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Avery To Receive $340,745 in Additional CARES Act Funding; Ag Building Community Room’s Audio Engineer Resigns

By Tim Gardner

During the regular monthly meeting of the Avery Board of Commissioners August 3, details were released that the county will be receiving a second allotment of CARES Act funding for more than one-third of a million dollars, a resolution regarding the Mayland Community College’s Anspack Advanced Manufacturing School was adopted and Inspections and Planning Director Tommy Burleson gave a report about the Eagles Nest Development in Banner Elk.

County Manager Phillips Barrier, Jr. informed the commissioners that the county will be receiving a second allotment of CARES Act funding for $340,745, which will bring the its total to $876,403. The amount will be split with the towns by 55 percent, and each town will be required to submit a plan on how their allotments will be used by September 1.

Barrier, Jr. introduced a contract to the board with for specialized consulting services, which he said will be needed by the county in order to properly administer a FEMA reimbursement. The board unanimously approved the services and for the county to pay $55 per hour to the consultant, with the funds will be covered under the CARES Act.

“I want to brag on Avery County and our government,” Barrier, Jr. said. “Avery is one of the only counties that is having meetings with its health department, and I want to thank the health department for that. Our sheriff (Kevin Frye) recently attended a Sheriff’s Association meeting and there’s this big fight about not working together, with this person not releasing funds or that person. This is not happening in our county. Our health department officials sit down twice weekly with the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) director, the emergency management director, the sheriff and myself. And each director talks about the same goal. Through this COVID pandemic, we are all making the very best effort to serve our citizens and I’m proud of that.”

The commissioners unanimously (5-0) approved the resolution regarding the Mayland Community College Anspack Advanced Manufacturing School. The resolution states that the manufacturing school has been receiving non-recurring multi-campus funds for the past four years and requests that the county provide recurring funding.

“They’ve (MCC)been getting a lot of work during COVID-19, and they’ve had it for a pretty good while, and they’re now seeing that it’s going to be a tremendous benefit for the college. This last meeting, we had, we decided to do a resolution and bring it to the commission,” said Commissioner Martha Hicks, who also sits on the Mayland Community College Board of Trustees.

Commissioner Hicks added that the Anspach Advanced Manufacturing School is a state-of-the-art facility with a technology-rich Rapid Prototype Center, its 3D metal printing has been used extensively by businesses and industry and its the region’s primary source for two-year engineers.

The Avery County Planning Board passed a motion on July 27 to present the Eagles Nest plat as approved to the board of commissioners. Burleson told the commissioners about Phase Two of Eagles Nest Holdings’ Vineyard Village.

Burleson gave details of a watershed that the development uses that provides clean water to the homeowners, which also is used for other purposes.

Commissioner Dennis Aldridge expressed concern about continuing the development without providing sufficient security to the homes, citing a recent fire that occurred in the development after lightning struck a residence.

Commissioner Aldridge asked Burleson if there was any consideration for establishing a nearby water access point. Burleson answered that there have been ongoing discussions about that, and offered a solution by tapping into a water source and installing a hydrant near the seafood restaurant and artisanal spring.

Burleson said it “would be included in the master plan for development.”

Commissioner Aldridge asked to table approval until the Board of Commissioners’ September meeting so County Attorney Michelle Poore and the board could review the proposal. The board unanimously approved.

The board approved a memorandum of understanding between the county and the Town of Beech Mountain for the purpose of setting forth the understanding of the parties regarding the provision of the emergency 911 communication system.

“What this is, is if there’s a call for the sheriff’s office, they are already responding first. This is just legally documenting it for the state’s communication system,” Barrier said.

In other county business:

*Structall, Inc. is taking bids from contractors to clean out the abandoned manufacturing plant in Newland. Structall Inc. is based in Oldsmar, FL, and specializes in the manufacturing of a complete line of structural insulated panels for residential and industrial applications. The company’s flagship product is the energy-efficient Snap-and-Lock Panel that are designed for increased efficiency in the building process.

Additionally, the county and the Town of Newland have been in contact with Aldi, Food Lion, Piggly Wiggly, Save Mart and letter packets have been given to 12 different entities about leasing or buying the former Lowes Foods shopping center property.

*Barrier, Jr. requested that all county citizens log onto the Avery County web site and click the link entitled “Help Us Increase Broadband Services in NC,” and complete a survey to help the grant funding agency form an accurate map of broadband service and needs in the county. He said that those who do not have internet can complete the survey by calling or texting (919) 750-0553.

*The commissioners also voted unanimously to make the following advisory/service board appointments: Stephanie Greer-Workforce Development Board: Todd Griffin-Juvenile Crime Prevention Council; and Jack Wiseman Jr.-Agricultural Advisory Board.

The commissioners also held a special meeting at the Agricultural Extension Headquarters on, July 27, to discuss the ongoing progress with the construction of the community building.

Rob Johnson and Pierre Henwood of Boomerang Design updated the commissioners on improvements and technical changes being made to the community building project. The building will have a capacity of 200 to 280 people and include an indoor and outdoor stage. The commissioners approved a series of design and technical changes to the project, encompassing the building’s ceiling, blinds, stage, paint and various other materials.

Henwood submitted two proposals to the commissioners—one for $50,000 and another for $30,700. The second proposal included multimedia presentation capabilities with the capability to be expanded at a later date. Marion Dixon of Audio/Video Enterprises Dixon said the sound setup is functional, but does not have in-house live band capabilities.

However, a live band would be able to use its own equipment and sound engineer. The commissioners had previously agreed on a budget line item of $30,000 to fund the audio and video equipment for the project.

Dixon and the county commissioners failed to come to an agreement, however. After Commissioner Aldridge asked Dixon several questions about the equipment’s reliability and affordability, Dixon abruptly left the meeting and told the board to “go find somebody else.”

The commissioners, Agricultural Extension Director Jerry Moody and Johnson discussed names of different individuals and companies to possibly contract with the county to install the audio and video equipment.

The next regular monthly meeting of the commissioners will be Tuesday, September 8, beginning at 3:30 p.m. in their Board Room in the County Administration Building in Newland. The meeting was moved from the day before because of Labor Day.