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JUNE 15, 2015
AGENDA
Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting
Monday, June 15, 2015, 7 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 Board’s Budget Hearings with Departments and Outside Agendas of May 26, 2015, the Board’s Budget Public Hearing and Wrap-Up of May 28, 2015 and the Regular Meeting of June 1, 2015

5. Recognition of Special Guests

6. Public Comment for Items Not on the Agenda

7. Public Hearing:


Community Development Block Grant Application for Commerce Fellows Professional Development Program. Presented by Megan Dale, ICMA Fellow, Catawba County Manager’s Office.



8. Appointments.

9. Departmental Reports:


Library:


Adoption of the Catawba County Library Strategic Plan, 2016-2019 and Request for Funding for one Digital Services Librarian Position. Presented by Library Director Suzanne White.

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 828-465-8990 within a reasonable time prior to the meeting. 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: There is only one Board of Commissioners in July. This meeting will take place on Monday, July 20, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. in the 1924 Courthouse in Newton.

PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
MONDAY, JUNE 15, 2015, 7 P.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, N.C.

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing on a proposed Community Development Block Grant 2015-2016 Commerce Fellows Program Application, which would request $25,000 to be used to engage in high-quality professional development and training, with an emphasis on community development and improving opportunities for low and moderate income individuals, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 15, 2015, at the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton.

The Board will also hear a report on a proposed Catawba County Library Strategic Plan 2016-2019, prepared following extensive study and public input via focus groups and community meetings and recommended for approval by the Library Board of Trustees. This includes a request to fund a new Digital Services Librarian position, the top priority of the plan.

PUBLIC HEARING
The Board will hold a public hearing to receive citizen comments and consider the submission of a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) application to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Rural Economic Development Division, for the Commerce Fellows “Building Community Through Capacity and Knowledge” program.

The purpose of the Commerce Fellows program is to provide technical assistance, capacity building and training to North Carolina local governments. The State is partnering with North Carolina universities to provide high-quality professional development to local government staff with a focus on community development and improving opportunities for low and moderate income individuals.

The County plans to apply for the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill School of Government training program. The School of Government will allow the County to send multiple employees to in-person courses, provide access to four online training series and authorize the County to also send municipal staff to the courses to increase community-wide benefit. Five County employees, the City Manager of Claremont, and the City of Newton’s Planning Director will benefit from attending in-person courses. Numerous other staff will benefit from attending online courses. A total of $25,000 will be requested for course tuition, lodging and travel expenses for program participants. The grant requires no local match. Staff will work with the Western Piedmont Council of Governments to meet all grant reporting requirements.

DEPARTMENTAL REPORTS


LIBRARY

The Board will consider adopting a proposed Catawba County Library Strategic Plan 2016-2019 to enhance and grow library services and programming in alignment with community needs, and the funding of one Digital Services Librarian position at a total cost of $66,728, in order to proceed with the top priority of the proposed Strategic Plan.

The State Library of North Carolina awarded a grant of $20,352 to the Catawba County Library in 2014 to contract with a planning consultant (Dr. Anthony Chow of Strategic Performance Systems) to develop a long-range strategic plan. Catawba County Library assessed current services and solicited community input to strategically identify priority goals for increasing alignment with citizens needs. Through the process, the Library convened a citizen-based steering committee and conducted a comprehensive community needs analysis over a ten-month period from July 2014 to April 2015, which garnered input from over 1500 residents through interviews with key stakeholders, public and staff surveys, targeted focus groups and public community forums. This feedback culminated in the creation of a strategic plan that focuses on three main priorities and has been endorsed by the Library Board of Trustees, which recommends approval of the plan to the Board of Commissioners.

The Library also collaborated with Hickory Public Libraries, which was simultaneously going through the same process using the same planning consultant, in gathering, sharing, and analyzing input to develop and prioritize goals and objectives, and will continue to collaborate in providing services in the future.

Driven by the results of the comprehensive community needs assessment, the Library will focus its efforts on the following strategic goals:

• As a Community Center of Excellence, Fuel Citizens’ Passion for Reading, Personal Growth and Learning
• Innovate to Provide 21st Century Access that Empowers Citizens
• Library Anytime, Anywhere: Expand Citizens’ Access to Information and Ideas

With increased reliance on libraries during times of economic downturn, the plan focuses on enhancing the County libraries’ role in serving as community centers, increasing libraries’ capacity to provide the technology, digital resources and personnel to bridge the digital divide for citizens, and increasing outreach and collaboration in the community to engage and empower citizens with resources, services and collections.

The committee developed specific supporting strategies for each of the goals. Several strategies are contingent on funding availability and, as a result, have been prioritized against one another in order of importance. The Library has already begun leveraging resources and making progress towards some of these strategies.

1. Fund Digital Services Librarian to drive implementation of digital strategy for expanded access through 24-hour availability of digital learning resources and a more intuitive, user-friendly website, and oversee the provision of state of the art technology and technology programming to ensure access across the entire community.


2. Ensure availability of up-to-date computers and software within branches to facilitate bridging the digital divide and positioning the branches as community centers of excellence.


3. Creation of TechConnect spaces to expose citizens to state-of-the-art technologies while ensuring underserved populations have access.


4. Fund Literacy Outreach Specialist to lead in early literacy efforts to ensure children start school ready to learn and positioned to excel; partner with community to expand reach of early literacy opportunities for all preschool children and their caregivers; enhance and support active learning for children by collaborating closely with schools to implement services and programs that strengthen students’ access to reading and learning resources; and provide after school programming to meet families’ opportunities for access.


5. Fund Adult Outreach / Programming Librarian to bring library resources to where people are, including non-traditional locations and targeting underserved audiences.


6. Explore provision of materials and services to satellite spaces – “Redbox” model at laundromats, soup kitchens, courthouse, YMCAs, community centers, malls, other public spaces.


7. Fund Teen Librarian to increase teen engagement with highly interactive creative programs, spaces, and resources.


8. Develop and maintain relevant and inspiring collections that meet the community’s evolving needs and expectations, ensuring equal access to underserved populations.


9. Create welcoming, vibrant, comfortable, and secure library spaces to position branches as a desirable place for citizens to spend time.


10. Ensure robust library resources that support job seekers and economic advancement to align the library’s programs with local economic recovery efforts.


11. Evaluate expansion of library hours to increase convenience and access for citizens to include possible addition of evening and weekend hours.

Even with a focus on leveraging outside funding, several critical initiatives are not eligible for funding through existing grants, as they require ongoing operational and personnel resources not sustainably funded through grants. As a result, the Library requests that the Board consider funding the top priority – a Digital Services Librarian position – to implement the top priority identified through the community needs assessment at an estimated cost of $66,728. The Digital Services Librarian will help create a better informed citizenry able to seek and evaluate information online for e-government, health, education, and job seeking; improve career readiness skills of the community; improve quality of life for individuals as they are able to connect to friends and family using library technology; strengthen partnerships with organizations including NCWorks and the Manufacturing Solutions Center to provide relevant programming to an expanded audience; promote a culture of lifelong learning where it’s common practice for individuals to take advantage of the many technology classes and programs at the library; and other needs.

The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the approval of this Strategic Plan and the funding for one Digital Services Librarian position.

CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 465-8464