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NOVEMBER 18, 2013
AGENDA
Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting
Monday, November 18, 2013, 7:00 p.m.
Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room, 1924 Courthouse
30 North College Ave, Newton

1. Call to Order.

2. Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

3. Invocation.

4. Approval of the minutes from the Board’s Regular Meeting of November 4, 2013.

5. Recognition of Special Guests.

6. Public Comments for Items Not on the Agenda.

7. Presentations:


a. Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Proclamation. Presented to Reverend Bob Silber and Teena Willis, Partners Behavioral Health Management Housing Coordinator.


b. Farm City Week Proclamation. Presented to Kelly Groves, Horticulture, Environment & Natural Resources Agent, Cooperative Extension.


8. Public Hearing:


Rezoning Request – two parcels totaling 5.38 acres from R-30 Residential to General Industrial (GI) District. Presented by Planner Chris Timberlake.

9. Appointments.

10. Consent Agenda:


a. Southeastern Catawba County Water System Local Water Supply Plan.


b. Resolution Approving the 2014 Board of Commissioners Meeting Schedule.

11. Departmental Reports.


a. Emergency Services.


1. Appropriate $62,500 in Existing Fund Balance to Catawba Volunteer Fire Department. Assistant Emergency Services Director Mark Pettit and Donald Robinson, Chief, Catawba Volunteer Fire Department.


2. Public Assistance Declaration and Designation of Primary and Secondary Agents for Public Assistance Program. Emergency Services Director Bryan Blanton.


b. Finance.


Construction of Justice Center/Public Safety Expansion – Alternate Bids. Presented by Finance Director Rodney Miller and Purchasing Manager Debbie Anderson.

c. Utilities and Engineering.


Bunker Hill Covered Bridge Water Service. Presented by Utilities and Engineering Assistant Director Jack Chandler.


d. Cooperative Extension.


Farm and Food Sustainability Plan Progress Report. Presented by Assistant County Manager Mary Furtado and Local Food Agent Kellyn Montgomery.


12. Other Items of Business.

13. Attorneys’ Report.

14. Manager’s Report.

15. 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 828-465-8468 and INFOTALK will direct your questions with easy to understand instructions. Reach Catawba County on the Internet at http://www.catawbacountync.gov.

CALENDAR:
The December Board of Commissioners Meetings will take place on Monday, December 2, 2013 at 9:30 a. m. (following the Annual Breakfast Meeting with NC Cooperative Extension from 8:00-9:00 a.m.) and on Monday, December 15, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.

 

PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2013, 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 request by Catawba Management LLC to rezone two parcels totaling 5.38 acres, located at the end of Keller Street in the St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area Planning District, from R-30 Residential to GI General Industrial district and consider awarding multiple alternate bids for the Justice Center/Public Safety Expansion Project to Hickory Construction Company in the amount of $928,600, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, November 18, 2013, at the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton.


The Board will also consider appropriating existing fund balance of the Catawba Volunteer Fire Department in the amount of $62,500, which would be used to purchase two parcels of property for use as a future fire department substation that would result in improved insurance ratings for 118 currently unrated parcels; and will consider designating Emergency Services Director Bryan Blanton and Emergency Management Coordinator Karyn Yaussy as Primary Agent and Secondary Agent, respectfully, to execute and file applications for Federal and/or State assistance on behalf of Catawba County related to severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides that occurred on July 27, 2013.


The Board will receive an update on the progress of the Farm and Food Sustainability Plan and consider a proposed revenue sharing agreement with the City of Claremont to provide water service to the area of the Bunker Hill Covered Bridge to improve fire service to that historic landmark. It will also consider a proposed Southeastern Catawba County Water System Local Water Supply Plan, which is required by North Carolina General Statutes, and will consider setting a meeting schedule for the Board of Commissioners for 2014. And the Board will issue proclamations declaring November 16-24 as Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week and November 15-23 as Farm City Week.


Note: The Board will also meet for a planning retreat at the CVCC Corporate Development Center beginning at 12 Noon on Monday, November 18th.


PRESENTATIONS
A. The Board will issue a proclamation declaring November 16-24 as National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week to recognize that hunger and homelessness continues to be a serious problem for many individuals and families in Catawba County and encourage support for homeless assistance service providers as well as community service opportunities for students and school service organizations.

B. The Board will issue a proclamation declaring the week of November 15-23 as Farm-City Week to foster cooperation and an exchange of information between two essential segments of our society: farmers and city dwellers. The proclamation will urge citizens to participate in activities and events that have been designed to introduce people from both “worlds” to the lives and work of each other.

PUBLIC HEARING
The Board will hold a public hearing for citizen input and consider an application to rezone two parcels totaling 5.38 acres from R-30 Residential to the General Industrial (GI) district. The properties are located at the end of Keller Street in the St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area Planning District, are currently zoned R-30 Residential and are vacant. There is a sewer pump station located on one of these parcels. Parcels to the north and west are zoned R-30 Residential, one developed with a single-family home and the other vacant. Parcels to the south and east are in the City of Claremont’s planning and zoning jurisdiction, with one zoned M-1 (industrial, manufacturing, and warehousing district), which is the location of Cargo Transporters Inc., office, truck terminal and maintenance facility, and the other zoned R-2 Residential Agriculture and vacant.

The R-30 Residential District is a medium-density district allowing one home per 30,000 square feet (approximately 3/4 acre), with general uses including single family housing and agricultural production. The General Industrial (GI) district provides for intensive manufacturing, processing and assembly uses.

Both parcels at issue are within the WS-IV Watershed Protected Area established to offer protection of surface water from pollutants. The WS-IV Watershed Protected Area allows 36% built upon area if a curb and gutter system is not constructed. Approximately 1.19 acres of one parcel is located within the floodplain. Both properties are located in the Doublewide Manufactured Home-Overlay district which allows for manufactured housing. A public sewer line exists near Mull Creek to the east of one parcel, which also has a sewer pump station. Public water exists along North Oxford Street.

North Oxford Street is designated as a minor thoroughfare in the 2035 Greater Hickory Urban Area Transportation Plan. It extends from US Highway 70 in Claremont to Rock Barn Road. No road improvements are recommended for the road north of I-40. Keller Street is a local residential gravel road. Traffic counts taken in 2011 on North Oxford Street just south of Keller Street measured 4,400. Based on design and construction, the road should handle at least 8,000 cars per day without any loss to traffic service. Development of the property should not overburden the existing roadway.

The St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area Plan serves as the current land use plan for this area. It does not depict either property being located in an area for future industrial use. The two properties are, however, directly adjacent to property zoned M-1 (industrial, manufacturing, and warehousing district) within Claremont’s planning and zoning jurisdiction. Claremont staff indicated their support of the request to rezone the property to an industrial district.

Staff presented a favorable recommendation to the Planning Board based on the request being in harmony with the adjacent industrial land use and the property being in close proximity to I-40.

The Planning Board held a public hearing on October 28, 2013. No one spoke in favor of or in opposition to the request. Dan Barnes spoke on behalf of the applicant, Catawba Management LLC. He indicated there were no immediate plans for the use of the property and that it may provide for future additional parking. The Planning Board voted 7-0 to submit a favorable recommendation to the Board of Commissioners to rezone the two parcels totaling 5.38 acres from R-30 Residential to General Industrial (GI) based on the reasons stated above.

CONSENT AGENDA
A. The Board will consider approval by resolution of a Local Water Supply Plan for the Southeastern Catawba County Water System. North Carolina General Statutes require that each local government that provides public water services shall, either individually or together with other such units of local government, prepare or submit a Local Water Supply Plan. Catawba County contracts with the City of Hickory for operations, maintenance and management for the Southeastern Catawba County Water System. Therefore, Catawba County and the City of Hickory developed a Local Water Supply Plan in accordance with the provisions of the North Carolina General Statutes. Local Water Supply Plans help provide appropriate guidance for the future management of water supplies for local governments that provide public water services. These Local Water Supply Plans also provide useful information to the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources for development of a State water supply plan as required by statute. Once the plan is approved it will be submitted to the Division of Water Resources, as required. The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends approval of this Plan.

B. The Board will consider setting its meeting schedule for 2014. Historically, only one Board meeting is held in the month of January due to the holidays affecting subcommittee schedules. This proposed meeting will be an evening meeting on Tuesday, January 21, 2014, because the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday falls on Monday, January 20, 2014.

March is also a month which historically has only one meeting due to a conflict with the National Association of Counties (NACo) Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. This conference is scheduled for March 1-5, 2014, during which county officials will hear presentations by key national leaders, receive legislative updates, discuss legislative priorities, network with other county officials and exchange information in a national forum. The March meeting is proposed to be an evening meeting on Monday, March 17, 2014.

Budget hearings with departments are proposed for Tuesday, May 27, 2014, with a public hearing and wrap-up on Thursday, May 29, 2014, and budget adoption on Monday, June 2, 2014.

July is a month which historically has only one meeting due to the 4th of July Holiday. The July meeting is proposed to be an evening meeting on Monday, July 21, 2014. It is proposed that the preceding subcommittee meeting be held on July 7, 2014, due to the NACo Annual Conference scheduled for July 11-14, 2014.

The August 18, 2014, meeting falls during the Soldiers Reunion, making an alternate meeting location necessary. It is proposed that the Board’s meeting on August 18, 2014, take place in the Second floor Meeting Room of the Government Center in Newton.

The International City/County Managers Association Annual Conference is scheduled for September 14-17, 2014, and County management staff historically attends this conference. As in the case of the NACo Conference in March, it is proposed there be only one September meeting and it take place on the second Monday of the month, September 8, 2014, at 7:00 p.m., with the accompanying subcommittee meetings on Tuesday, September 2, 2014 (due to the Labor Day holiday on Monday, September 1).

It is proposed that the Board schedule its annual breakfast meeting with the staff of the Cooperative Extension Service at the Agricultural Resource Center on Monday, December 1, 2014, from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m.

The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends these changes to the Board’s 2014 meeting schedule.

DEPARTMENTAL REPORTS

EMERGENCY SERVICES
A. The Board will consider the appropriation of existing fund balance in the amount of $62,500 for the Catawba Volunteer Fire Department. The Catawba Volunteer Fire Department will use the funds to purchase two parcels of property to be used as a future fire department substation. The two parcels are adjacent to one another and located on Hudson Chapel Road in Catawba, NC and have a combined tax value of $105,500. The current property owners, Mr. James Brown, Mr. Ronald Brown, and the living trust of Ms. Berta Woods, have agreed to sell the properties to the fire department for a total of $60,000. An additional $2,500 is requested to pay for surveys, attorney’s fees, and additional expenses associated with the purchase.

Construction of the proposed substation will not begin for approximately five years. However, the property will be used for training and service testing of apparatus starting immediately. The fire department said it does not anticipate the need for a fire district tax increase associated with this project. An analysis conducted by Catawba County Geospatial Information Services reveals the Catawba Rural Fire Protection Service District includes 121 unrated parcels. The addition of the proposed substation will result in all but three of these parcels becoming rated. Property owners impacted by this change are expected to experience a reduction of annual fire insurance premiums. It is estimated that homeowners could see a reduction of as much as $100 annually based on a new wood frame home valued at $100,000 with smoke detectors.

Catawba Volunteer Fire Department owns a 1.28 acre parcel located at 1875 Bolton Road. According to the fire department, the usefulness of this parcel for a fire department substation is limited by two factors. First, a warranty deed filed by the Catawba County Register of Deeds on September 17, 2013, states that, “In the event the grantee [Catawba Volunteer Fire Department] ceases to use the above-described real property for the public purpose of providing fire protection services to the citizens of the Town of Catawba, ownership of the above-described property shall immediately revert to the grantor [Town of Catawba].” Catawba Volunteer Fire Department provides fire protection for the Town of Catawba through a contractual arrangement. The contract expires in 2018. Second, the parcel’s shape and size are such that a two-story substation, which would create operational difficulties when compared to a one-story substation, would be necessary to provide adequate square footage and allow for the ingress and egress of fire apparatus. Furthermore, this parcel does not have access to public water or sewer. It should be noted that the parcels on Hudson Chapel Road currently have access to public sewer and public water within 500 feet of the property.

Historically, each department has its own fund balance which is carried from year to year unless the department makes a request to appropriate it. The fund balance is created through tax revenue collections exceeding the projections established by the County’s Budget Office prior to the fiscal year. The Fire Department can utilize 90% of the existing fund balance to address major projects such as buildings, building additions, truck replacement and other non-recurring needs such as equipment items. Ten percent of each department’s fund balance is held for unforeseen expenditures during the budget year. Catawba Volunteer Fire Department has an available fund balance of $274,397. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends this appropriation of existing fund balance in the amount of $62,500.

B. The Board will consider adopting a resolution designating Primary and Secondary Agents to execute and file applications for Federal and/or State assistance on behalf of Catawba County related to severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides that occurred on July 27, 2013. On October 29, 2013, President Obama declared that a major disaster exists in our region and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by this event. Catawba County and all its eligible municipalities, as well as some non-profit organizations, schools and colleges, have been included in the declaration along with Ashe, Avery, Lincoln, Watauga and Wilkes counties.

This declaration allows federal funding to be available to the State, eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms and flooding. This will support work to repair and rebuild public roads, bridges and utilities damaged during the flooding as well as some other public lands such as parks, government buildings, and damage at schools and colleges. In addition to executing and filing applications, the Primary and Secondary Agents will represent Catawba County in all dealings with the State of North Carolina and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for all matters related to disaster assistance associated with the above named disaster. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends this designation.


FINANCE
The Board will consider awarding multiple alternate bids for the construction of the Justice Center/Public Safety Expansion Project to Hickory Construction Company in the amount of $928,600. In December 2012, the Board authorized County staff to move forward with the expansion of the existing Justice Center.

The Catawba County Justice Center is more than thirty years old. Since its opening, there have been only minor interior renovations and one expansion to the building, the jail expansion in 2005. Courtroom space is no longer adequate to accommodate the growing number of caseloads. A new 911 Communications Center is needed due to inadequate space for equipment, lack of electrical power and limited options for remodeling. The County’s Emergency Operations Center is inadequate when activated for emergency situations. The County was cited by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in September 2006 for inadequate space at the Emergency Operations Center.

The project consists of two wings and a front expansion that will provide an additional 125,650 square feet of fit-out space and 13,550 square feet of shell space for future needs. On October 2, 2013, seven construction bids were received and Hickory Construction was the lowest responsive bidder at $23,634,000 for the base bid, which includes a 4% contingency. Funding for the project consists of revenues from a ¼ cent sales tax approved by voters in 2007. These funds, along with 911 funds, have been accumulating since then to be used towards the project. The balance needed to complete the project will be financed in early 2014 using sales tax revenues to repay the debt over the life of the loan.

The Board approved the base bid on October 21, which includes the completion of two new courtrooms and court support functions, a new 911 Communications Center, a new Emergency Operations Center, expanded Clerk of Court space and offices for Emergency Services, the District Attorney and Community Corrections. In addition to the base bid, there were five preferred alternates and ten alternate bids that were priced separately for additional discussion and consideration: 1) Shaw Carpet – a preliminary finish schedule using Shaw Carpet was developed and approved as the Basis of Design. The existing courtrooms were recently carpeted using Shaw Carpet - $10,100; 2) Trane Equipment and Controls – the existing Justice Center uses Trane equipment and controls – no added cost; 3) Corbin Russwin H2 Locksets Door Hardware –the existing Justice Center uses Corbin Russwin H2 Locksets - $12,600; 4) Tate Access Flooring – the Tate PosiTile System is a patented access flooring product that provides an integrated snap-in carpet tile sized to each access flooring panel - $58,300; and 5) Grace Florprufe Vapor Barrier – this product was selected to increase protection of the concrete floor slab from moisture penetration and protect moisture-sensitive interior floor finishes - $77,500. The total for these preferred alternates is $158,500.

The additional alternates to be considered are: 1) Clerk of Court Expansion; completely finish long-term space - $55,000; 2) an additional large courtroom and support functions on level one - $455,000; 3) additional jury deliberation room on level two - $42,000; 4) enlarged photographic mural of original courthouse in main lobby - $3,200; 5) judicial freestanding furnishings for level two courtrooms plus additional large courtroom on level one - $54,400; 6) view windows between attorney conference rooms and courtrooms on level two - $6,800; 7) bronze handrails at main entrance - $19,300; 8) emergency communication antennae structure on roof - $42,800 and 9) east parking lot at front entrance including landscaping/storm water - $91,600. Total of the recommended alternates is $770,100, with the total amount of additional Preferred Alternates/Alternates recommended to be awarded to Hickory Construction being $928,600.

In addition to the construction bids, there are various utility/maintenance items that staff is planning to include in the project financing: parking lot resurfacing and light pole replacement of campus; extending sewer line and addressing damaged storm water pipe running through existing parking lot; renovate existing courtrooms, hallways – furnishings, millwork, paint, etc.; replace Justice Center/Jail roofs, and upgrading tile to terrazzo flooring.

Finally, with favorable bid amounts that were less than the project budget, the County will be pursuing areas in the building to retrofit and build-out during the project, rather than try to renovate at a later date and face higher costs and further disruption to daily operations. These areas will be completed so carpet, paint and furnishings match, but will be locked/restricted to preserve future expansion as the need for space arises.

The first step of the project will consist of creating a new temporary entrance to the Justice Center beside the existing Sheriff’s Office including ramps, sidewalks, etc. This process is expected to take 2-3 months while the existing front entrance remains operational. After the new temporary entrance is complete, building occupants will enter/exit at the south side of the building near the current ATM and the existing front entrance will be blocked off as the project continues over the next 24 months to completion. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends these alternate bids.

UTILITIES AND ENGINEERING
The Board will consider approval of an inter-local agreement between the City of Claremont and Catawba County in accordance with Catawba County Code, which would improve fire prevention at the Bunker Hill Covered Bridge. The bridge is a valuable historical community asset. Designated as a National Civil Engineering Landmark in 2001, it is the only remaining wooden bridge of its kind. For several years, the County has been working with the Catawba County Historical Association (CCHA), Natural Heritage Trust Fund, Carolina Thread Trail organization and several State offices and agencies to protect and preserve the bridge structure as a critical piece of local history. Over the course of the past year, significant progress was made in assembling the last remaining properties adjacent to the Bridge site, furthering the community goal of protecting the bridge structure from damage and preventing degradation of this historical asset.

A key strategy in preserving the bridge structure hinges on the ability to bring water to the site for the purposes of fire suppression. In pursuing this objective, staff weighed two primary options – installation of an on-site in-ground well, and extension of public water lines from US Highway 70 to the bridge site. Staff commissioned engineering studies to assist with this analysis, which concluded it would not be feasible to construct an on-site well due to low pressure in the groundwater table. Adequate well capacity would also be an issue. For these reasons, staff proposed a capital improvement project to extend existing water lines to the bridge, and $350,000 in funding was approved for this project with the adoption of the County’s FY 2013/14 budget.

Completion of the planned water line extension will serve as a trigger for CCHA to begin drawing down $285,000 in Federal Highway Administration grant funds. These funds, secured in 2010, are committed for the purposes of installing fire suppression sprinklers, graffiti abatement measures and erosion control/mediation around bridge abutments, and installing security cameras to ensure the site is properly protected from vandalism. It would not be possible for CCHA to draw down these funds within the required timeframe without the County’s willingness to invest in water line installation for the bridge site. An ancillary benefit associated with extension of the water lines along US 70 for the bridge project relates to future development potential associated with the area. This project adds capacity to the area in that there are large undeveloped tracts of land near I-40, and the existence of public infrastructure in the area may serve as an incentive for future development.

In order to provide fire protection and water service to the Bunker Hill Covered Bridge Historic Site, an inter-local agreement is required between the City of Claremont and Catawba County. The Claremont City Council approved the agreement at its November 4, 2013, meeting, and agreed to contribute five fire hydrants to be installed by the contractor along the new water line. The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends entering into the inter-local agreement with the City of Claremont.

COOPERATIVE EXTENSION
The Board will receive a progress report on the Farm and Food Sustainability Plan it accepted in April 2013. Catawba County has a strong history built on rich agricultural traditions, as evidenced by the cow symbol on the County’s seal. The County’s settlers came to this area due to an ideal climate and soil conditions which allowed them to raise crops to sustain their families. Today, agriculture in Catawba County generates $52 million in direct economic impact, and the indirect economic impacts are even greater. To support this segment of the local economy with significant future growth potential, the County developed a Farm and Food Sustainability Plan to build upon existing agricultural traditions by identifying ways to enhance agriculture and promote local foods.

The Farm & Food Sustainability Plan (FFSP), created by a working committee of community-based representatives and accepted by the Board on April 15, 2013, has several major objectives: to sustain agricultural land in Catawba County with a focus on agricultural economic development and agri-tourism; recruit younger farmers into the agriculture-related industries and provide existing farmers with tools for farm transitioning, and ensure local food sustainability by developing and marketing a robust “Farm-to-Fork” initiative, whereby local food producers link up with local food distributors and restaurants to ensure the availability of fresh locally-produced food in Catawba County.

The FFSP identifies fifteen strategies and 66 supporting action items that will further the objectives of the plan. Each of these action items was assigned to a lead agency responsible for ensuring its implementation, and some of the action items were assigned supporting agencies to assist the lead agency in implementation. Upon acceptance of the plan from the committee, the Board established a goal for Fiscal Year 2013/2014 of “reviewing the committee’s recommendations and working to implement strategies consistent with the County’s area of responsibilities.” The report provides a status update on the progress of the County’s implementation efforts to date in pursuit of that goal, focusing on the action items for which the County is primarily responsible for leading implementation.

In addition to working specifically on the action items assigned to the County through the FFSP, staff has developed a work plan for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2013/14 that identifies other actions to further support the development of a thriving local food economy in Catawba County. Highlights of these other planned activities include: Develop initial outreach lists (to be expanded & maintained over time) with contact information for producers/potential producers, restaurant owners / managers, interested citizens, ‘institutional representatives,’ etc. (Initial work completed; updates on-going);Develop recommendation for a working definition of what constitutes “local.”(November);Work with Future Farmers of America and 4-H Youth Development staff to develop/select gardening curriculum for use with students (November - December); Coordinate logistics for a Farm School for Spring 2014 (December- January);In collaboration with the Immigrant Agriculture Coordinator, plan and implement “winter months/cold season” educational event (to cover season expansion techniques) and further refine “Grower’s School” curriculum (November - December);Host gardening classes and demonstration events for different levels and in different seasons, incorporating both organic and conventional techniques (ongoing); Organize & coordinate tour of MDI / IFH facility for potential producers to begin understanding requirements for working with large-scale distributors (November-December);Develop quarterly newsletter / integrate content into existing newsletters on issues related to local foods awareness (November-December);Establish shared farm equipment program to assist small acreage producers by minimizing the investment required to enter the business. This could include bedder /plastic /irrigation-laying implement that could be rented out by users for a fee similar to the no-till drill owned by the Farm Bureau and rented to landowners (December - January);Work with a minimum of five producers to plan for alternative crop development for spring growing season (December – January); Plan & implement newspaper articles / features of local foods issues on minimum of quarterly basis (January - February);Work with Master Gardeners to facilitate the development of garden plots in areas throughout the county (January -February);Research formation of local food policy board (with mission of providing connections between food, health, economic development and the agricultural community) and make recommendation to management regarding potential formation (January- February) Develop cooking program that addresses identified gaps in consumers’ knowledge of cooking with fresh local foods. (February – March);Work with FFA teachers and science teachers to evaluate potential of adding gardens / greenhouses / tunnels to existing school sites (February – March);Receive safety training for plastic-bedding machine and learn to lay plastic for weed control (March);Using produce from Eco-complex gardens, host variety tastings at farmers’ markets (April - May); Connect with farmers of existing demonstration gardens and organize on-farm demonstration events (April - July); Collaborate with “Taste of Hickory” for local food event (in partnership with ICMA Fellow) (May-June), and Coordinate expansion of industry – farm tours partnership with the Chamber of Commerce (May – June).

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