By Tim Gardner
By a 5-0 vote during their regular monthly meeting Monday, May 4, the Avery Commissioners voted to ease some of the county’s State of Emergency measures due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic.
All Commissioners–Martha Hicks (Chairperson); Blake Vance (Vice-Chairman); Wood Hall (Woodie) Young, Jr.; Tim Phillips; and Dennis Aldridge were present at the meeting, which was held in their Chambers in the County Administration Building in Newland with Social Distancing in effect.
Other leading county officials attending included: County Manager Phillip Barrier, Jr.; Interim Finance Officer Ashley Cole Ingwersen; Assistant County Manager and Clerk to the Board Cindy Turbyfill; and County Attorney Michaelle Poore.
The commissioners suspended the 14-Day Quarantine requiring all residents and non-residents of the county arriving for overnight stays to self-quarantine themselves for a period of fourteen days or seven (7) days once symptoms have resolved, whichever time is longer, while in the county, if arrival was preceded by overnights outside the county. The measure excludes only emergency and essential workforce persons.
The Commissioners also opened small rentals by fifty percent and suspended the closure of campgrounds. The latter means that campgrounds in the county can open without any restrictions.
The commissioners also highly recommend that masks must be worn and social distancing followed by all persons entering the county for overnight stays, those using campgrounds, other visitors and part-time and year-round residents.
All Covid-19 measures adopted by the commissioners are contingent to Governor Roy Cooper’s directives, which he is may change in phases beginning on May 8. The commissioners agreed to still adhere to Governor Cooper’s guidelines and restrictions regarding the COVID-19 such as gatherings not exceeding 10 people, restaurants not offering any indoor seating to customers and barber shops and hair saloons remaining closed until he also changes them in phases.
Additionally, the commissioners unanimously (5-0) approved a contractual agreement with Garanco, Inc. to build a Community Room at the county’s Agricultural Cooperative Extension Center at Heritage Park in Newland. $1,550,000.00 has been set aside for the project, according to Barrier, Jr.
Garanco, Inc. is a Pilot Mountain, NC based general contracting agency, dedicated to providing exceptional building and design services. Focusing on custom design and renovation of commercial properties, Garanco, Inc. is skilled with a full range of construction styles and services.
And the commissioners also unanimously approved a Solid Waste Disposal agreement with the City of Bristol, VA to dispose of Avery County’s trash for a period of July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2025. The per tons costs of the Solid Waste Disposal will be: $17.30 in Fiscal Year One; $17.80 the next (second) fiscal year; $18.00 the third FY; $18.35 the fourth; and $18.70 the fifth.
During his monthly report, County Tax Administrator Bruce Daniels told the Commissioners that the county collected $197,443.08 in taxes for the month of April 2020.
In other business, the Commissioners made the following Service Board appointments: Moses Braswell and Jim Phillips to the Agriculture Advisory Committee and Jerry Moody to the Economic Development Committee.
The Commissioners will next meet on May 18 and then again on June1 in their bi-monthly and regular monthly sessions, respectively. Both meetings will commence at 3:30 p.m.