Catawba County Home Site Index Departments Board of Commissioners Links
January 18, 2005


Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting 
Tuesday, January 18, 2005, 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 Regular and Closed Sessions of Monday, December 20, 2004 and Special Meeting with Boards of Education of Tuesday, January 4, 2005.

5.    Recognition of Special Guests.

6.    Public Comment for items not on the agenda.

7.    Presentations:

a.    Presentation by John McNeely of Charter Communications regarding proposed rate increases.

a.    Proposed amendment to Mountain View Small Area Plan – Map 6 MVSAP future landuse recommendations.
b.    Rezoning request by Foothills Trucking
9.    Consent agenda.
a.   Supplemental Appropriation of County Funds – NC Hazard Mitigation Generator  Project Grant.
b.   Personnel Code Revision/Support for Education Policy Revision
c.   Agreement with Newton-Conover  Board of Education for the Purchase of Property for Bus Parking Lot and Restructuring of Traffic Flow to Thornburg Drive.
d.   Adoption of the Register of Deeds Records Retention and Disposition Schedule and Subsequent Amendment.
e.  2005 Meeting Schedule.
10.    Department Reports.
a.    Jail:
1.  Update on Catawba County Detention Facility Expansion Project.  Presenter John Hardy, Project Manager.   
2.    Jail Expansion Project – Preferred Alternates.  Presenters John Hardy, Mental Health Director/
Project Manager and Debbie Anderson, Purchasing Agent.

b.    Public Health:
1.    Establishment of a non-profit Dental Foundation.  Presenter Doug Urland, Public Health Director.
2.    Establishment of Catawba County Health Partners as a non-profit corporation.  Presenter Doug Urland, Public Health Director.
c.  Budget:
1.  Catawba County Schools’ Request for Capital Funds.  Presenters Dr. Ann Y. Hart, Superintendent, Catawba County Schools and Judy Ikerd, Budget Manager.
d.    GIS:
1.  Joint Orthophotograph Project with Surrounding Counties.  Presenter Michell Deese, GIS Coordinator.
e.  County Manager’s Office:
1.  New Noise Ordinance.  Presenters Debra N. Bechtel and Sheriff L. David Huffman
11.    Attorneys’ Report.

12.    Manager’s Report.

13.    Other items of business.

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.

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

Meetings in February 2005 will be Monday, February 7, 2005 at 9:30 a.m. and Monday, February 21, 2005 at 7:00 p.m.  Due to the NaCO Conference scheduled for March 4-7, 2005, there will be only one Board of Commissioners meeting in March which will take place on Monday, March 21, 2005 at 7:00 p.m.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2005, 7 P.M.

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will consider rescinding the County's current noise ordinance and replacing it with a new ordinance designed to cover scenarios and provide specific language to allow sheriff's officers to better address citizen concerns about disturbing noises while protecting freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution; receive an update on progress on an expansion of the County Jail facility to alleviate overcrowded conditions; and consider Catawba County's participation, with other area counties, in a project to update the aerial photography used in the County's Geographic Information System, at a reduced cost when compared with the last aerial flyover in 2002, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, January 18, 2005, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room 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 hear a presentation from officials with Charter Communications on an upcoming cable television rate increase which, under Federal law, must be approved by the Federal Communications Commission and the Board of Commissioners cannot regulate; additions to the Board's 2005 meeting schedule to include work sessions on recommendations of the FORESIGHT long-range planning committee and joint meetings with the councils of all municipalities in the county; consider a request for capital funds from the Catawba County Board of Education for purchase of land adjacent to Bandys High School for the school's animal science program; an agreement between the County and Newton-Conover Board of Education for the purchase of property for a bus parking lot and restructuring of traffic flow on Thornburg Drive; the designation of John Hardy, Project Manager for the jail expansion project, as the County's authority to conduct an open meeting on preferred alternates for the project; a request by the Catawba County Board of Health to establish a non-profit Dental Foundation to oversee a capital campaign and secure revenue sources needed to insure goals related to the delivery of dental services to the youth of the Catawba Valley area, and the establishment of Catawba County Health Partners as a non-profit corporation to acquire and leverage funds to improve the health and well being of Catawba County residents; the appropriation of funds for the purchase of new standby generators for three EMS bases, with those funds to be reimbursed from a State grant; amendments to the County's Personnel Code to make the County's longevity pay plan more equitable and refine the County's policy in support of staff continuing education, and their voluntary involvement in schools; and the adoption of a Records Retention and Disposition Schedule for the Register of Deeds Office.  The agenda will list two public hearings, legally advertised for this meeting, related to a request of Foothills Trucking to rezone a tract on Robinwood Road, but the request has been withdrawn by the applicant.

Mr. John McNeeley of Charter Communications will make a presentation to the Board regarding recent improvements in the company's service and a cable television rate increase which the company has proposed to the Federal Communication Commission which, by Federal law, must approve the increase.  The Board of Commissioners does not have regulatory control over cable TV rates.

The agenda for this meeting will list two public hearings, legally advertised for the meeting, on a request from Foothills Trucking to rezone three contiguous parcels of land on Robinwood Road, totaling 25 acres, from R-2 Residential District to Planned Development Industrial Park District, and a proposed amendment to the Mountain View Small Area Plan that would have reflected that rezoning.  The applicant has withdrawn the rezoning request. 

A.  The Board will consider appropriating funds to implement a North Carolina Hazard Mitigation Generator Project Grant Agreement, which requires upfront funding by the County for the purchase of backup generators. The funds will be fully reimbursed through the State grant.  After a severe winter storm in 2002, Catawba County requested State Hazardous Mitigation Funds to outfit all six EMS bases in the county with standby generators.  These funds were initially delayed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency due to budget constraints.  The County applied again for the funds following a winter storm in 2003.  Previously, the Hickory, Newton and St. Stephens EMS bases were approved for standby generators.  These funds will provide standby generators at the Catawba, Propst Crossroads and Sherrills Ford EMS bases.   The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the appropriation of $68,938 which will be reimbursed through the State grant.

B.  The Board will consider revisions to the County Personnel Code, as follows: 1) Section 28-208 of the code provides for longevity pay to County employees, to recognize the importance to the County and its citizens of experienced staff who perform their jobs well over many years.  The County's current longevity plan, adopted in the early 1970s, is based on a percentage of salary, and begins after five years of County service.  Many local governments have moved to a lump sum longevity system to be more equitable.  A flat rate rewards each employee who has the same number of years of service with the same amount, regardless of salary.  The proposed changes in the plan, which would be effective February 1, 2005, would provide for flat rate longevity pay annually after five years of service, increasing incrementally as an employee reaches ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty five and thirty years of County service, and capped at $2000 annually for those with thirty years of service. 

All employees who began work with the County on or before January 31, 2005 would be grandfathered under the existing plan. 2)  Section 28-209 of the Personnel Code encourages employees to continue their education, and provides some tuition reimbursement for those seeking higher education in a field or course of study that supports their career with the County or maintains certification or licensure.  The code currently states that, if an employee fails to maintain a C average, the employee is required to bear all costs and reimburse the County for any money paid.  The proposed change would require employees to maintain a B grade average.  The County seeks and encourages excellence in service to citizens.  Staff feels, when County funds are used to support the program, the County should require a higher grade.  3)  Catawba County has been a leader among governmental agencies in supporting involvement by employees in schools, through a policy that allows an employee to use up to four hours of vacation, or accrued compensatory time leave, to volunteer in schools and receive four hours time matched by the County.  Recommended additions to the policy address cases where employees are assigned to schools as part of their job and payroll issues, and distinguish between the County’s encouragement of parental involvement in their children's education and a NC General Statute requiring an employer to allow up to four hours leave per school year for each school age child.  Tutoring would be added to the policy, while all reference to substitute teaching would be eliminated, since County employees would be paid for substitute teaching. The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the proposed revisions.

C.  The Board will consider an agreement between the Newton-Conover Board of Education and Catawba County on the purchase of a 4.358 acre tract of land for development of a bus parking lot and restructuring traffic flow to Thornburg Drive.  The total cost of $84,000 will be funded over a two year period.  The Newton-Conover Board of Education will design and construct a bus parking lot which efficiently uses the property and preserve any portion that may be practical for sale, with any funds resulting from such a sale applied to the cost of the school project.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the agreement.

D.   The Board will consider adopting the Register of Deeds Office Records Retention and Disposition Schedule
of August 15, 2003, and a subsequent amendment to the schedule.  The schedule and subsequent amendment were inadvertently not signed at the time of distribution.  This schedule of the NC Division of Archives and History addresses the retention and destruction of records held and maintained by the Register of Deeds.  The Board of Commissioners is the ultimate custodian of these records, under Chapters 121 and 132 of the NC General Statutes. The Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends adoption of the schedule and subsequent amendment.

E.  The Board will consider a revision to its 2005 meeting schedule to add special meetings to discuss the four issues studied by the FORESIGHT long-range planning committee and a series of joint meetings with all city and town councils in the county.  The first meeting on a FORESIGHT issue, focusing on education, was held with the three county boards of education on January 4.   Other meetings to be added include: Monday, February 7, 8:00-9:00 a.m. on leadership and political action, a discussion of State boards and committees and the State's process to make appointments; Monday, March 21, 2:00-5:00 p.m., on the environment, a  discussion of ozone and particulate matter pollution, FERC re-licensing, and erosion control implementation; Monday, April 18, 2:00-5:00 p.m., on jobs and business creation, a discussion of a most favored industry policy; higher education and CVCC; and transportation infrastructure; Monday, June 20, 4:30-6:30 p.m., a joint meeting with the Newton, Conover and Maiden Councils at the Government Center in Newton, followed by a brief dinner and the Board’s regular June meeting; Monday, August 15, 4:30-6:00 p.m., a joint meeting with the Claremont and Catawba Councils at Claremont Town Hall, to be followed by the Board’s mid-month meeting; and Monday, September 19, 4:00-6:00 p.m. a joint meeting with the Hickory, Brookford and Long View Councils at Hickory City Hall, followed by a brief dinner and the Board’s regular meeting at the Hickory City Council Chambers.



1.  Mental Health Services Director John Hardy who, due to his extensive experience with construction projects is serving as Project Manager for the Catawba County Jail Expansion Project, will give an update on the project. The County is presently housing an average of almost 50 prisoners more than the 89-bed capacity of the facility, per day.  A study of the future prison population has indicated the County will need 376 beds by the year 2025. Mr. Hardy will give an update on progress toward construction of the expanded jail facility at the Justice Center. Work has been ongoing on creation of access roads and grading on the site of the expansion for several months.

2.  The Board will consider delegating authority to John Hardy to conduct an open meeting concerning preferred alternates for the jail expansion project.  NC General Statute 133-3 provides for free and open competition on public contracts.  It requires  that any performance standards and preferred alternates on projects such as the jail expansion be discussed at an open meeting, which may be held separately or in conjunction with the project pre-bid meeting.  Construction documents for the project are being finalized.  At this time, there is only one product being considered as a preferred alternate: Trane brand HVAC equipment.  Trane equipment will be specified because the County currently uses a centralized Trane control system for all County buildings, which has reduced the time and costs required to diagnose particular maintenance problems.  Trane is the prominent equipment being used in new buildings and additions, and the use of any other company's equipment would require additional expenses for new control equipment.  The County's maintenance staff receives updated training on all Trane equipment and controls.  Other equipment may be included as a preferred alternate in the future, however none are known at this time.  The County's intent is to discuss any preferred alternates at a pre-bid conference scheduled for March 1, 2005.  The Board's Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board authorize John Hardy to act as the County’s official to facilitate any preferred alternates for the project.

1.  The Board will consider a request from the Catawba County Board of Health to establish a private, non-profit 501 (c)(3) corporation, to be known as the Catawba County Dental Foundation, to oversee a capital campaign and secure all sources of revenue to insure the mission, vision and goals related to the delivery of dental services to the youth of the Catawba Valley area.  A part of the strategy for securing funds to construct a facility for the Dental Center for Catawba Valley Youth is a “grassroots” capital fund-raising campaign.  At its December 6, 2004 meeting, the Board of Health endorsed the idea of a community capital campaign and the establishment of the foundation.  The capital campaign would be conducted for 90 days in the spring of 2005, with the goal to raise $1.5 million dollars.  In addition to the capital campaign, the foundation and Health Department staff will seek all other available funding opportunities, such as local, state and federal grants; private foundations; and congressional and state appropriations.  The Board's Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board endorse the establishment of the Catawba County Dental Foundation as a 501 (c) (3) corporation.

2.  The Board will consider a request from the Catawba County Board of Health to endorse the Catawba County Health Partners' intent to become a private, non-profit 501(c) (3) corporation, which the Board of Health considers essential to the organization's ability to acquire and leverage funds for improving the health and well being of Catawba County residents.  In 2001, the Board of Health established an "Underserved Populations Subcommittee" to identify and address policy issues effecting access and availability of health care services required to meet the needs of underserved populations in Catawba County. When the North Carolina Community Health Assessment Report was completed in January 2004, the subcommittee decided to pursue a Healthy Carolinians community partnership in Catawba County, with a future goal of receiving certification.  Even though Catawba County has not had a formal partnership focused on targeting community health issues, the County has analyzed specific health issues, initiated community partnerships to study the issues, then developed and implemented joint strategies and combined resources to address these issues.  Some examples of current efforts include the Catawba County Adolescent Health Partnership, Tobacco Free Task Force, Nutrition and Obesity Task Force, and Dental Practice Expansion Project.  Developing a formal Healthy Carolinians partnership in Catawba County, structured as a non-profit, 501(c)3 corporation, is a logical next step toward assuring that priority is given and resources are allocated to the most important issues affecting the health and well being of the community.   The Board's Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board endorse the establishment of the Catawba County Health Partners as a 501 (c)(3) corporation.

The Board will consider a request from the Catawba County Board of Education for appropriation of funds from the Schools Capital Projects fund balance for the purchase of land adjacent to Bandys High School.  The Animal Science Program offered at Bandys High School is currently housed on a small farm adjoining the school property.  The farm is now for sale for $215,000 which includes a house and property on approximately 6.3 acres.  The owner has offered to sell five acres and the farm buildings used by the Animal Science Program to the school system for $98,000.  The property offered to the school system includes a small pond, three fenced pastures, one enclosed barn and one enclosed workshop.  The Catawba County Board of Education wishes to purchase the five acres, so it will not lose the use of the farm and facilities once the property is sold.  No other site available near the school would hold the number of animals maintained in the program or provide the barn and fencing needed.  The land will also provide room for future expansion of the high school.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the appropriation of $98,000 from the Schools Capital Projects fund.

The Board will consider a proposed contract to update aerial photography across the county, in cooperation with eight other area counties, at a reduced cost when compared with the most recent aerial photography in 2002 and with the benefit of a faster completion of the project than first anticipated and color photographs.   Catawba County has entered into agreement with the Centralina Council Of Governments, based in Charlotte, to participate in a Joint Orthophoto Project with Alexander, Burke, Cabarrus, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg and Richmond counties.  A fly-over to capture photos will take place in February or March 2005.  The next scheduled fly-over to update orthophotography in Catawba County was expected in the spring  of 2006. The County will be able to move forward and participate in this project, a year early, because funds remain from the last fly-over performed in 2002.  The County will obtain substantial cost savings by participating in the joint project.  The orthophotography costs for the project are $90,671, more than a 40 percent savings from the 2002 fly-over, which cost approximately $156,500.  In, addition, this project is for color orthophotography.  The current photography used on the GIS system is black and white.  Color photography will benefit public users and County departments as well.  The color photos are expected to be available by January 2006.  The Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board authorize contracting with Earthdata International for a fee of $90,671 to update the County’s aerial photography, and authorize the County Manager to execute the contract.
The Board will consider rescinding the County's current noise ordinance and adopting a new noise ordinance.  The County’s noise ordinance has not been modified in some time.  The County has occasionally had difficulty in obtaining convictions for those charged under the current ordinance.  The Sheriff’s Office has seen an increase in the number of noise complaint calls and the current ordinance does not cover enough scenarios to allow officers to assist citizens in some situations.  In drafting a proposed new ordinance, staff reviewed noise ordinances in other counties and case law from the Court of Appeals of North Carolina, which provides direction to insure a balance between the County’s interest in preventing disturbing noises and protecting First Amendment freedoms.

Changes from the previous ordinance include definitions of sound, noise and sound amplification devices; specification of noise generally; and additions to the specific types of noise that are illegal.  Also included are exceptions, as well as a detailed procedure for obtaining a noise permit.  For the first time, fees are included to cover the administrative costs of researching each application.  Proposed fees would be $5 for permits granted at least fourteen days before an event, and $25 if a permit is required and granted less than fourteen days before an activity.  The proposed new ordinance also adds an additional penalty (Class 1 misdemeanor) for those persons convicted of violating the ordinance three times in a five-year period.  The Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends that the Board of Commissioners rescind Article III, Noise, Sections 16-66 through 16-70 and adopt Article III, Noise Sections 16-66 through 16-73 as proposed.