Keys to the county presented to Keever, Gillispie
Expansion of broadband, water and sewer systems, a new elevated water reservoir and improvements to Bethlehem Park were among the topics discussed at the July 18 meeting of the County Board of Commissioners. ‘Alexander, according to a county press release.
David Moose, Compliance and Procurement Specialist, reported on the Broadband Internet expansion project with Open Broadband LLC. He said the project is about 80% complete, noting that the project has been split into two phases to allow for the design of infrastructure to serve the eastern and northeastern regions of the county. The first phase consisted of the installation of fixed wireless broadband equipment at the Ellendale Tower site and on top of Moore Mountain. Moose said the company plans to upgrade Ellendale Tower equipment to provide a point-to-point connection to a new location within Brushy Mountain Motorsports Park off Lambert Fork Road. As for Moore Mountain, the installers ran into difficulty when it was discovered that the fire tower could not support the weight of the equipment; therefore, the company is negotiating with the owner to install a 40 foot pole on the site. The first phase also included improvements to the Linney’s Mountain tower site.
For phase two, Moose said Open Broadband is working to identify a suitable and affordable tower site in the northeast part of the county. The company is currently negotiating with an owner, but no timeline is available at this time. The Stony Point tower site is nearing completion and will serve areas of eastern Alexander County.
To check service availability with Open Broadband, visit www.openbb.net.
On a related note, Moose informed commissioners that the county received a July 18 letter from the North Carolina Department of Information Technology stating that Yadtel/Zirrus had received a GREAT (Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology) grant. ) in the amount of $1,049,286.75 to provide broadband service to 305 homes and businesses in Alexander County. The county will provide matching funds of $185,168.25.
Moose also provided an update on the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Waterline Expansion Project, totaling approximately $7 million, to install waterlines in areas where an interest in the water service was voiced. The project uses ARPA funds allocated to Alexander County in 2021. Approximately 42,500 linear feet of 2-inch to 8-inch water pipes will be installed in 12 project areas, including Stan De La Drive (rehabilitation and replacement), Bowman Court/Twins Cove Road, Greene Street, Caldwell Pond Road/John Cline Road, Jenkins Moose Road, McAlpin Lane, Advent Church Road, Shepherd Court, Hefner Lane, Kirby Lackey Road/Glass Road, Shook Lane/Jimmy Shook Lane, Hickory Hollow Lane and Laurel Ridge Path. McGill Associates is the project engineer and completed approximately 30% of the design phase. Construction is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2023.
Josh Mitchell, Director of Public Works and Facilities, reported on the Bethlehem Water Reservoir project. He said a hydraulic study was carried out on Bethlehem’s water system in 2021, which showed that the system needed additional water pressure – a problem that could be solved by installing an elevated water tank. . The project consists of a 1 million gallon reservoir, a pumping station and 2,000 linear feet of 16 inch water pipe. The total cost of the project is $5,430,700, of which the county received $2,065,000 in state grant funds. The remaining $3,365,700 will be paid with local funds unless additional grants are received. West Consultants is the project engineer. Construction is tentatively expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2023.
Mitchell also reported on the Bowman Court sewer project, which consists of a pumphouse and 6,500 linear feet of 8-inch force main at a cost of $2,109,600. Of the total cost, the county received $1,554,000 in state grants, with the remainder to be paid for with local funds or additional grant funds. McGill Associates is the project engineer. Construction is tentatively scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2023.
Mitchell then presented information on improvements to Bethlehem Park, including new signage; repave the parking lot; replacing the picnic shelter, concession building and toilets; convert two tennis courts into pickleball courts; the addition of ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) parking; replace poles and lights; repair retaining walls; and stormwater control. The total cost of the project is $1.3 million.
Commissioner Josh Lail, who is a resident of Bethlehem, said the water, sewer and parks projects are needed as the community of Bethlehem is going to experience strong growth in the near future.
“There will be a significant increase in the need for water and sewer volume over the next five to 10 years with new apartments currently being built and other potential developments underway,” Commissioner Lail said. “As far as the park goes, Bethlehem Park is not at the same level of quality as some other county parks. With Bethlehem’s growth and tax base, these improvements are more than justified. I think these plans are excellent, although there are a few things I would like to see added.
• Commissioners approved resolutions to accept ARPA grant offers from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality of $2,065,000 for the Bethlehem Water Reservoir Project and $1,554,000 for the Bowman Court sewer pumping station project.
• Commission Vice Chairman Marty Pennell presented a ‘key to the county’ to Tim Keever, who recently retired from Taylorsville Savings Bank and as chief of the Hiddenite Volunteer Fire Department. Keever worked a total of 43 years at the local bank, including 26 years as chairman and CEO. He served a total of 49 years with the fire department, including 15 years as a fire chief. He is still captain, secretary and treasurer of the department.
“Tim has served Alexander County with many years of hard work and dedication,” Vice President Pennell said. “It is an honor for me to present this plaque to such a good citizen who truly loves Alexander County.”
• Commissioner Josh Lail presented a ‘key to the county’ to Doug Gillispie, who retired from his position as director of public services in May 2022. Gillispie began working for the Alexander County government as a paramedic in February 1997. He was promoted to EMS training. Shift Coordinator/Supervisor in January 2005. In May 2014, he became Acting Director of EMS and was promoted to Director of EMS in September 2015. He worked for EMS Alexander County for approximately 23 years before being promoted to director of public services, a position in which he oversaw emergency and emergency services until his retirement.
“We sincerely appreciate Doug’s dedication to the citizens of Alexander County and wish him an excellent retirement,” Commissioner Lail said.
• Fire Marshal Mark Earle reported that the Ellendale and Hiddenite Volunteer Fire Departments have received enhanced fire suppression ratings from the North Carolina Department of Insurance and the Office of the Marshal of State fires. Ellendale improved to a 5/9E rating and Hiddenite improved to a 4/9E rating. The North Carolina Response Rating System (NCRRS) ranges from one (highest) to 10 (not recognized as a state certified fire department). The 9E rating applies to those who live outside a 5 mile radius of the fire station. Although lower ratings do not necessarily indicate poor service, a higher rating suggests that a department is better equipped overall to respond to fires in its district. Higher ratings can also significantly reduce homeowners insurance rates in that fire district. Earle said he was awaiting the results of the investigation for the Stony Point Volunteer Fire Department.
• Commissioners approved a five-year lease agreement with the Taylorsville Lions Club for $6,000 per year for the use of approximately three acres at the fairgrounds for emergency services training.
• In the County Executive’s report, Rick French said that the General Assembly had approved school resource officers in the state budget. County staff are waiting to see application forms, but public funds normally pay only part of the salary, but not the cars and equipment.
Mr. French said he received a letter from Senator Dean Proctor stating that Alexander County would receive $750,000 from the state budget. He said these funds would be very helpful in filling the funding gaps for water and sewer projects.
French said discussions have begun with NCACC regarding a local ¼ cent sales tax option that would provide funding to volunteer fire departments.
• Commissioners approved a Project Budget Order in the amount of $384,805 for the Alexander Land and Waterway Rehabilitation Assistance Program. The board also approved three budget changes.
• The board named Commissioner Larry Yoder as a voting delegate for the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners’ (NCACC) Annual Conference in August and the Legislative Goals Conference in November.
• Commissioners held a public hearing that continued from the June 6 meeting to discuss the Alexander County Hazardous Materials Containment Plan. The plan was approved as presented.
The next meeting of the Alexander County Board of Commissioners is scheduled for Monday, August 1 at 6:00 p.m. at the CVCC Alexander Center for Education (Room #103). Agendas, minutes, videos and more are available on the county’s website at https://alexandercountync.gov/commissioners.