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MARCH 15, 2010

AGENDA
Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting
Monday, March 15, 2010, 7:00 p.m.
Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room, 1924 Courthouse
30 North College Avenue, Newton, NC

1. Call to Order

2. Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag

3. Invocation

4. Approval of the minutes from the Regular Meeting and Closed Session of February 15, 2010

5. Recognition of Special Guests

6. Public Comment for Items Not on the Agenda

7. Appointments

8. Consent Agenda:


a. Approval to Submit Grant for Criminal Justice Partnership Board


b. 2009 Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Joint Application with the City of Hickory


c. Authorizing the City of Hickory to Issue Pyrotechnics Permits


d. Right of Way Agreement with Duke Energy for Overhead Primary Power Line Feed to Serve Biodiesel Research Facility


e. Tax Refund Requests

9. Departmental Reports:


A. Sheriff’s Office:

Ordinance Preventing Solicitation on Streets. Presented by Major Coy Reid, Deputy Sheriff


B. Technology:

Google Ultra High Speed Broadband Request for Information. Presented by Terry Bledsoe, Chief Information Officer


C. Social Services:

Subsidized Employment through the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Fund. Presented by John K. Eller, Social Services Director


D. Utilities and Engineering:

2010 CDBG Infrastructure Grant – Royal Heights Subdivision. Presented by Jack Chandler, Assistant Director, Utilities and Engineering


10. Other Items of Business

11. Attorneys’ Report

12. Manager’s Report

13. Adjournment

PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES: Individuals needing assistance should contact the County Clerk at 465-8990 within a reasonable time prior to the meeting. A telecommunication device for the deaf (TDD) is located in the Government Center and can be reached by dialing 465 8200. Access to the 1924 Courthouse for individuals with disabilities is at the south side (“A” Street). The elevator is located at the north end of the building. Participation in public meetings is without regard to race, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, color, or disability.

INFOTALK/INTERNET: The Catawba County Telephone Information System will allow you to use your touch tone telephone to obtain current information on Catawba County 24 hours a day. Information is updated on a regular basis. Dial 465-8468 and INFOTALK will direct your questions with easy to understand instructions. Reach Catawba County on the Internet at http://www.catawbacountync.gov.

CALENDAR: The April Board of Commissioners Meetings will take place on Monday, April 5, 2010 at 9:30 a.m. and on Monday, April 19, 2010 at 7:00 p.m.


PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
MONDAY, MARCH 15, 2010, 7 P.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, N.C.


The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will consider approving a resolution in support of an effort to win designation for the Hickory to Lenoir area of the Highway 321 Corridor as a test site for development by Google of a new ultra high speed broadband internet network; and the acceptance of a grant from the State of North Carolina that will provide municipal water service to the Royal Heights subdivision in western Catawba County, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 15, 2010 at the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton.

The Board will also receive a report on the use of federal Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF) funds to establish a subsidized employment program for persons eligible for TANF funds; and consider applications for a State grant for fiscal year 2010-2011 funding for the Catawba County Criminal Justice Partnership Program and a Federal grant that would pay for 800 MHz radios for the Sheriff’s Office; a resolution authorizing the City of Hickory to issue permits for pyrotechnic events such as fireworks displays in the Hickory City Limits; an ordinance prohibiting solicitation on streets, highways or rights-of-way in unincorporated areas of the county, to protect the safety of motorists and pedestrians; a proposed right-of-way agreement with Duke Energy for an overhead primary power line feed to serve the Biodiesel Research Facility at the Catawba County EcoComplex and facilitate the sale of electricity produced at the EcoComplex to Duke Energy; and two tax refund requests.

CONSENT AGENDA
A. The Board will consider a proposed application for a grant from the State of North Carolina for funding for the Criminal Justice Partnership Program (CJPP). The application is for $122,789, the same amount that is in the current year’s grant. CJPP provides treatment services that address those issues that maintain a criminal lifestyle for offenders. It seeks to decrease criminal involvement and increase productive, socially acceptable behaviors. Through a detailed needs assessment, appropriate referrals, treatment services for substance abuse and cognitive skills, and transportation when needed, the program seeks to combine community-based legal sanctions and non-incarceration punishments with structured services. The grant will provide funds to serve approximately 75 people. Since July 1, 2009, 23 participants have successfully completed the program, and were diverted from jail and have increased their odds against recidivism. Other participants are continuing in the program, while 12 have been incarcerated. The program’s successful completion rate is currently 66%, which far exceeds the statewide average rate of approximately 44%. The average daily cost of a participant in this program is $15, while the approximate cost of local incarceration is $45 and the cost of incarceration in the North Carolina Department of Corrections system is over $80 per day. The CJPP Board approved the grant application prepared by Mental Health Partners, and the Board of Commissioners’ Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the application be approved.

B. The Board will consider acceptance of a $16,403 Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs. There are no matching funds required for this award. It is 100% Federally funded. On June 15, 2009, the Board approved a joint application, with the City of Hickory, for this grant. These funds will be used to purchase 800 MHz radios for the Sheriff’s Office’s Patrol Unit. JAG funding is based on population and violent crime statistics, and allows local governments to support a broad range of activities to prevent and control crime, based on their own needs. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends acceptance of these grant funds.

C. The Board will consider adopting a resolution that would authorize the City of Hickory to issue pyrotechnics permits. Article 54, Chapter 14 of the North Carolina Statutes regulates the sale, manufacture and use, etc. of pyrotechnics. Under N.C. General Statute 14-413, the Board may issue permits for pyrotechnics use in connection with concerts or public exhibitions, such as fairs, carnivals, shows and public celebrations, provided other statutory conditions are met. This same statute provides that a board of county commissioners may authorize the governing body of any city in the county to issue these permits by adopting a resolution. That transfer of authority remains in effect until withdrawn by the board of commissioners by a subsequent resolution withdrawing the authority. On February 8, 2010, the City of Hickory made a request for this authority. The City anticipates that the Fire Prevention Bureau in its Fire Marshal’s Office will review any submitted applications to ensure compliance with various legal requirements, including proof of at least $500,000 of insurance, confirmation that everyone involved in handling the pyrotechnics has completed State-mandated training, and a permit issued by the State Fire Marshal. The Hickory Fire Marshal’s Office would make recommendations to the Hickory City Council, which would make decisions about authorizing permits. The Board of Commissioners’ Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends adoption of this authorizing resolution.

D. The Board will consider authorizing its Chairperson to execute a Right of Way Agreement for the construction, maintenance, and operation of an electrical power line and related conduits, apparatus, and appliances, either above ground or below ground, including transformers and service connections to serve the Biodiesel Research Facility at the County EcoComplex. This agreement is required by Duke Energy to provide electrical service to the facility. The Right of Way would encompass 15 feet on each side of a centerline of the electrical facilities for overhead lines, and 5 feet on each side of a centerline of the electrical facilities. The Right Of Way is also necessary for the County to sell electricity produced at the County EcoComplex to Duke Energy. A bid to construct the Biodiesel Research and White Goods Freon Recovery Facility was awarded on August 17, 2009 and construction is expected to be completed in August 2010. The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends execution of this Right of Way Agreement.

E. The Board will consider two tax refund requests totaling $681.63. Records have been checked and these refunds verified; therefore, the Tax Collector is asking for approval of the refund requests. Under North Carolina General Statute 105-381, a taxpayer who has paid taxes may request a refund in writing for an amount paid through error.

DEPARTMENTAL REPORTS

A. SHERIFF’S OFFICE
The Board will consider adopting an ordinance prohibiting solicitation on streets, highways or rights-of-way in unincorporated areas of the county, to protect the safety of motorists and pedestrians. The Sheriff’s Office has received an increasing number of calls from citizens concerned about individuals soliciting at intersections and from the side of the road. North Carolina General Statute 20-175(d) specifically authorizes local governments to enact ordinances prohibiting a person from soliciting from a roadway. Individuals who solicit from the road put themselves and the public at risk. Solicitation activity is a distraction for drivers, which can result in accidents causing injury to persons and property. This prohibition cannot apply to individuals engaged in the distribution of newspapers on the non-traveled portion of the road, except when those distribution activities impede the normal movement of traffic. This exception is not specified in the proposed ordinance, on the advice of the County Attorney who believes the exception will not stand up to a constitutional challenge. The ordinance will allow law enforcement to more effectively deal with this safety issue and comes to the Board with the recommendation of its Policy and Public Works Subcommittee.

B. TECHNOLOGY
The Board will consider adopting a resolution supporting a partnership between Caldwell County, the City of Lenoir, the City of Hickory and Catawba County that is working to win designation of the Hickory-Lenoir corridor as a test site for development by Google of a new ultra high speed broadband internet network. On February 10, 2010, Google announced it would build a gigabit fiber network in a community in the United States for a subscriber base of 50,000 to 500,000. Google is building this network as a test bed to study new ways of deploying fiber, new construction methods, and new technology. Google officials have said they hope to transform the community selected for the test site by spurring economic development, encouraging new applications, and fostering innovation. Catawba County has partnered with all of the county’s municipalities, the City of Lenoir and Caldwell County to submit a joint proposal for the Google test network. The application process has a very short timeline, as it is due on March 26, 2010.

The high test speed will be a gigabit per second connection, more than 100 times faster than the current average home connection available in the area. The communities are confident that if Hickory/Lenoir is named as a test site for the ultra-fast network, the community would see significant economic growth, as it will open doors and be an attraction for local business to stay and also recruit more industries, creating more opportunity for all citizens and local governments.


County staff believes the application will be uniquely strong for several reasons. The Google datacenter in Lenoir would make it much easier for Google to connect the data network once it is installed. The area is one of only three communities with Google datacenters that meet the population requirement for a test center. Catawba County is home to three world class fiber optic manufacturers, which have all been supportive and active in the application process. The community has distinguished itself as a strong technology supporter with the recent announcement of the Apple datacenter and the previously mentioned Google datacenter. To support the partnership between local municipalities, the City of Lenoir and Caldwell County, each governing body is being asked to pass a resolution of support. The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends adoption of a resolution of support of this application.

C. SOCIAL SERVICES
The Board will receive an informational report on federal and state approval for the establishment in Catawba County of a subsidized employment program for persons who qualify under the criteria of the national Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. These funds are part of $5 billion that federal lawmakers included in last year’s stimulus package to help states offer basic or temporary assistance to families, including subsidized employment.

Twenty-three North Carolina counties, including Catawba, submitted proposals for this optional service and have been authorized to implement subsidized employment programs. To be eligible to participate in this program, a individual must qualify as TANF eligible (with a family income less than 200% of the poverty level, and/or active Work First participation). Social Services staff will make that determination. Social Services was notified on February 9, 2010 that Catawba County’s proposal was approved. The TANF funds for subsidized employment are available until September 30, 2010, or until depleted. The funds will be allocated on a quarterly basis and spending rates will be monitored throughout each quarter. If necessary, a reallocation process will be established to ensure these funds are being fully utilized. Catawba County will receive $90,000 for the first quarter of this grant and two additional quarterly allocations.

The purpose of Catawba County’s proposal is to assist low-income citizens in becoming employed. Families that do not qualify for Work First cash assistance, but which have exhausted or are ineligible for unemployment benefits, may be eligible for TANF Subsidized Employment services if they meet the following criteria: 1) the family must have a dependent child in the home that meets the age, kinship, citizenship and immigrant rules of the Work First Family Assistance Program and 2) family total monthly gross income must be less than 200% of the poverty level, which is $1,805 for a family of 1; $2,428 for a family of 2; $3,052 for a family of 3; $3,675 for a family of 4; $4,298 for a family of 5; $4,922 for a family of 6 and $5,545 for a family of 7. The County will contract with a local temporary employment agency to place TANF-eligible individuals in subsidized employment throughout County departments. The Work First case managers and supervisor will determine eligibility, and the Work First supervisor will support and supervise the contract with the temporary employment agency. No Board of Commissioners action is required for this item.

D. UTILITIES AND ENGINEERING
The Board will consider adopting a resolution pertaining to the policies, procedures and plans to provide municipal water service to the Royal Heights Subdivision in the Advent Crossroads area, including a budget ordinance and budget revision and an administrative contract with the Western Piedmont Council of Governments. On September 21, 2009, the Board approved a resolution to submit an application for a 2010 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Division of Community Assistance. The CDBG Program is designed to enable eligible local governments to install municipal public water and/or sewer line(s) with taps and connections to low to moderate-income households, which are defined as households at 80% or less of the median family income for the county or Metropolitan Statistical Area in which the residence is located.

On January 29, 2010, the County received notification of CDBG funding in the amount of $308,500 to provide municipal water service to the Royal Heights Subdivision off Old Shelby Road in the Advent Crossroads area of western Catawba County. The grant will provide for approximately 2100 linear feet of water lines to serve 22 homes and provide 19 households with free taps and connections. The remaining three households are over the income limits for the grant and will be responsible for the cost of their taps and connections. The City of Hickory has verified adequate water availability and flow. This project will be a revenue sharing project under a contract between the County and the City of Hickory. A Request for Qualifications will be used to select an engineering firm to design the project. The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the adoption of the resolution, budget ordinance and budget revision, and the execution of the administrative contract with the Western Piedmont Council of Governments.

CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 828-465-8464

 

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