting cooperation among local governments in the region and the state. Richardson has served on the board of commissioners for 20 years, and has been very involved in community organizations and projects. He is active in the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, chairing the Health & Human Services Steering Committee. Richardson received the organization’s Outstanding County Commissioner Award in 2012, which recognizes “commissioners who do great work on behalf of counties beyond their own county boundaries, who give their time and energy to issues of statewide and national significance.”

The recipient of the Outstanding Rural Transportation Advisory Committee Member award was Banner Elk Mayor Brenda Lyerly. Chosen by members of the committee, the award honors exemplary performance while serving the High Country Rural Transportation Planning Organization (RPO). Lyerly chairs the Committee where she has been an active member for over seven years. Her long experience as a Council of Governments board member has given her a regional perspective of the transportation network. The High Country RPO is an organization of local governments working in cooperation with NCDOT to provide transportation planning for the region.

Blowing Rock town manager Scott Hildebran was recognized by the region’s managers as Outstanding Local Government Manager in the High Country region. The award acknowledges the contributions a manager has made to local government through his professionalism, leadership, and accomplishments as manager or chief administrator. Since coming to Blowing Rock in 2003, Hildebran has been instrumental in resolving critical town water supply issues. Scott is dedicated to professional development, as demonstrated by his credentials, active participation, and leadership in various groups such as the International City Management Association and the North Carolina League of Municipalities.

Burnsville Mayor Danny McIntosh was recognized by elected officials as Outstanding Local Government Elected Official in the High Country region. The award honors outstanding leadership and service to the community and region by a town or county elected official. During his tenure, the Town has created a planning board and made critical upgrades to the sewer system. McIntosh is also active with the Yancey County Rescue Squad and previously served as a volunteer fireman.

Alleghany County resident Clark Hunter received the Outstanding Workforce Development Board Member award from his peers on the Board. The High Country Workforce Development Board is a volunteer group of business and community leaders charged with developing regional workforce policy. Members are appointed by their respective county boards of commissioners. Hunter is manager of the Blue Ridge Business Development Center, which provides a variety of services to support and encourage the local economy. Hunter has served on the Board since 2010 as Chair of the Business Services Committee, and as a member of the Executive Committee. Hunter has additionally contributed as a member of the work group that reviewed Workforce Investment Act service provider proposals, which provide program participants with services such as career counseling, skills training, and job placement. Clark is an enthusiastic advocate for entrepreneurial opportunities throughout the High Country local area.

Avery County Commissioner Kenny Poteat was honored with the prestigious Charles Von Canon Regional Leadership Award. Poteat has been a commissioner for 18 years and chairman since 2000. On a regional level, Poteat has been a member of the High Country Council of Governments Executive Board for 17 years; including service on the advisory committee and a term as chairman. He is active in the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, having served on the organization’s Youth Involvement Task Force.

The Von Canon award was created in 1990 to recognize the leadership and unselfish contributions of longtime Region D Chairman Charles Von Canon. It is presented only on rare occasions to a person who has encouraged and facilitated regional cooperation. Past recipients are (in addition to Von Canon) Hugh Morton (1994), Tracy Walker (1996), Dick Fender (2003), Phillip Frye (2004), John Miller (2007), Dana Tugman (2009), Charles Vines (2010), and J.B. Lawrence (2011).