From the Mayor’s Desk: Town Members Meet with NCDOT to Discuss Landscaping on Valley Boulevard

Published Wednesday, August 28, 2019 at 12:13 pm

Note: Blowing Rock Mayor Charlie Sellers will be providing the High Country Press with news and updates on projects in Blowing Rock. This week, Mayor Sellers shared updates on discussions with the NCDOT on landscaping for Highway 321 and updates with the Memorial Park project. Sellers also announced the promotion of Aaron Miller to Blowing Rock Chief of Police and the promotion of Matt Blackburn to Director of Public Works.

321/Valley Boulevard
 
Chris Pate, David Goodson (Local Citizen and Tree Expert) and I walked the length of Valley Blvd. from Tanger to Blowing Rock Furniture today to discuss the plantings installed by Piedmont Landscaping. Today’s purpose and scope were to take an inventory of the plantings for quality control purposes and to verify that the Town of Blowing Rock is obtaining plantings in accordance with the submitted master plan. The timing of this inventory is crucial to allow for the Town to meet with the NCDOT and Piedmont before new plantings are installed and replaced beginning in mid-September. The unfortunate results of the inventory is a listing of very poor quality plantings and a high number of plantings that are not listed in accordance with the master plan. We have also documented the number of instances where the correct plantings have been installed, however, the size/dimensions are less than agreed upon.  Our next step is to meet with the NCDOT and share our inventory/findings. We will be asking the NCDOT to allow Mr. Pate to be a part of the new/replanting come mid-September for quality control purposes. 
 
Mr. Goodson’s time and effort is another wonderful example of a local citizen with a tremendous amount of knowledge lending a helping and free hand to supply his expertise. What a wonderful thing.
 
Park and Recreation
 
Memorial Park project is well underway. The retaining wall and all dirt-moving are complete. The upper stairs are installed. Our staff will begin the installation of the walkway and ramp the first of the week. We have also reached out to receive a quote on extending the fence along the walkway and basketball/pickleball courts for safety reasons. We are in hopes that the conversion of the lower steps to a more accessible ramp will result in savings material enough to pay for the fence extension.
 
Aaron Miller Promoted to Chief of Police
 
 
Aaron is native of the Blowing Rock community. Aaron and his wife Angie live in the Aho community. They have two sons, Casey 31 and Jacob 27 who both continue to live the area.
 
Aaron graduated from Watauga High School and earned an associate degree in Criminal Justice from Western Piedmont Community College. Aaron has spent over 30 years in emergency services which include 33 years as a volunteer member of the Blowing Rock Fire Department and Blowing Rock Rescue Squad.
 
Aaron began his career in Law Enforcement in January 1990 as a Deputy Sheriff with the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office. In addition, Aaron has worked for North Carolina Probation and Parole and the Hickory Police Department before coming to work for the Town of Blowing Rock in 2007. In 2012 Aaron was appointed to the Police Captain’s position at the Blowing Rock Police Department.
 
Aaron Miller has served as the interim police chief for the past year.
 
Matt Blackburn Promoted to Director of Public Works
 
 
Matt Blackburn has been the Public Works and Utilities Superintendent for Blowing Rock since 2009. He graduated from Appalachian State in 2005 with a degree in Community and Regional Planning.
 
Prior to working for the Town, Matt was employed with an environmental consulting firm and performed wetland and stream delineations throughout North and South Carolina. He and his wife Katie have three sons Sawyer, Tucker, and Ryder.
 
Matt has served as interim public works director over the past year.
 
Sunset Drive Update
 
Blowing Rock Town Manager Shane Fox informed me today that Iron Mountain Construction is moving forward taking advantage of good weather.
 
They have a crew working on the new water line installation and a crew working on installing the new curb and cutting. I understand they are still on target for completion of the project in November. We all need to be patient as the work progresses towards completion of these much-needed improvements.

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