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Avery County Commissioners Met Monday, Greene Rehired as Finance Officer by Commissioners

By Tim Gardner

     The rehiring of a former County Finance Officer and County Manager to the former post was the top action taken during the regular monthly meeting of the Avery County Board of Commissioners November 5.

     All commissioners-Chairperson Martha Hicks; Vice-Chairman Blake Vance; Wood Hall (Woodie) Young, Jr.; Tim Phillips; and Faye Lacey were present. County Manager Phillip Barrier, Jr.; Assistant County Manager and Clerk to the Commissioners Cindy Turbyfill; and County Attorney Michaelle Poore also were present.

     By a 4-1 vote, former Avery Finance Officer and County Manager Tim Greene was rehired by the Commissioners as the County’s Finance Officer. Hicks, Vance, Young, Jr. and Phillips voted for Greene’s appointment. Lacey voted against.

   Greene replaces Nancy Johnson as Finance Officer. Johnson, who resigned earlier this year, had been Avery Finance Officer since February 2015.

     Greene previously served as Finance Officer for twelve years and as County Manager for one. He returns to work in Avery County Government after serving as Vice President of Administrative Services at Mayland Community College.

     Greene’s appointment in his new job is effective November 19.

     During the monthly Celebrate County Government segment of their meeting, the Commissioners recognized Juanita Cantrell, Food Stamps Officer of the Avery Department of Social Services for her dedicated and astute service to the County in her job. Cantrell was given an appreciation notebook-plaque with a county seal pin by Hicks.

     The Commissioners also approved allocating $355,000.00 to Mayland Community College for operational purposes for the 2018-19 fiscal year by a 5-0 vote. That figure represented an increase of $4,000.00 from last year’s county allocation.

     Mitchell County gave MCC $379,840.00 for 2018-19 and Yancey County gave it $373,750.00.

     The Commissioners also unanimously approved resolutions regarding Memorandums of Understanding between Avery County Transportation and Mayland Community College for Fiscal Years 2018/2019 & 2019/2020 and a resolution regarding a Memorandum of Understanding between Avery County Transportation and the Avery Association for Exceptional Citizens, Inc. for Fiscal Year 2019/2020.

     The terms of the Memorandums of Understanding include that the Avery County Transportation Authority will provide transportation services for the Mayland Community College Foundation, Inc. for the following purposes: education, independent living skills, work opportunities, and Mayland’s Pre-College Programs. Those terms also state that the Transportation Authority will provide transportation services to the Avery Association for Exceptional Citizens, Inc. for the following purposes: education, independent living skills and work opportunities.     The Transportation Authority will charge the MCC Foundation, Inc. and the Avery Association for Exceptional Citizens, Inc. a modest fee for each time its services are used.

     Additionally, the Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution of commendation for Avery County Christmas Tree grower Larry Smith, who is supplying The White House Christmas Tree this year. The resolution reads: Whereas, since 1966, the Grand Champion of the National Christmas Tree Association has provided the White House Christmas Tree; and Whereas, Avery County has, until now, been twice represented as the Grand Champion; and Whereas, Larry Smith of Mountain Top Fraser Firs began growing Christmas trees while a student at Avery County High School; and Whereas, he is the National Christmas Tree Association’s Grand Champion for 2018 and will be providing the White House Christmas Tree for 2018 to be displayed in the Blue Room; Be It Resolved that the Avery County Board of Commissioners recognizes this great accomplishment which brings international distinction and congratulates Larry Smith of Mountain Top Fraser Firs.

     And the Board selected Vance to be a Voting Delegate for the 2019 State of North Carolina Legislative Goals Conference. Each Board of County Commissioners is requested to designate a commissioner or other official as a voting delegate for the 2019 Legislative Goals Conference.

     The 2019 NCACC Legislative Goals Conference will be held January 10-11, 2019, at the Raleigh Marriott Crabtree Valley in Wake County. The Association’s two-day Legislative Goals Conference represents the culmination of a thorough, deliberate and inclusive process to set a legislative agenda for the 2019-20 Legislative Biennium. A main objective of the conference is to learn why the state’s counties’ legislative proposals matter and then agree upon those that impact all counties. The education that results from the deliberation and debate represents the beginning of the Association’s legislative work.

     The Commissioners also recognized Ken Ketchie, publisher of High Country Press in Boone, who spoke to the Board about his company and presented the Commissioners and County Manager with several of his company’s publications. He told the Commissioners that he was available anytime he could assist them and the County’s government.

     Ketchie also told the Commissioners that he recently featured the Avery YMCA and the Avery County Fair with stories in the High Country Magazine and related articles on his hcpress.com web site.

     Hicks told Ketchie that the High Country Magazine is “her very favorite” and that she “always looks forward to reading the magazine every time it’s published and seeing the excellent articles and superlative pictures in each issue.”

     In other business:

*The Commissioners appointed Clayton Harpold to Avery County Economic Development Advisory Committee.

*Tax Collector Bruce Daniels told the Board of Commissioners that the County’s October 2018 tax collections were $1,668, 987.28.

*Barrier, Jr. also told the Board that the process is still ongoing for the County to obtain use of the old Avery CARES Building for substance abuse recovery groups to use.

*The Board recognized former County Commissioner and County Manager Robert Wiseman, who passed away recently. In Wiseman’s honor, Barrier read The Ragged Old Flag, written by County music performer, the late Johnny Cash, and which Wiseman used to recite at various County functions.

     Wiseman served his Country during the Vietnam Conflict as a Ranger with the 173rd Airborne Division in some of the fiercest fighting in the jungles around Bien Hoa as leader of a seven-man Reconnaissance Team. He was the sole survivor of that seven-man team.

*Her fellow-Commissioners, Barrier, Jr. and Turbyfill presented Lacey with a gift basket as a token of appreciation for her service as a Commissioner. Lacey did not run for re-election this year and the November meeting was her last as a Commissioner.

     The next two Commissioners’ meetings will be on Monday, December 3 and Monday, January 7, 2019 in their Board Room at the County Government Administration Building in Newland. Both begin at 3:30 p.m.