By Tim Gardner
Avery County has been awarded a huge amount of funds through the Community Development Block Revitalization Grant, its commissioners announced during their regular monthly meeting March 4.
All commissioners attended, including: Chairperson Martha Hicks; Vice-Chairman Blake Vance; Wood Hall (Woodie) Young, Jr.; Tim Phillips; and Dennis Aldridge. Also present were: County Manager Phillip Barrier, Jr.; Assistant County Manager and Clerk to the Commissioners Cindy Turbyfill; Finance Officer Tim Greene; and County Attorney Michaelle Poore.
The grant the county received is in the amount of $610,000.00. Although the vote of approval of a grant award is considered a formality, it is required to be voted on by government regulations. It was unanimously (5-0) approved by the commissioners.
Hicks said the grant can be used for emergency housing repairs and replacement for locals, and was obtained with through the combined efforts of High Country Council of Governments’ Michelle Ball, Poore and Barrier, Jr.
The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program is a flexible program that provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs. Founded in 1974, the CDBG program is one of the longest continuously run programs through the Unites States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
In another topic, Barrier, Jr. said the Avery County Parks and Recreation Department sponsored a “Name the New Pool” contest in which Avery County elementary and middle school students submitted names for the county’s new swimming pool scheduled to open in May. County officials invited each elementary and middle school classroom and their school clubs to take part in the contest. One classroom from each school was selected as a finalist and each member of the finalists’ classroom will receive a one-day free pass to the new pool that can be used during its 2019 season.
From the finalists an overall county winner was chosen, which was the Riverside Elementary Junior Beta Club’s choice of “The Dive In.”
The winning pool name will be included in all marketing and signage at the new facility.
For winning the contest, Riverside’s Beta Club members will be given a pizza party in May as well as its members receiving one-day free passes to the pool.
In finance-related matters, Greene informed the commissioners that the county received additional allocations of $32,768.00 for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program and $822.00 for the Duke Energy Progress Energy Neighbor Fund, with monies from either or both awarded to those needing such assistance in the county by the its Department of Social Services.
Greene advised the commissioners there are no matching county funds in either new fund allocation.
The commissioners unanimously approved the budget allocations.
They also unanimously approved a request from Barrier, Jr. to fund $3,800.00 to have the Board of Commissioners meeting quarters painted. Other parts of the County’s Administration Building, which houses the meeting quarters, are currently in the process of being painted too.
Avery-Mitchell-Yancey Regional Library Director Amber Westall- Briggs presented a detailed yearly report about Avery’s Morrison Library to the commissioners and thanked the commissioners and other county officials for their “awesome and continuous support” of the library system.
Westall- Briggs’ report included information concerning the final payout of the Morrison Charitable Trust, which benefits the local Avery Morrison Library.
She also noted that the library system has added volumes of culturally assorted material at the Morrison Library through a grant from The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina and began researching digitizing the local materials at the Morrison Library.
New Avery Emergency Services Director Mike Edmisten addressed the Board of Commissioners and spoke in particular about the Green Valley Base EMS Unit in Southern Avery County, telling the commissioners the base is manned part-time and that he is working to get it manned 24-hours a day; seven days a week.
Tom McAuliffe, spokesperson for the Edgar Tufts Memorial Association told the Board of Commissioners that Tufts established Grace Hospital (later renamed Cannon Hospital), the Grandfather Home for Children and Banner Elk Presbyterian Church. McAuliffe said that Tufts also left funds in an endowment that were used for the establishment and upkeep of Wildcat Lake in the Town of Banner Elk. McAuliffe noted that the lake eventually was condemned and had to be shut down due to safety hazards, but that Wildcat Lake Damn was rebuilt and refilled with water. He added that while the Grandfather Home for Children has pledged money for Wildcat Lake’s operation, the Tufts Memorial Association might request some funding from the county to keep it in service and will also pursue other funding sources.
Also, Banner Elk Mayor Brenda Lyerly spoke as a representative of the Banner Elk Kiwanis Club and as a member of the county’s Drug Crisis Roundtable, which works to stop all drug abuse in the county including alcohol, methamphetamine (meth) and opioids. Lyerly thanked the commissioners for their help in the unified effort to stop drug abuse.