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January 17, 2006

AGENDA 

Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting 
Tuesday, January 17, 2006, 7 p.m. 

Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room, 1924 Courthouse 
30 North College Avenue, Newton, NC 28658
 
1.    Call to Order.

2.    Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

3.    Invocation.

4.    Approval of Minutes from the Regular and Closed Session meetings of December 19, 2005.

5.    Recognition of Special Guests.

6.    Public Comment for items not on the agenda.

7.    Presentations:
a. North Carolina Center for Engineering Technologies.  Presented by Bob Shaffer, Future Forward and Kathy Pittman, Continental Tevis.

b. AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination). Presented by Janie Sigmon, Associate Superintendent, Newton-Conover Schools and Jonell Ward, AIG Coordinator, Catawba County Schools.
8.    Appointments.

9.    Consent Agenda:
a.    Request for supplemental appropriation to complete Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Grant Project.

b.    Supplemental Appropriation for Developing a 21st Century Library Image for Catawba County Library System (LSTA Grant).

c.    Supplemental Appropriation for Planning (LSTA Grant).

d.    Sale of Landfill Equipment by Electronic Public Auction.

e.    Tax Refund Request

f.    Change in subcommittee meeting date
10.    Departmental Reports.
a.  Public Health:
School Health Nurse Expansion.  Presented by Doug Urland, Public Health Director.
b.   Schools:
1.    Authorization to proceed with bids for new Catawba Elementary School.  Presented by Dr. Tim Markley, Superintendent,  Catawba County Schools.
2.  North Carolina Public School Facility Needs Surveys.  Presented by Dr. Tim Markley, Superintendent, Catawba County Schools and Dr. Barry Redmond, Newton-Conover Schools
11.        Other items of business.
Resolution in support of naming I-40 Bridge for Gray Cockerham, III.
12.    Attorneys’ Report.
   
13.    Manager’s Report.

14.    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 February Board of Commissioners Meetings will take place on Monday, February 6, 2006 at 9:30 a.m. and on Monday, February 20, 2006 at 7:00 p.m.

PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
TUESDAY, JANUARY 17, 2006, 7 P.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, N.C.

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will consider a $200,000 appropriation to assist in funding a proposed new North Carolina Center for Engineering Technologies, to be located in Hickory and to provide workforce development and specialized technical training in engineering and related fields; accept a grant that will fund eight school nurses for the Catawba County and Newton-Conover City Schools, three more than originally anticipated; and authorize the Catawba County Board of Education to proceed with bids for construction of a new Catawba Elementary School, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, January  17, 2006, at the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room on the second floor of the 1924 Courthouse in Newton.  NOTE THE CHANGE FROM THE BOARD'S NORMAL MEETING DAY, BECAUSE COUNTY OFFICES ARE CLOSED ON THE THIRD MONDAY IN JANUARY FOR THE MARTIN LUTHER  KING BIRTHDAY HOLIDAY. 

The Board will also receive Public School Facility Needs Surveys from the Catawba County and Newton-Conover City Schools, which school systems are required by State law to complete; a supplemental appropriation needed to complete an expansion at Riverbend Park largely funded by a North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant; acceptance of two grants to assist the County Library system to develop marketing and long-range planning efforts; the sale of used landfill equipment by electronic public auction; a tax refund request; and a change in the date for the next meetings of the Board's subcommittees from Monday, January 30, 2006 to Friday, January 27, 2006.  The Board will also hear a presentation on the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program, an in-school academic support program for grades 5-12 that prepares students for college eligibility and success; and act on a resolution in support of naming a bridge on I-40 over the Catawba River in memory of Corporal Gray Cockerham III of Conover, who was killed in action while serving with the US Marine Corps in Iraq.  

PRESENTATIONS
A.  The Board will hear a presentation on a proposed North Carolina Center for Engineering Technologies from Bob Shafer of the Future Forward Economic Alliance and Kathy Pittman of Continental Tevis.  The Board will consider approving a $200,000 grant from the County to help launch the center, which will be located at a facility at 1928 Main Avenue in Hickory, to be purchased from Corning Cable Systems. The center will provide workforce development and specialized technical training in engineering and related fields. The purchase of the facility is a cooperative financial venture between the public and the private sectors.  $1 million in Federal funding has been announced for the project and other county and municipal governments across the region are considering similar requests from Future Forward.  Several years ago, at the urging of Commissioner Lynn Lail, the Board set aside a fund for future economic growth.  Staff recommends the $200,000 County commitment to this project be funded from the same fund, which will exhaust this account.  The Board's Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board authorize its chairperson to sign an agreement between Catawba County and the Future Forward Economic Alliance, and approve a budget revision appropriating $200,000 towards the purchase of the property.

B.  The Board will hear a presentation from Newton-Conover City Schools Associate Superintendent Janie Sigmon and Catawba County Schools Academically/Intellectually Gifted Program Coordinator, Jonell Ward, on the Advancement via Individual Determination or AVID Program.  According to avidonline.org, AVID is an "in-school academic support program for grades 5-12 that prepares students for college eligibility and success.  It seeks to place academically average students in advanced classes and level the playing field for minority, rural, low-income and other students without a college-going tradition in their families.  It is provided for all students, but targets those in the academic middle."


CONSENT AGENDA
A.  The Board will consider a request for a supplemental appropriation in the amount of $35,000 from the Parks/Historic Preservation Trust Fund within the County budget for the completion of the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) Grant project at Riverbend Park.  On October 4, 2004, the Board accepted a grant from PARTF for a $250,000 improvement project at Riverbend Park ($125,000 funded by PARTF and $125,000 by a local match). The project includes a 1500 square foot educational building, a 20 by 40 foot open shelter near the Catawba River, a two-acre fenced dog park, a maintenance and storage building and additional parking for over 20 cars.  The project is now virtually complete but, because of higher than anticipated construction costs, completion of the project will require an additional $35,000.   No additional PARTF funds are available.  County staff has economized as much as possible, bringing internal resources to the project to limit the shortfall. For example, Utilities and Engineering staff saved an estimated $15,000 by grading and preparing the dogpark and maintenance building areas themselves.  

The cost overage is due largely to three reasons beyond the County's ability to control or predict: 1) changes in the State's building codes that occurred after the original grant application was finalized required staff to install restrooms in the educational building that were not included in the original plans;  2) construction materials and costs have dramatically increased; and 3) soil tests indicated a bad soil layer at the construction site that had to be removed before construction.  This was the only location available for the structure because of the site’s relationship to existing structures and parking.  The project will result in $285,000 worth of real property improvements to Riverbend Park at a cost to the County of $160,000.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the appropriation of $35,000 from the County's Parks/Historic Preservation Trust Fund to complete the project.  The County expects to recoup this amount from the sale of timber cleared at Riverbend Park, approved by the Board on December 5, 2005.

B.  The Board will consider accepting grant funds in the amount of $18,906 to strengthen the image and message of the County Library system.  County Library staff applied for and received a grant from the State Library of North Carolina, through the Library Services and Technology Act, for the purpose of marketing the library to the community. The grant requires a local match of $2125 that will be absorbed in the Library budget for the current fiscal year.  The Catawba County Library System has the resources and staff to be a vital component of the education process in Catawba County.  Due to the rapid loss of manufacturing jobs, large numbers of county residents are unemployed, underemployed or are retraining for jobs in a new economy.  The Library system will strengthen its image and message, to better promote itself as a resource to help citizens improve their lives.  Community leaders will be identified as role models to promote library use by registering for library cards and posing for READ posters.  The new message will be publicized aggressively throughout the county, in part through brochures and posters.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the acceptance and appropriation of the grant funds in the amount of $18,906.

C.  The Board will consider accepting grant funds in the amount of $15,000 to conduct a community planning process for library programs and services in response to changes and challenges that have impacted the county.  County Library staff applied for and received a grant from the State Library of North Carolina, through the Library Services and Technology Act.  The County Library System will use the grant funds to conduct a strategic planning process for programs and services, in response to multiple changes and challenges that have impacted the county and the public library since the year 2000. The result will be an innovative and dynamic plan that has been carefully shaped by critical local issues and developed by key players with a stake in its success.  Citizen input will assure that the plan is relevant, and staff input will insure that it is achievable.  A process for monitoring and evaluating the progress of the plan will be developed, so actions and accountability are built into the process from the beginning to insure a successful outcome.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends acceptance and appropriation of the grant funds in the amount of $15,000.

D.  The Board will consider declaring a 1999 Aljon 91K Compactor and 1998 Caterpillar D5M XL Crawler Dozer as surplus and authorizing the sale of both of these pieces of landfill equipment by electronic public auction.   The compactor and dozer were recently replaced with new equipment and are no longer needed for landfill operation.  The compactor has an estimated value of $50,000; while the crawler-dozer has an estimated value of $35,000 to $50,000.  Net proceeds from this sale will return to the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund.  North Carolina General Statute 160A-270 allows public agencies to conduct electronic auctions for the sale of real or personal property.  An advertisement is required that describes the property to be sold and the electronic address where information to participate in the bidding process may be found.  Catawba County has been using GovDeals.com's electronic auction service to sell items since August 2003. Landfill equipment is a popular item listed on GovDeals.com by governmental entities across the United States.  GovDeals.com will assist in printing flyers and contacting previous bidders for similar equipment.   The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board adopt a resolution declaring the equipment as surplus and authorizing its sale by electronic auction.

E.  The Board will consider a tax refund request totaling $21,570.49.  This amount represents an adjustment in the tax values for American Medical International for 2003 and 2004, following an appeal to the North Carolina Property Tax Commission.  Records have been checked and this refund verified, so the Tax Collector recommends approval.  Under N.C. General Statute 105-381, a taxpayer who has paid his or her taxes may request a refund in writing for an amount paid through error.

F.  The Board will consider a proposed change in the date for the next meetings of the Board's two subcommittees.  If the change is approved, those subcommittees will meet beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, January 27, 2006 rather than at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, January 30, 2006.

DEPARTMENTAL REPORTS

PUBLIC HEALTH

The Board will consider an increase in the Health Department's budget, by $61,330, to add funds provided by the Duke Endowment for the establishment of eight additional school nurse positions to serve the Newton Conover City and Catawba County Schools, three more than anticipated when this expansion of the school nurse program was first announced in August 2005.  Every day, 23,822 children attend public school in Catawba County.  For children to succeed in school, they must be able to learn.  An increasing number of children are identified with health issues that adversely affect their ability to excel in school.

In recognition of the increasing health needs of school age children and the links between health and academic success, Catawba Valley Medical Center partnered with the Health Department to provide funding for five additional school nurse positions which were filled in December 2005.  Now the Duke Endowment grant will fund three additional school nurse positions.  In its September 2004 report, the FORESIGHT Committee suggested the addition of four public health nurses to decrease the school nurse to student ratio to fewer than 1 to 2000 students.  This served as a catalyst for the partnership with Catawba Valley Medical Center to meet the strategy of decreasing the school nurse to student ratio.  The School Health program grew from five to nine nurses from 2001 through 2005, allowing more targeted services to middle and high schools over the last two years, but there were still not enough school nurses to adequately address the health needs of all students in Catawba County (a nurse to student ratio of 1 to 2382) or to meet the nationally recommended school nurse to student ratio of 1 to 750. Funding eight additional nurses will reduce the school nurse to student ratio in Catawba County to 1 to 1035.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the increase in the Health Department budget to establish a total of eight new school nurse positions to serve the Newton-Conover City and Catawba County School districts.  The Hickory Public Schools are not included in this expansion because that system received additional school nurse positions through an earlier State grant.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS
1.  The Board will consider authorizing the Catawba County Board of Education to proceed with bids for a new Catawba Elementary School, designing in as much bid flexibility as possible.   The Catawba County Board of Education has identified an immediate need to construct a new Catawba Elementary School, which was anticipated to be funded through Certificates of Participation (COPS) funding. The Board of Education has also identified a classroom addition at Bunker Hill High School to be of high priority. The Board of Education would like to have both projects funded. However, if only one can be financed, the Board of Education's priority is a new Catawba Elementary School.  $9.2 million was projected as the cost of the new school four years ago, and is available from anticipated installment purchase financing for a new elementary school. The Board of Education has available up to an additional $570,000 from unspent capital projects and other available funds.  The Board of Education is prepared to issue a request for bids, with bids anticipated to be returned by the end of February.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board authorize the County Board of Education to proceed with bids for a new Catawba Elementary School, designing in as much bid flexibility as is reasonable. In the interim, County staff will look at options to finance an anticipated need for additional funds, including the impact of higher COPS financing and making the additional funding a priority in the Fiscal Year 2007 budget request from the Board of Education.

2.  The Board will receive presentations from the Catawba County and Newton-Conover School systems on their respective long range facility needs.  Public school systems are required to submit, to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, long range capital facility plans. The Catawba County and Newton-Conover Boards of Education have reviewed facility plans and will present their plans to the Board of Commissioners at this meeting. The Hickory City Board of Education is expected to present its plan at the Commissioners' first meeting in February.  The plans list facility needs of each system, and indicate how each board of education ranks a particular project from highest to lesser priority.  The Board of Commissioners is required to review these plan before they are submitted to the State, but there is no requirement that the Board of Commissioners approve the plan or agree to finance the plan.  Staff recommends the Board receive a presentation from the Catawba County and Newton-Conover School Systems on their long range plans and review the plans before submission to the State.

OTHER ITEMS OF BUSINESS
The Board will consider adopting a resolution in support of the naming of the bridge on Interstate 40 over the Catawba River in honor and memory of United States Marine Corps Corporal Benny “Gray” Cockerham III. A St. Stephens High School graduate, Corporal Cockerham was an outstanding Marine who was serving his second tour of duty in Iraq when he was killed by a roadside bomb on October 21, 2005.  During his service in the Marine Corps, he received two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, a Combat Action Ribbon, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Expeditionary Medal and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.  As Corporal Cockerham lived the majority of his life in Catawba County and considered Hickory his home, the Board will act on a resolution requesting that the bridge over the Catawba River, located on Interstate 40 at the Catawba County-Iredell County line, be named in his honor and memory, as a fitting way of welcoming people to the county he considered his home. 

CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER    465-8464