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February 6, 2006


Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting 
Monday, February 6, 2006, 8:45 am
Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room, 1924 Courthouse
30 North College Avenue, Newton, NC 28658

1.    Call to Order.

2.     Motion to move into Closed Session in accordance with General Statute 143-318.11(6) to consider the qualifications, competence, performance, character, fitness, conditions of appointment, or conditions of initial employment of an individual public officer or employee.

3.    9:30 a.m. - Pledge of Allegiance

4.    Invocation.

5.    Approval of Minutes
from the Closed Session meeting of January 9, 2006, the Special Joint Meeting of January 10, 2006 and the Regular Meeting of January 17, 2006.

4.    Recognition of Special Guests.

5.    Public Comment for items not on the agenda.

6.    Presentations:
a.  Presentation of the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award to Judy Ikerd, Budget Manager and Katrina Hawkins, Budget Analyst.

b.    Hickory City Schools Long Range Plan.  Presented by Dr. Duane H. Kirkman, Superintendent, Hickory City Schools.

c.    Economic Development Corporation Plan of Work for 2006.  Presented by Scott Millar, President, Economic Development Corporation.
7.    Public Hearings:
Landfill Alternative Siting Study Public Hearing.  Presented by Barry B. Edwards, Director of Utilities and Engineering.
8.    Appointments.

9.        Consent Agenda:
a.    Bid Award – Bid #06-1004 Hydraulic Excavator

b.    Timber Sale Award – Riverbend Park

c.    2006 Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Joint Application.
10.    Departmental Reports.
a.  Planning:
Support for Reclassification of Maiden creek and Allen Creek. Presented by Mary George, Senior Planner.
b.  Utilities and Engineering:
Catawba County Regional Eco-Complex and Resource Recovery Facility Project:  Energy Facility Development.
c.   County Manager’s Office/Elections:
Purchase of New Voting Equipment. Presented by Lee Worsley, Assistant County Manager and Larry Brewer, Elections Director.
11.    Other items of business.
12.    Attorneys’ Report.
13.    Manager’s Report.

14.    Adjournment.

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

The next of Commissioners Meeting will take place on Monday, February 20, 2006 at 7:00 p.m.

FEBRUARY 6, 2006,  9:30 A.M.

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing on a Landfill Alternative Site Study, which must be performed prior to a proposed expansion of the Blackburn Landfill; consider a recommendation from staff and the Board of Elections on the purchase of new vote tabulators following passage of a new State law that changed the way in which tabulators are certified in North Carolina; and a letter of intent with Petra Engineering of Huntersville, NC for development services related to a proposed Eco-Complex Energy Facility, when the Board meets at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, February 6, 2006, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse in Newton. 

The Board will also receive a report on the 2006 Plan of Work for the Catawba County Economic Development Corporation; receive the Hickory Public School System's Long-Range Facility Plan; consider a resolution supporting a request of the Town of Maiden that State officials declassify an existing watershed area that is no longer used as a public water supply; consider accepting a 2006 federal Justice Assistance Grant that would be used to purchase a forensic light kit for use in Sheriff's Office investigations; award a bid on the purchase of a hydraulic excavator needed at the Blackburn Landfill; and approve a bid for the sale of timber at Riverbend Park.  The Board will also formally present a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association to the staff of the County Budget Office.

A.  The Board will formally present the County's Budget staff with a 2005 Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association.  The award is presented to local governments that prepare and publish a budget document which is both informative and understandable.  This is the 17th consecutive year in which Catawba County has won this award.   Budget Manager Judy Ikerd and Budget Analyst I Katrina Hawkins will accept the award.

B.  The Board will receive a presentation on the Hickory Public School system's long-range facility needs.  Public school systems are required to submit long-range capital facility plans to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.  The Hickory Board of Education's facility plan lists facility needs for the system, and indicates how the 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 of Commissioners receive the presentation on the Hickory Public School System's long range plan and review the plan before its submission to the State.

C.  The Board will receive a report on the 2006 Plan of Work of the Catawba County Economic Development Corporation from the Corporation's President, Mr. Scott Millar.

The Board will hold a public hearing to receive citizen input on a Landfill Alternative Site Study.  Under North Carolina General Statute §153A-136, before proceeding with an expansion of the Blackburn Landfill, the Board must first consider alternative sites, socioeconomic and demographic data and hold a public hearing.  In 2002, the Board accepted a Landfill Alternative Site Study prepared by Camp, Dresser and McKee.  Several adjacent properties have since been acquired for use in obtaining soil material for daily landfill operations.  On June 6, 2005, the Board approved an update to the 2002 study, which used the same general methodology, and screening and evaluation criteria to recommend a preferred site. The objectives of this study are to identify and select alternative landfill sites; evaluate and compare those sites to the expansion of the Blackburn Landfill; and recommend a single site on which the County should move forward.

Based on the results of the updated study, Camp Dresser and McKee recommends the proposed Blackburn expansion site as the preferred site for the County. The proposed Blackburn expansion site has advantages over the three alternative sites determined through the study, with respect to engineering and environmental criteria.  Some of the more important advantages of this site include the County’s ownership of the proposed expansion site; the anticipated ease of permitting; the proximity to the County’s critical customer, the City of Hickory; and the relatively low cost. 

A.  The Board will consider awarding a bid for a new hydraulic excavator and authorizing the trade-in of a 1992 Caterpillar EL240 Excavator.  The landfill needs to replace the 1992 excavator, which has 5358 hours of use, to prevent major maintenance costs anticipated from an increasing amount of work for this machine.  Excavators are used to dig dirt for daily coverage of garbage buried in the landfill, loading trucks, cleaning sediment basins, installing gas lines and culverts, and land clearing.  On January 17, 2006, the County received bids for a 77,000-lb. class hydraulic excavator.  County specifications required a five year or 5000 hour power train warranty. Three bids were received, as follows:  1) Linder Industrial Machinery Co., Charlotte, NC for a Komatsu PC3000LC-7, $228,256 (plus warranty for $3245) for a total of $231,501, less trade-in of the Caterpillar EL240 for $30,000 for a net bid of $201,501; 2) Carolina Tractor, Hickory, NC for a Caterpillar 330CL, $248,575.75 including warranty, less trade-in of the Caterpillar EL240 for $30,000 for a net bid of $218,575.75; and 3) James River Equipment Co., Greensboro, NC for a John Deere 370C, $239,934 (plus warranty for $4500) less trade-in of the Caterpillar EL240 for $10,000 for a net bid of $229,434.  The Komatsu PC300LC-7 excavator bid by the low bidder had four exceptions to County staff specifications.  However, after reviewing the Komatsu specifications and doing a site visit to inspect the machine, staff feels these exceptions are minor and do not warrant paying an additional $17,074 to purchase the machine bid by the next lowest bidder.  The Board's Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board award the bid to Linder Industrial Machinery Co., in the amount of $201,501, and authorize the trade-in of the 1992 Caterpillar EL240 Excavator towards this purchase.

B.  The Board will consider accepting a bid from ASC Timber of Olin, North Carolina, in the amount of $131,250, for the sale of 30 acres of timber located at Riverbend Park.  On January 9, 2006, five sealed bids were received as follows:  1) Piedmont Hardware Lumber Co., Inc., $ 95,380; 2) Wood Harvest, Inc., $ 97,007; 3) S & L Sawmill, Inc., $112,585; 4) Shaver Wood Products, Inc., $125,200; 5) ASC Timber, $131,250.  The County's initial estimate for the proceeds of this sale was $60,000 plus.  Raymond Taylor, Registered Forester, conducted the sale for a fee of 8% of the proceeds.  Net proceeds will be placed in the Parks Preservation Fund in the County Budget to be used for matching funds for any future grants received and/or future improvements to the parks. The Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board accept the highest bid from ASC Timber, in the amount of $131,250.

C.  The Board will consider approving a joint grant application with the City of Hickory for a federal 2006 Justice Assistance Grant (JAG).  Catawba County and the City of Hickory are eligible to receive a combined allocation of $27,158 under the program.  The JAG Program utilizes Uniform Crime Reporting statistics of all law enforcement agencies to determine eligibility for grant funds.  Cities and counties are required to submit joint applications for available funding.  Counties may request additional funds from cities within their jurisdiction if the city’s award is more than 1.5 times that of the county, because the county is responsible for housing prisoners and providing court security.  This year, Catawba County is eligible for a direct award of $10,572 and the City of Hickory is eligible for a direct award of $16,586 which is more than 1.5 times more than the County will receive.  The City of Hickory has agreed to give the County $373 of its award, increasing the County award to $10,945. No local match is required. The City of Hickory has also agreed to serve as the lead agency in the grant application process. The Sheriff’s Office proposes to use its funds to purchase a Forensic Light Source Kit that uses varying wavelengths of light, allowing evidence such as fingerprints, hair, fiber, body fluids, human skin damage, and other items to be located that cannot be seen with the unaided human eye.  Once this evidence is located, crime scene specialists can use it to possibly identify perpetrators of a crime.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the grant application and allocate funds once the grant award is approved.



The Board will consider approving a resolution in support of the Town of Maiden's request for the reclassification of Maiden Creek and Allen Creek from a WS-II watershed to a WS-V watershed.  In 1989, the State of North Carolina passed the Watersupply Watershed Protection Act.  The purpose of this law is to protect the lakes and rivers from which people get their drinking water.  The State required all cities and counties that have lakes and rivers used to provide drinking water to protect them by passing the State’s minimum watershed regulations.  In 1993, Catawba County complied with this law and adopted watershed regulations for six State-designated watershed areas, including Maiden Creek and Allen Creek, which then served as the Town of Maiden’s primary and secondary drinking water supply.

In 2000, Maiden evaluated the structural integrity and capacity of its reservoir dam and decided to stop using the reservoir for its drinking water supply.  In January 2002, the Town of Maiden contracted with the City of Hickory to purchase water for its drinking source.  With the abandonment of Maiden Creek and Allen Creek as its drinking supply, the Town of Maiden has requested the State’s reclassification of the watersheds.  The State has recommended the Town of Maiden request Catawba County’s support for the reclassification of the water supply designation for both creeks.

Staff of the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources' Water Quality Section has indicated it would recommend Maiden Creek and Allen Creek be classified with a WS-V watershed designation.  A WS-V classification is required for all former water supply designated rivers and creeks.  Normally, within a WS-V watershed, no land use restrictions are required for development nor are there discharge restrictions for wastewater as in other water supply classifications.  However, the State has also indicated it feels the two creeks should retain a supplemental classification that would restrict new development, similar to the current WS-II watershed regulations with 12% imperviousness and one-acre lot sizes. 

The Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board support the reclassification of Maiden Creek and Allen Creek from a WS-II to a WS-V classification; and remove any supplemental classification for the proposed WS-V classification to remove any watershed-related land use restrictions that would apply.  If the State approves the reclassification, the Board would hold a required public hearing to amend the County's watershed ordinance.

The Board will consider approving a Letter of Intent between Catawba County and Petra Engineering PLLC of Huntersville, NC for developmental services related to a proposed Eco-Complex Energy Facility Development.  Staff has studied the concept of a Regional Eco-Complex and Resource Recovery Facility, to be located adjacent to the Blackburn Landfill.  The purpose of the complex would be to promote economic development and create new jobs in the green energy and business, agricultural, and environmental sectors. The Eco-Complex design would take the waste streams created by existing business near the landfill, and by the landfill itself, and convert it into materials that will be used by other new businesses.  As examples, the County has been in discussions with a company that makes wood pallets that is interested in locating in the proposed complex and would use the wood waste not needed by Gregory Wood Products, which is already operating adjacent to the landfill, to make the pallets.  A brick and pottery kiln is also a possibility, which would use waste produced in other parts of the complex in the production of bricks.  A greenhouse has been discussed which would use carbon dioxide produced in other segments of the complex to promote plant growth, and a turf research farm is another possibility that would benefit from soil composting facilities already at the landfill, and which has already attracted the interest of Appalachian State University and may be of interest to other colleges and universities for research purposes.  Staff will present a PowerPoint presentation at this meeting that makes the concept of the complex easier to understand.  The Board's Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board approve a Letter of Intent between the County and Petra Engineering for developmental services, at an expected cost of $25,000, related to the proposed Eco-Complex Energy Facility Development.   The Board of Commissioners will approve a final design for the proposed complex and each part of the complex, as agreements are reached to add new components to the complex. 

The Board will consider a recommendation from the Catawba County Board of Elections, County staff and its Finance and Personnel Subcommittee to authorize execution of a grant agreement with the State Board of Elections regarding the purchase of voting equipment, and adopt a related supplemental budget appropriation.  Catawba County purchased eSlate voting tabulators from Hart InterCivic of Austin, Texas in January 2004, after a very thorough procurement process that, along with a comprehensive voter education campaign, won a National Association of Counties award in June 2005.  The equipment was certified by the State Board of Elections for use in Catawba County. 

During the November 2004 general election, problems with voting equipment in Carteret County, NC resulted in a delay in declaring a winner in the NC Commissioner of Agriculture and the Superintendent of State Public Instruction races.  As a direct result of the issues in Carteret County, Senate Bill 223 was approved by the North Carolina General Assembly. 

One of the requirements of the new law is that Direct Record Equipment (DRE) such as the Hart InterCivic eSlate must produce a verifiable paper receipt, which would be displayed to the voter while he or she casts a vote and then would remain with the machine should the need for a hand-to-eye recount occur.  The Hart eSlates have the ability for a printer to be added that would produce the required receipt.  County staff was working with Hart on this issue when Hart determined that other provisions of the law would prevent the company from continuing to do business in North Carolina. Hart specifically is not comfortable with two provisions of the new North Carolina law:  1) a $7.5 million performance bond required from each vendor to fund a statewide election if voting equipment fails during an election.  Hart understood the State's interest in having a bond large enough to cover a statewide election in case of voting machine malfunction, but not that each vendor should post a separate bond.  For Hart, which was doing business in Catawba County only in North Carolina, the bond requirement would cost $75,000-$150,000 a year.  County staff proposed that the State Board of Elections, or another entity, hold one performance bond in the amount of $7.5 million and require vendors to pay their proportionate share of the yearly cost of the bond in order to remain certified. This modification would allow any vendor to justify the cost of doing business in North Carolina, no matter how many, or how few, counties the vendor does business with.   2) a requirement that vendors place their source code in escrow.  Hart has placed its source code in escrow in Indiana and California.  The new law in North Carolina was unacceptable to Hart because it gives extremely broad access to source codes.  Catawba County proposed minor changes to the statute that would still allow the source code to be placed in escrow while at the same time protect a business's proprietary information. 

In order for these issues to be addressed, the General Assembly would have to make changes to Senate Bill 223.   Despite considerable efforts by County officials to work with the County's legislative delegation, the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners and other counties to have a session called, no such session has been called.  In order to be ready for the upcoming primary, the County needs to move forward with the purchase of certified voting equipment. One stop voting for the 2006 primary will begin on April 13, 2006 and the primary will be held on May 2, 2006. 

Only one vendor, Electronic Systems and Software (ES&S), is certified to sell election equipment in North Carolina. The State is providing grant funds, through the Federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and additional State funds, to assist in purchasing equipment.  Catawba County will be eligible for $593,764 in grant funding, which will be paid directly by the State Board of Election to ES&S.  As a result, it will not be necessary for the County to appropriate the grant funds.  The State Board of Elections has decided to conduct acceptance testing of each tabulator, reducing the amount Catawba County would have to spend by an additional $25,615.  Considerable misinformation has been generated indicating that this grant funding would pay for all optical scan equipment, so there should be no impact to local taxpayers.  As the options outlined below indicate, this is not true.  While the grant will fund the majority of the cost of optical scan equipment, it will not fund all costs and the County will be liable for a portion of the cost of new voting equipment. Additionally, these figures do not include a tremendous cost in staff time required to implement the new voting system

The County has four options available in order to be ready for the primary.  The options are outlined below:

  • Option 1 - The County could use paper ballots for the primary.  If this option were chosen, the County would still be required to purchase ADA-accessible voting equipment for individuals with disabilities to be placed at each precinct.  The approximate cost for this option would be $331,230.  Of this cost, HAVA grant funding would pay for $331,230 and the County would be responsible for $0.
  • Option 2 - The County could purchase the ES&S iVotronic touch screen DRE voting equipment for all precincts and one-stop sites.  The approximate cost for this option would be $1,682,810.  Of this cost, HAVA grant funding would pay for $593,764 and the County would be responsible for $1,089,046.
  • Option 3 - The County could purchase Optical Scan equipment and ADA equipment for each of the precincts and the one-stop sites.  The approximate cost for this option would be $682,675.  Of this cost, HAVA grant funding would pay for $593,764 and the County would be responsible for $88,911.
  • Option 4 - The County could purchase optical scan/ADA units for all precincts, and DRE machines for the one-stop sites.  The use of DREs at one-stop sites would make it much easier for poll workers to deal with the different ballot styles.  The approximate cost for this option would be $812,155.  Of this cost, HAVA grant funding would pay for $593,764 and the County would be responsible for $218,391.
The Catawba County Board of Elections met on January 4, 2006 to make a recommendation to the Board of Commissioners on the type of voting machine to purchase.  The Board of Elections voted unanimously to recommend optical scan/ADA machines at the precincts and ADA-compliant DRE machines at the County’s one-stop sites (Option 4).  After reviewing the recommendation of the Board of Elections, staff also finds that this mix of DREs and optical Scan equipment (Option 4) is the most effective method of purchasing equipment.  County staff is prepared to begin selling the County's existing Hart voting equipment immediately and is communicating with several jurisdictions that have expressed interest in the equipment.  The Board of Commissioners' Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends that the Board authorize appropriate County officials to execute a grant agreement with the State Board of Elections regarding the purchase of DRE, Optical Scan and ADA Automark voting equipment, at a cost not to exceed $812,155 (Option 4), and  appropriate $218,391 from fund balance to purchase the new voting equipment.