MURPHY, N.C. – Grant money for a new soccer field located at Heritage Park in Andrews was discussed by the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners along with Andrews Mayor James Reid at the April 23 county commissioners meeting.
“Previously, the board had approved the soccer club to use and construct a field at Heritage Park,” Commissioner C.B. McKinnon explained. “In conversation, maybe … Andrews is willing to take the lead of that because there’s some possibility of applying for some grant money to help with that. It looks like we got about $30,000 now roughly to work with and so if we could compound that with a grant, it would mean a lot.”
Reid stated the goal of the proposed soccer field is for it to be open for use not only for the local soccer league but also for the entire community.
“We do have someone that’s ready to break ground on it pretty quick,” Reid said. “We also have that PARTF (Parks and Recreation Trust Fund) grant that we could go after. If the county decided to do something with that, we could do it in (the county’s) name or (the town of Andrews’) name … but we’d just like to go ahead and try to move forward to try to get that grant money secured if at all possible.”
Also, Reid added the town’s long-term goal is to eventually construct three soccer fields but for now, the initial plan is to construct one field. Concerning the potential PARTF grant, Reid stated the application deadline was May 1. To this, Commissioner Cal Stiles suggested to Reid to consult with Russ Harris, a grant writer with Southwestern Commission, for assistance with the grant application process.
After further discussion, commissioners approved for the town of Andrews to take the lead in planning and in the construction for the soccer field.
“So between now and maybe even the next meeting, let’s see if we can develop that plan and be ready and we’ll present it and we’ll all be on board with the same process so there’s no confusion,” McKinnon told Reid.
Gary Chamberlain, of the North Carolina Litter Free Coalition, proposed a proclamation to the board to declare May 19 an America the Beautiful Event Day in Cherokee County during which residents are encouraged to pick up litter along roadways of their choosing within the county. Of the event, Chamberlain spoke of the importance of leaving the orange bags of trash collected from county roadways for three days as a reminder to citizens of the impact of littering. After three days, participating residents are encouraged to call the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) at 828-837-2742 to have the NCDOT pick up the collected bags of trash.
Commissioner McKinnon stated while he supported the proclamation, he was concerned about the prospect of leaving bags on the side of roadways for three days.
“The three-day deal, with the garbage on the road, I know its purpose is to show people that you’re out there picking the garbage up,” McKinnon said, “but they (NCDOT) like to get that as quick as they can and they really don’t like leaving it three days for a number of reasons. One being is they get a little criticism over that … That’s the only part of (the proclamation) I’d like to leave out, so they can go ahead and pick it up when they can or as soon as they can.”
To this, Chamberlain told McKinnon leaving the bags on the side of roads for three days has a “very positive value” and “sends a message.” After some further discussion, commissioners passed the proclamation as presented 4-1 with McKinnon voting against.
“Mr. Chamberlain, I can agree with you that it does make an impact when you drive down the road and you see those bags out there,” Commissioner Stiles said of the event.
The board approved a number of budget revisions during the meeting. A $5,000 budget increase was approved for the Emergency Management department to purchase an accountability system to use to track personnel of the county’s volunteer fire departments. According to the revision, Emergency Management received $17,722 in additional grant money from an Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG) and the funds for the purchase were approved to be taken from this grant money.
A budget revision to repair a Jeep Cherokee used by the Department of Social Services (DSS) in the amount of $2,844 was approved. The vehicle, according to Finance Director Candy Anderson, had been in two accidents and the county received insurance proceeds in the amount $1,879.
Commissioners also approved Cherokee County Schools to use $44,658 from the half-cent school sales tax to cover replacements of two fire alarm systems at the Andrews High School band building and shop building in the amount of $11,540 each, a $20,939 expenditure for Microsoft Office upgrades and licensing expenses for the school system, and a $639 match with the county to replace bleachers at Peachtree Elementary School.
A $25,000 revision for a school system match to expand the Murphy River Walk Trail near Konahetta Park was tabled after County Manager Randy Wiggins told the board issues involving the flood plain of Valley River were still be researched.
Oscar Valdes, an 86-year-old Korean War veteran, spoke to commissioners about changing the sign at Konahetta Park to read “Konahetta Veterans Park” and to add a patriotic red, white and blue color scheme to the proposed new sign. Valdes stated the new sign would cost $898.80 to erect, of which $58.80 of the estimate from Curtis Sign Shop is sales tax and would not not be charged to the county. Valdes said he would like to see the sign installed sometime before Memorial Day. Because the park lies within the city limits of Murphy, the board tabled its decision to allow more time to consult with the city of Murphy about a joint venture regarding the sign and to review draft of the sign’s design.
The board set 4:30 p.m. as a daily deadline for all land recordings submitted to the register of deeds office. Last month, Daphne Dockery, register of deeds, petitioned to the board to set an earlier time for a deadline for recordings in an effort to manage overtime for employees within the county register of deeds office.
Southwestern Commission was approved by the commissioners to continue as lead agency to coordinate the preparation of the county Home and Community Care Block Grant (HCCBG) program for Aging Services for fiscal year 2018-19. The board also approved the committee structure for the HCCBG five-member committee to be the Cherokee County Senior Center director, the county transit director, the director of DSS, the county manager and county finance director, or designees of the aforementioned positions.
Also, commissioners set a budget work session for May 30 at 5 p.m.
Following an executive session, two decisions were approved by the board. Commissioners unanimously approved a grant resolution for The Mining Store, a cryptocurrency mining data storage center that will be occupying the former Emerson building in Peachtree, North Carolina, and will create 25 jobs with an average pay of $40,000 annually. According to the resolution, the county Board of Commissioners is providing $30,000 in Incentive Funding to the project to be paid over a three-year period and $15,000 for a 5 percent match for a Building Reuse Grant. The county is expected to be reimbursed by the North Carolina Department of Commerce.
The board unanimously approved revisions to a five-year airport ground lease with MedTrans. County Manager Wiggins read the changes to the contract to include a $30 per month fair-market lease price, to eliminate one clause concerning the lessee’s right to erect, maintain and alter buildings or structures upon the premises, to change the wording in the arbitration clause to read “Cherokee County, North Carolina” instead of “American Arbitration Association”, and “for (the county attorney) to add language to (the lease) that should at any time the FFA (Federal Aviation Administration) find the agreement to be incompatible with their rules and regulations that the lease would be terminated at that time and a new lease would be developed.”
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Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.