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April 4, 2005


Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting 
Monday, April 4, 2005 9:30 a.m.
Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting
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 Board’s Environmental Retreat of March 21, 2005 and the Regular Meeting of March 21, 2005.

5.    Recognition of Special Guests.

6.    Public Comment for items not on the agenda.

7.    Presentations:
a.    Certificate of Commendation to Catawba County Employee Maurice Parent  for Military Service.  Presented by Chair Katherine W. Barnes.

b.    Spring Litter Sweep Proclamation presented to Tony Gallegos, Cooperative Extension Agent for Natural Resources. Presented by Vice-Chair Dan Hunsucker.

c.    Week of the Young Child Proclamation presented to young children accompanying Kim Lyke Salyards, Executive Director, Catawba County Partnership for Children. Presented by Commissioner Lynn Lail.

d.    Child Abuse Prevention Month Proclamation presented to Cyndy Benson, Social Work Program Manager.  Presented by Commissioner Glenn Barger.

e.    National Public Safety Telecommunications Week Proclamation presented to Jerry Boggs, Telecommunications Administrator. Presented by Commissioner Barbara Beatty.
(1) Presentation of individual commendations to telecommunicators by Commissioner Barbara Beatty.
8.    Appointments.

9.    Departmental Reports:

1.   Budget:
Request for appropriation of funds for Newton-Conover City Schools.  Presenter Dr.William R. Crawford, Superintendent Newton-Conover City Schools and Judy Ikerd, Budget Manager.
2.    Finance:
Hickory Metro Convention Center Expansion.  Presented by Rodney Miller, Finance Director.
3. Bid Award:
Jail Expansion and Renovation Project.  Presented by John Hardy, Project Manager and Jail Expansion Team (Sheriff David Huffman, Major Coy Reid, Capt. Tom Lambert, Lt. Mike Hale, Rodney Miller, Debbie Anderson, Ernest Williams, Tim Watson and Toni Gortney).
10.    Attorneys’ Report.

11.    Manager’s Report.

12.    Other items of business.

13.    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 Board of Commissioners meeting will be on Monday, April 18, 2005 at 7:00 p.m.  The Jobs and Business Creation meeting which was previously scheduled for April 18, 2005 has been rescheduled to follow the 8:30 a.m. subcommittee meeting on April 25, 2005.

APRIL 4, 2005,  9:30 A.M.

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will consider awarding a bid for the expansion of the County jail, to address seriously overcrowded conditions at the existing jail, to Hickory Construction Company in the amount of $13,830,500, which is below the originally estimated cost; an appropriation of $43,135 to work with the City of Hickory to finance an expansion to the Hickory Metro Convention Center that will consolidate, in one location, several agencies vital to the county's economic development, and the appropriation of funds to the Newton-Conover City School system for renovations to a building on the Newton-Conover High School campus that would be used for a proposed Health Science and Language Academy, when the Board meets at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, April 4, 2005 in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse in Newton.
The Board will also issue a Certificate of Commendation honoring County Park Ranger Maurice Parent for his service in the war on terror in Iraq, and proclamations declaring April as Child Abuse Prevention Month; April 3-9 as the Week of the Young Child; April 10-16 as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week; and April 16-30 as Litter Sweep Weeks in Catawba County. 

A.  The Board will present a Certificate of Commendation to County Park Ranger Maurice Parent in recognition of his honorable military service in Iraq.  Mr. Parent's service with the 156th Military Police Detachment of the West Virginia Army National Guard included a tour of duty in Iraq from May 2003 to April 2004.  While in Iraq, Parent applied his skills and expertise in police procedures as an instructor at the Iraq Police Academy.  In recognition of his dedicated duty and service, he was awarded the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Army Commendation Medal.  

B.  The Board will issue a proclamation declaring April 16-30, 2005 as Litter Sweep Weeks in Catawba County.  During these weeks, citizens who bring trash collected from road sides, parks, lake sides and other common areas in special orange bags, or recyclable materials collected from the same areas in blue bags, to the Blackburn Landfill or one of the County's five convenience centers may dispose of the bags free of charge.  Citizens may also call the North Carolina Department of Transportation Office at 828-466-5519 to arrange for pickup of bags.  The bags are available at the Utilities & Engineering Department on the second floor of the Government Center in Newton; the Cooperative Extension Office off Highway 321 Business in Newton; the N.C. Department of Transportation's County Maintenance Office at 1302 Prison Camp Road south of Newton; and at Garbage Disposal Service's office at 4062 Section House Road in Hickory.

C.  The Board will issue a proclamation declaring April 3-9 as the Week of the Young Child in support of the Catawba County Partnership for Children, other local organizations and the National Association for the Education of Young Children.  The week serves to call attention to the need for high-quality early childhood services for all children and families within our community and state, in an effort to improve the quality and availability of such services; and recognizes that the future of the community and state depends on the quality of the early childhood experiences provided to young children today and that high-quality early
childhood services represent a worthy commitment to our children’s future.

D.  The Board will issue a proclamation declaring the month of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.  The proclamation acknowledges that child abuse is a community problem and that finding solutions depends on involvement by people throughout the community.  Approximately five million children are reported as abused and neglected in the U.S. every year.  More than 113,000 children are reported as abused and neglected in North Carolina each year. Thirty children were victims of child abuse homicide in North Carolina in 2001.  The effects of child abuse are felt by whole communities, and need to be addressed by the entire community.  The proclamation further recognizes that effective child abuse prevention programs succeed because of partnerships created among social service agencies, schools, religious and civic organizations, law enforcement agencies, and the business community; and it calls on all citizens to become more aware of the negative effects of child abuse and its prevention within the community, and become involved in supporting parents in raising children in a safe, nurturing environment.

E.  The Board will issue a proclamation declaring April 11-17 as National Public Safety Telecommunications Week.  Problems resulting from crime, fire and other disasters effect all segments of our society and, if unabated, can undermine and erode the moral and economic strengths of our community. The men and women working in the Catawba Co. Communications Center are responsible for responding to hundreds of telephone calls from the general public each day for police fire, and emergency medical assistance, and for dispatching assistance to help save lives and property.  The proclamation recognizes their invaluable contribution to the quality of life of Catawba County, and their dedication and hard work.


A.  The Board will consider appropriating $120,000 to renovate a masonry class building at Newton-Conover High School, as part of a project grant from the North Carolina Governor’s Office which will result in creation of a Health Science and Language Academy within the high school.  The Newton-Conover City Schools has received a Bill and Melinda Gates New Schools Project Grant through the Governor’s Office.  These grants are awarded to school systems which have submitted plans to creatively redesign high schools. The system's proposal would create a Health Science and Language Academy, where students would be part of a rigorous curriculum in a small setting with a teacher-student ratio of one to twelve.  Students would explore health science careers and become fluent in Spanish.  The academy would be open to students from all three public school systems in Catawba County.  The Newton-Conover City Schools expects to receive approximately $225,000 from the grant, for the first class of approximately 48 students in the fall of 2005.  The grant may be used for instructional materials, equipment, staff development and contracted services, but cannot be used for facility renovations or staffing. The high school has a stand-alone masonry class building with sufficient space to accommodate the proposed academy.  The Newton-Conover Board of Education is requesting $120,000 to complete renovations to the building, at an estimated cost of $30 per square foot, $15 per square foot below the customary cost for renovations.  The work needs to begin in April in order to have the building ready when school begins in late August.  This item was tabled at the Board's March 21, 2005 meeting because staff from the Newton-Conover City Schools were unable to attend that meeting.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommended on March 14 that the Board approve the appropriation.

1.  The Board will consider appropriating funds in the amount of $43,135 to be paid to the City of Hickory to assist with financing for an expansion to the Hickory Metro Convention Center. On May 26, 2004, the Board of Commissioners held a joint meeting with the Hickory Conover Tourism Development Authority (TDA) Board and the Hickory City Council, during which the three boards agreed to construct a 38,000 square foot expansion at the Hickory Metro Convention Center.  This expansion will co-locate the activities and operations of the Catawba County Economic Development Corporation and the Hickory Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau within the expanded convention center.  In addition, the expansion  will provide for the construction of a larger exhibit space, increasing the opportunities for convention and visitor business as well as future economic development in the Greater Hickory Metro.

Original projections for this financing plan in May 2004 were for a 2.75% interest rate, with Catawba County paying $49,742 during fiscal year 2004-05 and $1.2 million over the life of the loan.  The financing agreement was finalized on September 16, 2004, at a 2.67% variable interest rate, payable semi-annually over fifteen years.  The County’s share of the costs for the expansion will be 28%, or $924,000.  The lower than anticipated interest rate resulted in the County’s share of the debt payment during fiscal year 2004-05 actually being $43,135, with a revised total payout of $1.1 million over fifteen years. In fiscal year 2005-06, the TDA will begin repaying the County, with an initial payment of $12,547 from revenues generated by the facility.  Subsequent payments will be increased annually, based on the amount of decrease in the debt payment incurred by the City of Hickory. 

In the County's 2003-2004 budget, the Board set aside $350,000 for future economic development projects.  The County's contribution to the expansion of the Convention Center will come from that source of funds.  The Board's Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board appropriate $43,135 to be paid to the City of Hickory to finance improvements to the Hickory Metro Convention Center. 

2.  The Board will consider awarding bids for construction of the expansion and renovation of the County Jail facility.  In the County's FY 2003-04 budget, the Board began dedicating ½ cent of the tax rate annually to pay debt service on an expansion of the County’s jail facility, which has experienced severe overcrowding over the last several years.  The County is presently housing an average of over 60 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.  The expansion will relieve overcrowding by adding an additional 176 beds and approximately 75,000 square feet.

Three bids were received for the jail expansion and renovation on March 22, 2005.  The bid document asked for a base bid and four alternates, as follows: Alternate #1, for replacing the existing Justice Center fire alarm system; alternate #2, for the use of Trane mechanical equipment, which is preferred by the County because it already uses a central control system manufactured by Trane for County buildings; alternate #3,  for a fire pump; and alternate #4, for an emergency engine-generator set and automatic transfer switches and feeders, in lieu of a utility-provided generator and transfer arrangement. 

The bids received were as follows:  1) DeVere Construction, Alpena, MI: $13,837,000 (for both the base bid and alternate #1), $40,000 for alternate #3 and $200,000 for alternate #4; 2) Hickory Construction Company, Hickory, NC: $13,750,000 base bid, $80,500 for alternate #1; $62,500 for alternate #3 and $196,500 for alternate #4; and 3) LeChase Construction Services LLC, Huntersville, NC: $15,100,000 base bid, $200,000 for alternate #1; $75,000 bid for alternate #3 and $220,000 for alternate #4.  All three vendors submitted bids meeting the provisions of alternate #2 at no cost.  

Alternates #3 and #4 were eliminated for all bidders because other arrangements were made for alternative power generation and water supply through the City of Newton.  These arrangements were made after the bid documents were published.  Staff recommended the use of alternates #1 and #2 as noted above. 

The apparent low bid is less than the County's original estimate for construction costs, which was $14,568,494.  Hickory Construction Company is the apparent low bidder with a base bid of $13,750,000 and $80,500 for Alternate #1, contingent upon certified bid tabulation and documentation of minority outreach by Hickory Construction Company, as required by County policy.  The Board's Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the bid for the construction of the Jail Expansion and Renovation Project be awarded to Hickory Construction Company in the amount of $13,830,500.