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Originally published: 2012-07-12 13:24:21
Last modified: 2012-07-12 13:24:21

Commissioners host back-to-back public hearings

Matthew Hundley / (

Avery County Board of Commissioners got down to business, moving through three public hearings, four board appointments and a variety of informational items during its meeting on Monday, July 2. 

Three public hearings

The first two public hearings of the meeting addressed the closing of one Community Development Block Grant Scattered Housing Program and the opening of the same program for a three-year cycle.

The previous iteration of the Scattered Housing program applied more than $380,000 of its allotted $400,000 to repairs and replacements to five households in disrepair around the county. Three households received relocation, while two more received rehabilitation assistance. 

The second public hearing was held to give citizens the opportunity to weigh in on the county’s application for another three-year Scattered Housing program. Michelle Ball, who serves as community development planner for High Country Council of Governments, noted that Avery’s allotment would likely be smaller in the upcoming program due to the state of the budget. The degree of the cuts to Scattered Housing programs across the state will not be known until the budget is finalized. No citizens commented on the project.

The commissioners held its third and final public hearing of the meeting to gather public comment on the county’s new 10-Year Solid Waste Management Plan, presented by Department of Solid Waste Director Buddy Norris. The plan outlined plans for reducing waste to meat state-mandated goals. The commissioners and Norris agreed that the state-set goals were out of reach because the goals are based on trash production by Avery County’s census population, which does not account for the thousands of part-time residents.

“I don’t know what else you do,” said Commissioner Scott Heath, noting the recycling efforts already in place and praising Norris for his department’s work.

Norris also noted the recent addition of construction and demolition waste disposal site at the County Transfer Station/Landfill, located at 2175 Brushy Creek Road. No Avery citizens commented on the new plan.

Four board appointments

Avery County Board of Commissioners made a series of board appointments at its July 2 meeting. 

Avery County Board of Commissioners nominated its chairman, Kenny Poteat, to represent Avery County at the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners annual conference Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 16 to 19. As the voting delegate, Poteat will vote on behalf of Avery County during the conference.

The commissioners reappointed Rachel Deal to Avery County Joint Community Advisory Committee for another three-year term. Deal’s previous term ended on Sunday, July 1.

Bonita Smith will replace Harry Smith on Avery County Agricultural Advisory Board. Bonita will finish Harry’s term, which he was unable to complete due to personal scheduling conflicts. Bonita is a farmer and volunteers for numerous programs and committees around the county. 

Martha Laura Miller applied to assume an ETJ vacancy for Banner Elk. The commissioners approved Miller, who has experience in banking and small business. 

Ranger’s report

Joe Shoupe, Avery County Ranger for N.C. Forest Service, addressed Avery County Board of Commissioners to present his annual report on the forest service’s work in Avery County. Shoupe cited a number of accomplishments in his presentation. According to Shoupe, in fire control, the forest service responded to 50 wildland fire calls, 16 of which required intervention. The 16 fires burned 24.4 acres. According to NCFS, quick intervention in cooperation with volunteer fire department saved 43 structures a total of $5.5 million in value. 

In addition to firefighting, Shoupe has also worked with individual homeowners to eliminate fire hazards and with towns to establish pre-attack plans for local fire departments. 

Shoupe also described accomplishments in the realms of forest management, water quality and pest control.