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DECEMBER 19, 2011

Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting
Monday, December 19, 2011, 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 Board’s Regular Meeting and Closed Session of December 5, 2011

5. Recognition of Special Guests

6. Public Comments for Items Not on the Agenda

7. Presentations:

a. Distinguished Public Service Award to Joab Cotton for service on Hickory Public Schools Board of Education

b. Certificates of Commendation to 4-H National Contest Winners Harlie Cope and Dale Bass.

8. Appointments

9. Departmental Reports:

a. Economic Development Corporation

Punker LLC Economic Development Project Review and Incentive Request. Presented by Julie Pruett, Catawba County Economic Development Corporation.

b. Budget

Drug Treatment Court Coordinator. Presented by Budget Manager Jennifer Mace.

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

There will be only one Board of Commissioners Meeting in January 2012. Due to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday on Monday, January 16, 2012, this meeting will take place on Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 7:00 p.m.

DECEMBER 19, 2011, 7 P.M.

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will consider a proposed joint Economic Development Agreement with Punker, LLC, which develops and produces fan wheels for the HVAC and air conditioning industries and will locate its first U.S. facility in Hickory, creating at least 62 jobs, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, December 19, 2011, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton. The Board will consider a request to fund half the costs ($11,000) for the rest of this fiscal year for a coordinator for the Catawba County Drug Treatment Court while grant funding is sought to sustain the program, which was cut from the State budget. Catawba County’s Drug Treatment Court has operated since 2003 with a higher success rate than State averages.

The Board will also recognize Mr. Joab Cotton, who recently retired from service on the Hickory Public Schools Board of Education, including two years as Board Chair, and Catawba County 4-H members who were winners in this year’s national Horse Bowl competition, which is similar to a Quiz Bowl with the questions involving knowledge of horses.

A. The Board will present a Distinguished Public Service Award to Mr. Joab Cotton in recognition of his service to the Hickory Public Schools and Catawba County as a member of the Hickory Board of Education for sixteen years, including eight years as its Vice-Chair and, during the last two years, as Board Chair. During his tenure, the Board of Education retained four exemplary superintendents, implemented the JROTC program at Hickory High School and instituted a standardized dress code in all middle and high schools in the district.

B. The Board will present Certificates of Commendation to Harlie Cope and Dale Bass, recognizing their individual accomplishments in Horse Bowl competition at this year’s All American Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio and Eastern National 4-H Horse Round-Up in Louisville, Kentucky. Ms. Cope finished in first place in the individual category at both competitions, while Mr. Bass finished third in Louisville and fifth in Columbus.



The Board will consider a proposed economic development agreement with Punker LLC, which is considering leasing the 20,000 square foot former Turbotec building at 914 25th Street, SE in Hickory for a minimum of five years. It plans to invest a minimum of $4,584,100 in machinery and equipment and create a minimum of 62 jobs with the potential to create 80 new jobs over five years. The average wage will exceed Catawba County’s average wage ($35,216).

Punker searched for existing buildings in North and South Carolina, Georgia and Ohio. It has determined the best location for its first U.S. manufacturing operation is the Turbotec building in Hickory. Punker is a privately held company, founded in 1954, currently employing over 360 people and headquartered in Eckernförde, Germany. It manufactures fan wheels and blowers for over 1,000 customers on every continent and over 100 different market sectors including cooling systems, roof fans, dust/smoke extraction and commercial ovens. Punker expects the Hickory manufacturing location to grow its product share in the United States. This project represents two of the Economic Development Corporation’s target industries as Punker’s fan wheels provide high energy efficiency and low noise levels.

The proposed incentive is based on the condition of a total new investment of $4,584,000; the creation of a minimum of 62 new jobs, with the potential to create 80 new jobs, paying an average wage at or above Catawba County’s average wage as determined by the NC Department of Commerce; and a requirement that the company not hire anyone 25 years of age or below who does not have a minimum of a high school diploma. Adhering to all State statutes, a County incentive is proposed in the form of a performance based grant with a maximum payment of $8,217 in the first year, $8,535 in the second year, $13,464 in the third year and $14,259 in the fourth year, for a total maximum of $44,475. Should Punker create 80 jobs or more by Dec 31, 2016, the grant will be extended for one additional year, bringing the grant period to five years with a payment of $18,224 in the fifth year, for a total maximum of $62,699. This amount was derived by determining the guaranteed investment and subsequent income stream to the County over a four or five year period, multiplying that figure by 60% for the first four years and 75% for the fifth year. This investment will net a positive payback to the County immediately, similar to paybacks used to determine grant involvement in other County projects. These incentives will be based on the economic development agreement which requires Punker to meet minimum thresholds of investment ($4,584,000 by 2016) and job creation (62 by 2016). The agreement requires repayment should the investment and job creation amounts not be met or sustained.

The Board will consider a request from Catawba County’s S.T.A.R. (Supervision, Treatment, Accountability, and Recovery) Team to fund half the costs of a Drug Treatment Court (DTC) Coordinator position, operating, and travel costs through the end of the fiscal year. Based on a mid-December start date, the projected cost is $22,000. The DTC Coordinator was previously funded by the State of North Carolina but was eliminated on July 1, 2011. Since then, the S.T.A.R. Team has continued to operate the program with voluntary assistance from Cognitive Connections staff. The team plans to apply for a grant to sustain the program, but no grants are available until July 1, 2012. Mental Health Partners has agreed to partner with the County in this effort by acting as fiscal agent and funding half the cost ($11,000).

Catawba County began a DWI court in 2001. At that time, the Administrative Office of the Courts estimated that 50-80% of criminal offenders had problems with substance abuse, 35% of all felony cases filed in 2000-01 were drug offenses, and the County ranked tenth in the state for DWI arrests. This program then became a Drug Treatment Court, funded by a two year Governor’s Crime Commission (GCC) grant through Catawba County Mental Health Services. A second GCC grant was obtained in 2003 to hire a DTC Coordinator and develop a pilot program. The S.T.A.R. Team began its first full year of operation in 2004 and the Catawba County Criminal Justice Partnership Program Advisory Board agreed in 2005 to act as the DTC Advisory Board, completing the final phase necessary to obtain ongoing State funding. In July 2005, the State of North Carolina assumed continued funding for a DTC Coordinator position, operating costs and participant incentives until July 2011, when the State eliminated funding for all DTC programs.

Drug Treatment Courts are a nationally recognized model which began in North Carolina in 1995 to enhance and monitor the delivery of treatment services to chemically dependent adult offenders while holding them accountable for complying with their court-ordered treatment plans. Offenders complete a three phase program that generally spans 12-18 months, during which time they must attend court every two weeks, submit to scheduled and random drug tests, comply with a curfew, attend treatment and recovery meetings, report regularly to probation officers, remain current on all treatment and court fees, seek and/or maintain employment and develop a plan to remain clean and sober after the program. Participants are rewarded along the way and, as they make progress, receive less restrictive curfews and random drug tests instead of two drug screens per week. Failure to comply at any point in the program leads to sanctions including judicial reprimand, electronic house arrest, in-patient intensive drug treatment, local jail time and, finally, dismissal from the program which leads to prison. Multiple national studies have shown DTC to be an effective means of managing these offenders because it is less expensive than prison and significantly breaks the cycle of addiction that leads to repeated law-breaking episodes.

Catawba County’s S.T.A.R. Team has been very successful to date in managing drug offenders. Between 2007 and 2010, Catawba County DTC had a total of 84 people exit the program with 38 graduates (45%) and 46 terminations (55%) for non-compliance. This is better than the State’s average during the same time period of 39% graduates and 61% noncompliant. In the program’s first year of operation, the District Attorney’s Office reported a 30% reduction in felony drug cases compared to the prior year. Over the past nine years, only 18.4% of Catawba County DTC graduates have been arrested for committing new crimes, also known as recidivism. Nationally, the recidivism rate for drug treatment court graduates ranges from 4% to 29% in the first year, in contrast to 48% for those who do not participate in a DTC program.

DTC programs are also less expensive than prison. Because of the level of crimes committed, most of these offenders would be facing State jail time if they weren’t participating in the DTC program. On average it costs about $4,200 for an offender to be enrolled in drug court for a year, compared to $28,000-$32,000 per year to house an inmate in State prison. Based on an average of thirteen graduates per year, that represents a savings of $309,400 to $361,400. All would likely spend more time in local confinement on a pretrial basis, increasing the pressure on the County jail and contributing to the problem of recidivism. As a result of the Justice Reinvestment Act, it appears it will be harder to send offenders to prison for probation violations and counties will be required to house them locally for at least 2-3 periods of 3 to 90 days before going to a State prison. Buncombe, Cumberland, Durham, Guilford, Mecklenburg, and New Hanover counties all have DTC programs that were continued with local funding and Wake has a 3-year grant for its program. The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board appropriate $11,000 toward the cost of a Drug Treatment Court Coordinator position through the end of this fiscal year while grant funding is sought to sustain the program.