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Avery Commissioners Approve $2M Swimming Complex, Delay Awarding Ag Building Contract

By Tim Gardner

During their regular monthly meeting Nov. 6, Avery County Commissioners approved a contract for construction of a new swimming pool complex, but tabled awarding a contract for construction of a new Co-Operative Extension Service Agricultural Building.

All commissioners-Chairperson Martha Hicks; Vice-Chairman Blake Vance; Wood Hall (Woody) Young, Jr.; Tim Phillips; and Faye Lacey were present. County Manger Phillip Barrier and county attorney Michaelle Poore also were present. Assistant County Manager and Clerk to the Commissioners Cindy Turbyfill was absent. Filling in as the commissioners clerk was Dawn Carpenter, administrative assistant to Barrier.

By a 3-2 vote, Boomerang Designs of Charlotte, NC was awarded construction of the new swimming pool complex at a cost of $2,077,075.00. Young, Phillips and Hicks voted in favor, with Lacey and Vance casting the negative votes.

The commissioners had approved Boomerang Designs to perform soil samples and a land survey for the project at their October meeting. Architect Robert Johnson of Boomerang Designs has told the commissioners that the pool can be completed within two years from the time construction begins.

Barrier advised the commissioners that the county has received $187,000 in grant money to develop a storm water mitigation plan at the site of the new swimming pool complex on the corner of Ash and Shady Streets in Newland. The grant will help address run off on the property and help set parameters for development of the property. The funds will give the county a chance to develop a number of innovations that will slow flooding, as well as filter storm water and improve the waters of Kentucky Creek and the North Toe River.

But the commissioners delayed awarding a construction contract for the new agricultural building.   Garanco, Inc. of Charlotte, NC submitted the lowest construction bid of $1,399,900.00 on the project. Its bid provides allowances of $10,200.00 for: Unsatisfactory Soil Excavation and Replacement Mass ($800.00); Unsatisfactory Soil Excavation and Replacement Trench ($1,100.00); Rock Excavation and Replacement Mass ($2,750.00); and Rock Excavation and Replacement Mass ($5,550.00). Another provision of the Garanco bid is that the project is to be completed within 225 calendar days with liquidated damages in the amount of $1,000.00 per day if it is not completed by then.

However, Young expressed concerns about what firm would be performing the agricultural building’s electrical sub-contracting. And after Poore said a change in a sub-contractor might alter the bid of the project, the commissioners voted unanimously (5-0) to table discussion about approving a contract for the building’s construction to a future meeting.

In another vote (4-1), the commissioners hired David Hill of the Piedmont Triad Regional Council, an entity of the Management and Personnel Services Group, Inc., to conduct comprehensive classification and pay vendor studies for the county. Lacey voted against using the studies, saying she is “not sure the county needs this done.”

The commissioners also voted (5-0) for $150,000.00 to be used for renovations and additions to Avery County High School. A vast majority of that money ($147,026.00) will come from proceeds from lottery funds and the other $2,974.00 will be transferred from the county’s General Fund for the renovations and additions.

In the Celebrate County Government segment, commissioners recognized the following county employees: Jamey Johnson, Communications Supervisor; Harold Greene, Maintenance; David Shelton, Emergency Management Services; Jeff Raimo, Transportation; and Linda Hanna, Transportation. Johnson has 21 years of service to the county, while the others have 20 years each. All were present at the meeting except Johnson. Those employees were given appreciation notebook-plaques with a county seal pin.

Sheriff Kevin Frye also gave Behind the Scenes Hero Awards to Selena Moretz and Beth Browning of the Children’s Advocacy Center of the Blue Ridge, located in Foscoe.

The CACOBR is a program of the South Mountain Children and Family Services, serving primarily Avery and Watauga counties. It provides forensic interviews, child medical exams, family advocacy and therapeutic services to victims and their non-offending family members.

Moretz is the CACOBR Director and Forensic Interviewer. She has been employed with South Mountain since 2011 and has performed more than 600 forensic interviews, including 65 for Avery County.

Browning is the Family Nurse Practitioner for CACOBR and has been employed with South Mountain for 29 years. She has performed more than 3,000 child medical exams and specializes in identifying signs of physical and sexual abuse.

In other business, the commissioners:

*Unanimously voted to appoint Avery Schools Superintendent Ken Townsend to the Community Child Protective Team and Amy Crabbe of the Appalachian Regional Health Care System and Ed Hinson of Sky Line/Sky Best to the High Country Workforce Development Board.

*Unanimously approved a new county logo as submitted by Ken Walter and Larry Hazen of the Economic Development Committee.

* Received an update from Barrier about the new county playground. Barrier said construction should be completely finished in the spring of 2018.

*Unanimously approved a budget amendment of $7,500.00 to move funds from those available for appropriations to public buildings and grounds for analysis and work on the county jail roof leak.

*Unanimously approved a budget amendment from the Sheriff’s Department to recognize two grants received from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety for equipment ($24,500.00) and a Domestic Violence Officer ($51,748.00) to go with $17,250.00 appropriated from the county fund’s balance. Commissioners noted that the domestic violence officer position will be on a year-to-year basis based on available funding.

*Following a public hearing, unanimously adopted a Schedule of Values as requested by Tax Assessor Bruce Daniels. The true value and present use value schedules, standards and rules will be used in the 2018 appraisal of real property.

*Were informed by Tax Collector Bruce Daniels that October 2017 tax collections were $1,378,741.00.

*Unanimously approved a budget amendment to recognize a $60,000.00 Homeland Security Grant paid by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and awarded to the county’s Emergency Management Services (EMS) for the purchase of a one-ton, prime mover truck.

*Approved the following designated smoking areas (only): Courthouse-outside sidewalk on building’s perimeter; Sheriff’s Office-gazebo outside the office; Administration Building-gazebo in adjoining Town Park; and Transportation, Garage, Emergency Management Services (EMS) and Parks and Recreation Buildings and Grounds-areas assigned by those department heads.

The next regular monthly commissioners meeting will be Monday, Dec. 4, beginning at 3:30 p.m. in their Board Room in the County Administration Building.