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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Macon County Commissioners Meeting

The regular meeting of the
Macon County Commissioners took place on January 11, 2009. This is the public portion of that meeting.

Highlights of the meeting include a resolution in support of the Upper Cullasaja River Restoration Project to help them get funds from the Clean Water Trust Fund and recognition of the efforts of
Bob Litten in the construction of the Macon County Veterans Memorial.

These are my notes from the January 11, 2009 regular meeting of the Macon County Board of Commissioners:

Call to order and welcome by Chairman Beale

Chairman Ronnie Beale brought the meeting to order.


He announced that there would be a work session on Saturday, February 6th, 2010 at the SCC Board Room starting at 8:30am and would work through lunch and into the afternoon until they worked through all the things in the budget and other matters.

He also announced that there would be a public hearing on certain amendments to the Subdivision Ordinance [PDF] at the January 25th, 2010, meeting, which will convene at 2:00 pm in the Commissioners Board Room.

Invocation and Pledge

Reverend Guy Duvall gave the Invocation and Ronnie Beale led those assembled in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

Public Comment

The Public Comment Period saw two men address the Commissioners, the first was Pastor Greg Rogers [sp?] who spoke to an article in The Smoky Mountain News [link to article] that had caused concern among several people in the churches regarding the removal of Invocation before County Commission meetings. He praised the Commissioners for the stands they took in support of Meeting Invocation in the local media. He recited Acts 4:12 and said that he (and others) would be praying for the Commissioners by name, that they would be guided in their decision-making to do the right thing.

The other speaker was a man named Charlie Calley [sp?] who addressed the Commissioners regarding the economic situation, jobs and requesting that the Commissioners petition the state for a Doe Hunting Season in order that the deer herds might be thinned, and only the biggest bucks might successfully breed.

Chairman Beale told Mr. Calley [sp?] that the Wildlife Commission was meeting in Sylva at SCC next week [Wednesday] and that he could address them as a citizen.

Adjustments to and approval of the agenda

There was less than ten minutes of discussion regarding the agenda providing minor corrections.

New Business:

Upper Cullasaja River Restoration Resolution

The commissioners discussed the resolution to assist in obtaining money from the Trustees of the North Carolina Clean Water Trust Fund to assist in restoring the Upper Cullasaja from an impairment. Ronnie Beale read from the last paragraph of the resolution and some discussion on the issue followed, and the board voted unanimously to pass the resolution.

Chairman Ronnie Beale recognized David Wilkes, the newly elected Mayor of Highlands, who was present in the crowd observing the meeting. The Mayor indicated that he had a steep learning curve over the past few weeks.

Consent Agenda


A few minor adjustments were suggested and approved to the minutes of the last meeting.

Budget revisions

Budget amendments 80 through 84 were discussed by the commissioners, the Finance Officer, County Manager and County Attorney.

Amendment to Animal Control Ordinance

In a similar fashion, adjustments to the Animal Control Ordinance [PDF] were discussed with input from County Manager Jack Horton and County Attorney Leslie Moxley.

Mental Health Resolution

Ronnie Beale discussed a resolution regarding approval of the purchase of real property by Smoky Mountain Mental Health in Watauga County and he brought the other members up to date on the related board he served on.

Governor’s Crime Commission Grant

Sheriff Robbie Holland came forth to discuss a request for the board to pass a resolution supporting re-applying for the Governor's Crime Commission Grant.

In the course of the discussion, he relayed some statistics that the previous year's grant had helped to obtain:

79 new drug cases were opened
207 felonies were charged
48 misdemeanor charges
25 search warrants were served
3 T3 Wires were ran (3 wiretaps)

14 people were charged on the federal level, all plead guilty and would be sentenced later this month
3 people responsible for supplying drugs into Macon County were arrested in Atlanta by Macon County Deputies sworn into Federal Service

Drugs seized

7 grams of cocaine
98 grams of crack
32 grams of meth
177 marijuana plants
4,000 grams of Marijuana
2,900 grams of dried opium

The Macon County Sheriff's Department served as the lead agency in western North Carolina for Operation Pill Crusher:

144,000 pills were collected and taken off the street to be destroyed.

The motion to support the consent agenda passed unanimously.

Board Appointments

Bob Simpson was asked to bring a name forth at the next meeting to replace Christy Dodge, who had resigned from the Franklin-Nantahala TDC (Tourism Development Board)

Ed Shatley, chairman of the Economic Development Commission, was re-appointed to another term, and Gary Drake was appointed replace Hank Ross as the representative of the Town of Highlands.

Chairman Dave Jones of the Franklin Town Board of Adjustment was re-appointed to another term.

Chariman Ronnie Beale will be joining Commissioner Bob Simpson on the Macon Program for Progress Board so that the two together might attend more meetings than just one of them could.

Bob Litten came forth to make a final report to the County Commissioners on his involvement in getting the Macon County Veterans Memorial project underway for the past three years.

He recognized some of the people he wanted to personally thank for their help over the course of the project, among whom were Evelyn Southard (Finance Director of Macon County), Leslie Moxley (County Attorney), Jack Morgan (Building Codes Administrator), Sam Greenwood (former Macon County Manager), Ronnie Beale (Chairman of the Macon County Commissioners), Charlie Leatherman (former Chairman of the Macon County Commissioners), Robbie Holland (Macon County Sheriff), Jack Horton (Macon County Commissioner), Steve Ledford and crew (Macon County Maintenance Dept), all the members of the Macon County Board of Commissioners for being such a great bunch of people to work with, the Town of Franklin, the Town of Highlands, the News Media for spreading the word about the project.

He said he had resigned his role as Chairman of the committee overseeing the project, but was still on the committee, and Neal Riendeau was the new chairman, and he introduced him to speak to the Commissioners to update them on the work of the committee.

He said the Macon County Veterans Memorial was dedicated on July 4, 2009 [see videos] and that, right now, the primary source of funds was through memorial brick sales [right-click to order a brick], which ranged from $100 to $500 apiece. Riendeau said that current projects included the design and construction of an entrance sign to the park to give it more visibility. Members of the committee are working with General Bodenheimer on the design of a full-size bronze sculpture, which is still in the design stage. The idea is to have a woman holding a folded flag in one arm clutched to her chest, with a little girl beside her holding her hand, and a little boy on the other side, holding her arm. They will be in the oval in front of the main flag pole.

Neal Riendeau reiterated what Bob Litten had said, that these men did not do this project alone, that "this was a community project for the community."

Chairman Ronnie Beale then presented Bob Litten with a plaque of appreciation that held a replica of the Macon County flag on behalf of the Macon County Commissioners and thousands of people of Macon County as a small token of their appreciation for his efforts on behalf of the veterans of Macon County.