Darryl Brown hired as county attorney

Business, News

[Featured image: Judge Tessa Sellers congratulates Murphy attorney Darryl Brown after being sworn in as the new Cherokee County attorney Tuesday, April 3. (Photo courtesy of Maria Hass)]

MURPHY, N.C. – After an extended executive session at Monday night’s meeting, the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners reconvened to hire Darryl Brown as county attorney.

County Finance Director Candy Anderson explained the parameters of the hire would be for the remainder of the 2017-2018 fiscal year, which ends June 30, and the amount paid to Brown for that period would not exceed $12,500.

The board unanimously approved the parameters of the contract and then unanimously approved the hiring of Brown.

During the executive session, the board met and interviewed both Brown and attorney David Sawyer, who were the two candidates for the open position.

Murphy attorney Darryl Brown, left, takes the oath of office to serve as county attorney from Judge Tessa Sellers Tuesday, April 3. (Photo courtesy of Maria Hass)

Cherokee County has been without a county attorney since the Feb. 5 commissioners meeting when the Board of Commissioners voted to dismiss former county attorney Scott Lindsay. In that decision, commissioners Dr. Dan Eichenbaum, C.B. McKinnon and Gary Westmoreland voted in favor of Lindsay’s removal while commissioners Roy Dickey and Cal Stiles voted against the move.

According to the terms of Brown’s appointment, he will receive a $5000 annual retainer fee, due upon hiring and again at the beginning of each fiscal year (July 1). Brown’s monthly fee is $2,500 a month, which is $250 an hour for a guaranteed minimum of 10 hours per month. Any time over 10 hours in a month will be charged a $175 hourly fee. Brown will also receive a $500 allocation for books relevant to county representation and a $12,000 annual fee for on-call counsel for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, half of which is to be paid at the beginning of the fiscal year (July 1) and the other half to be paid at the beginning of the calendar year. Also, the county will cover the cost of travel and training for the annual county attorney conference and annual sheriff’s conference.

 

According his website, Brown is criminal defense attorney and native of Cherokee County. Brown received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina at Asheville in 1989. In 1992, Brown received his Juris Doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was admitted to practice law by the North Carolina state bar.

From 1993 to 1996, Brown served as assistant district attorney for the 29th Prosecutorial District of North Carolina, which encompasses Henderson, McDowell, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties, and from 1996 to 2004, he served as assistant district attorney for the 30th Prosecutorial District of Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties. In 2004, Brown transitioned into private practice criminal defense in Murphy where he continues his practice to this day.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Jason Beck

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.

Commissioners, Sheriff Palmer hear of bull situation in Unaka community

News

MURPHY, N.C. – The future of a red, nocturnal bull loose in the Unaka community was discussed at the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners April 2 meeting.

Linda Dubois spoke in public commentary on behalf of herself and her husband, Jon Dubois. Linda DuBois explained they have been residents in the Unaka community for over five years, and in that time, they have invested labor and finances over $1,000 to clear a 5 to 6-acre portion of their 15-acre property that composes the front yard of their residence.

“Lately, a red and curly haired bull has been tromping in our front yard to eat our sprouting green grass that we have seeded, mowed and carefully attended and, of course, leaving hundreds of piles of stinking diarrhea every night,” DuBois stated, while also presenting the board with pictures of the damage sustained in her yard.

The Unaka resident continued to explain the bull has been “free ranging” in their yard at night only for the past month, and during the day, is nowhere to be seen. DuBois also stated she had spoken with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) about the situation on four different occasions, and the CCSO conducted an investigation to determine the owner of the bull, but no nearby residents claimed ownership. DuBois then asked the BOC what they could do to help her.

“So nobody’s claiming this bull?” Commissioner C.B. McKinnon asked DuBois, which DuBois affirmed was correct.   “(It’s) probably a $1,500 to $2,000 animal. Why don’t you claim it and sell it?”

After DuBois asked of the penalty of cattle theft in North Carolina, McKinnon reminded DuBois that no one had claimed it and it was invading her property.

After further discussion, Sheriff Derrick Palmer offered to meet personally with DuBois the next day to discuss options to resolve the situation in accordance with free-roaming livestock laws.

Later, the commissioners voted to affirm a county ordinance already in place concerning name changes for roads. According to Sam Davis, of the Cherokee County Emergency Management Agency, the consent of 75 percent of property owners on a road is needed to change the name of a road.

At the March 19 commissioners meeting, Marble resident Anthony McCray addressed the BOC of his desire to change the name of Lambert Road, where he resides, back to Lower Vengeance Creek Road. McCray claimed the road name had changed in 2014 to reflect the surname of another resident, Ronald Lambert, without going through the proper channels of procedure. McCray also stated he felt a road should not be given a surname unless all residents of the road have that same surname.

Ronald Lambert, also in attendance at that meeting, told the commission that reverting back to the previous name would cause undue financial stress for him since he is a licensed foster parent through the state and all of his licensing would have to be changed to reflect the road name change.

After affirming the ordinance, the board told McCray and Lambert, both again present for the meeting, to resolve the issue among themselves, and if 75 percent of the residents on Lambert Road desired a new name, the residents could proceed with the process according to the ordinance.

Daphne Dockery, register of deeds, addressed the board about establishing a definite daily deadline time for all land recordings submitted to the register of deeds office. Chairman Dr. Dan Eichenbaum suggested setting the deadline time at 4:30 p.m. and Dockery told the board the sooner daily deadline would help curtail overtime among employees in the register of deeds office. The issue was tabled so as to give Dockery more time to collect data to assist the board with making a decision at a future meeting.

Also in public commentary, Aurelia Stone asked the commissioners to consider adopting a county ordinance that would require vacation rentals by owner (VRBOs) to have regular inspections and to contain fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors. According to Stone, state law currently does not require these mandates as it does for commercially owned vacation rentals. Stone stated this lack of requirements puts guests at risk when renting a VRBO.

The board approved and accepted two budget revisions. The first was an increase for revenue in the amount of $591 from a Smart Start Grant. The other revision was also an increase for an increase in the amount of $9,467 for state health promotion funding for mass media or messaging campaign to promote healthy communities.

Commissioners scheduled three budget meetings for Friday, April 27, at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, May 31, at 6:30 p.m., and Thursday, June 28, at 6:30 p.m. in anticipation of finalizing the county budget for fiscal year 2018-2019. The April 27 meeting will be a departmental budget hearing, the May 31 meeting will be a budget work session for the county commissioners and the June 28 meeting is scheduled for the final adoption of the 2018-19 fiscal year county budget.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Jason Beck

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.

Commissioners hear road name dispute, tell of DC visit

News, Politics

MURPHY, N.C. – A dispute over the name of a road was presented to the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners during their Monday, March 19, meeting.

On the agenda was Anthony McCray, who is a 25-year resident of Lambert Road in Marble. McCray told the commissioners the road had formerly been known as Lower Vengeance Creek Road until the change to Lambert Road during a 911 addressing process in 2014 and he would like to see it restored to its previous name.

County Manager Randy Wiggins explained he was told that the road never had an official name according to 911 addressing records prior to the name of Lambert Road, which was named after one of the four property owners on the road, Ronald Lambert. Wiggins also stated no file of the name change petition from the four property owners could be found on record with the county.

In his complaint, McCray stated, “I just don’t think a road name should be in a surname when there’s different families living on the same road.” McCray also spoke directly to Lambert, who was in attendance at the meeting, and said he always considered him to be “a good neighbor” and whatever the outcome of the issue, his opinion of Lambert would remain the same.

Marble resident Ronald Lambert addresses the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners about a dispute over the name change of Lambert Road where he resides.

Lambert spoke after McCray saying, “The reason the road needed a name is because I’m a North Carolina licensed foster parent (and) once a year, the fire marshal comes out to my house to inspect my house. He said since there’s more than three residences on the road, the road must have a name. He looked at me and said, ‘You own two of residences, the other one is up for sale, I going to name it Lambert Road.'”

Lambert also said he did not know whether or not there was ever a petition among the residents to change the road. He further explained McCray does not receive his mail on Lambert Road but rather on Pisgah Road in Andrews. Ultimately, Lambert stated he wished for the road to remain Lambert Road, citing that changing his foster licensing to reflect a new address through the state would be troublesome and costly to him. Lambert also stated McCray is the only resident on the road that has an issue with the name.

Commissioner C.B. McKinnon stated that because no paperwork of the name change seems to exist on record, the road could rightfully revert back to Lower Vengeance Creek Road. However, he also said changing the name back to this would be pointless since a majority of the residents are content with its current name: “It looks to me like (the other residents) are going to change it right back to Lambert Road.”

McKinnon asked McCray and Lambert to try to settle the dispute themselves and the item was tabled by the board.

Earlier in the meeeting, John Higdon, executive director of facilities for Cherokee County Schools, presented the board with a budget amendment to use the half-cent school sales tax fund for a lump sum purchase in the amount of $367,707 for a number of maintenance expenditures at various schools throughout the system. The expenditures are a result of the findings of a finance subcommittee of the Board of Education organized to address needs of the school system. 

The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners hears a budget amendment request from John Hidgon, not pictured, to use the half-cent school sales tax fund. Pictured are, from left to right, Commissioner Gary Westmoreland, Chairman Dr. Dan Eichenbaum, Commissioner C.B. McKinnon, Commissioner Cal Stiles and County Manager Randy Wiggins.

The amount will cover six maintenance and repair projects, including a $343,900 project to replace the roof of Andrews High School gymnasium and cafeteria, a $1,537 expenditure to cover half the cost for a new scoreboard at the softball field at the recreation park, a $2,485 purchase for new stools at the Murphy Middle School cafeteria, a $6,500 storage building for Hiwassee Dam School, a $9,973 sprinkler system upgrade for the Murphy High School football field, and a $3,312 infield upgrade at the baseball field at Hiwassee Dam High School.

The budget amendment was approved unanimously.

A ground lease for a Med-Trans air medical transport modular office unit at Western Carolina Regional Airport was discussed by the commissioners. The commissioners reviewed a draft of the lease and Commissioner McKinnon pointed out three issues with which he noted concerns with the lease draft. It was also mentioned that the price of the lease, which would exist through Nov. 30, 2022, should be set at a fair market value instead of $1 per year.

Approval of the lease was tabled until changes to the draft could be made.

A pro-rated contract for legal services from Smith Rodgers, PLLC to the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office was approved. The contract in the amount of $3,645 provides legal consultation services from Feb. 26 through June 30, 2018. At the Feb. 19 commissioners meeting, the board approved for the Sheriff’s Office to enter into a one-year agreement with Smith Rodgers beginning July 1 and approach the legal service with the prospect of establishing a pro-rated contract with Smith Rodgers until the lease takes effect this summer.

Two purchase requests from the Cherokee County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) were approved for the total amount of $6,225. The requests included a purchase of an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) rescue trailer that would transport a patient and a rescuer from a remote location to a waiting ambulance and a purchase of further equipment for the trailer that would allow for better immobilization of a patient placed in the trailer.

Commissioners Gary Westmoreland, pictured, and C.B. McKinnon recently took a trip to Washington D.C. and met with officials at the White House concerning rural infrastructure. (Photo courtesy of Gary Westmoreland)

Commissioners Gary Westmoreland and McKinnon told of their recent trip to Washington D.C. and the White House. Westmoreland said he and McKinnon met Vice President Mike Pence, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson. The commissioners also participated in a meeting involving other North Carolina commissioners concerning infrastructure.

“President (Donald) Trump is going to have – I think – $260 billion in infrastructure money and $50 billion that’s dedicated to rural infrastructure,” Westmoreland said.

In that meeting, the commissioners were told to have a countywide plan for local infrastructure improvements in place by May.

“And this is something that’s new,” Westmoreland said of the meeting. “(Previously) the president’s office would never work with local government. This is something that (Trump) wants to do.”

McKinnon stated he was appreciative of the opportunity saying, “It was a once in a lifetime trip.”

Two upcoming commissioners meeting dates were changed during this week’s meeting. The April 16 meeting was changed to April 23 and the May 7 meeting was rescheduled to May 10 in an effort to accommodate the May 8 primary election and to allow for an evenly balanced meeting schedule, according County Manager Wiggins.

 

Author

Jason Beck

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.

Courthouse dome lantern plans discussed at commissioners meeting

News

MURPHY, N.C. – Restoration plans for the Cherokee County Courthouse lantern were discussed at length by the Board of Commissioners during their Tuesday, Feb. 19 meeting.

Specific action was approved by the board to move the lantern from the Western Carolina Regional Airport to the former Cherokee Well Drilling property located off of U.S. 64.

Of the restoration plans, Commissioner C.B. McKinnon stated, “In the quotes we got, there’s a lot of elaborate work on (the lantern) which is never seen. Nobody knows it’s there. The only people that’s seen it is if you’re brave enough to go up in a basket on the crane … Those decorative items, in my opinion, is what drives the cost up … So, I think this is a nice compromise to get the lantern back on the courthouse and aesthetically looking like it’s always looked.”

McKinnon later described the decorative items in question as a “drapery” base that is nearly flat after Commissioner Cal Stiles expressed concerns over replicating the original design.

“There’s no physical way to see it from the ground,” McKinnon added.

Chairman Dr. Dan Eichenbaum pointed out that welding students from Tri-County Community College (TCCC) would be  assisting with the project, and Vice Chairman Gary Westmoreland stated Charles Carry, welding instructor at TCCC would be overseeing the copper work restoration. Westmoreland further explained that Carry is “one of the best coppermen in western North Carolina.”

Currently, the estimated cost of the restoration work is projected to be around $50,000.

Sheriff Derrick Palmer presented the board with a proposal for legal services for the sheriff’s office. According to Palmer, the legal consultation service, Smith Rodgers PLLC, would be hired at a flat rate of $10,642 a year and the one-year contract would be begin July 1.

County Manager Randy Wiggins explained the service would be used as an enhancement to the county’s own attorney, giving the sheriff’s office 24/7 legal consultation.

“This group does not come out and represent the sheriff’s office in legal suits and things of that nature,” Palmer stated. “That’s for the county attorney. What they do is give that expert consultation when we need an answer right then and we’re calling, writing a search warrant or getting ready to go into someone’s home, we can call and say, ‘This is what we’ve got. What’s your expert opinion on this?'”

Commissioner Stiles explained he believed the service will save the county money in the long run stating, “In all probability, it’s going to cost us $10,000 if we’re having to pay our county attorney, at that point,to give you advice. That would eat into this cost.”

Of the expert consultation, Eichenbaum said, “Any consultation with them is much more efficient because they’ve dealt with it over and over and over again.”

The commissioners unanimously approved Palmer’s proposal with the caveat that Palmer approach Smith Rodgers about a pro-rated contract to take effect immediately until the July 1 contract begins. According to Maria Hass, BOC clerk and assistant county manager, after Palmer contacted Smith Rodgers later in the week, an arrangement was made for legal consultation services to begin Monday, Feb. 26, under a pro-rated contract for the amount of $3,645.

A new Caterpillar D6N dozer tractor for use at the Cherokee County Landfill was purchased by the board for the amount of $323,391.78 from Carolina Caterpillar of Charlotte. Commissioner McKinnon explained plans were previously made to repair the landfill’s existing dozer tractor for an estimated cost of $60,000. After agreements with the repair company fell through, however, the county studied the possibility of purchasing of a used tractor.

“That used tractor had 2,000 hours and it was (around $290,000),” McKinnon said, “and it didn’t have the landfill package on it. So, the used tractor was going to be a lot more than the new tractor by the time you put the landfill package (on it) that keeps the sprockets clear of the garbage and the safety things that go on it. So, that’s how we ended up at a new dozer tractor.”

McKinnon stated the new tractor comes with a five-year warranty. The board unanimously approved the purchase and agreed a future discussion would come as to what to do with the old dozer tractor.

The board approved an agreement for Ralph Robinson, lessee of the Hiwassee Valley Pool and Wellness Center LLC, to reimburse the county for electric and propane costs until the end of the fiscal year (June 30). After that, Robinson will have to negotiate his own contract for these utility services. Currently, the contracts for electric and propane remain with the county for the center.

Commissioners also approved a budget revision for use of the school Half-Cent Sales Tax in the amount of $41,672. The amount, approved by the Board of Education at their Feb. 8 meeting, will fund maintenance and repair costs at Hiwassee Dam, Murphy and Martin’s Creek elementary schools, The Oaks Academy, Andrews Middle School and Murphy High School.

The purchase of a 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe was approved by the board for the sheriff’s office after the department lost the use of a patrol car due to engine failure. The cost of the Tahoe is $31,500 and the funds will be drawn from Sheriff’s Designated Fund balance.

The board approved a budget revision in the amount of $2,619 to purchase 10 animal waste receptacles and supplies for use at the Connahetta Park and Riverwalk area as well as the Andrews Recreation Park. The expenditure is funded from revenue from a North Carolina Community Conservation Assistance Program grant.

A proclamation declaring the 11th Annual Cherokee County Senior Games and Silver Arts Program to take place in Cherokee County April 28 through May 19 was issued by the Board of Commissioners. According to the proclamation, over one-third of the county’s full-time residents are 50 years of age or older, which puts Cherokee as one of the leading counties in the state in this category. The Senior Games and Silver Arts Program are “designed to inspire, motivate, and educate all citizens about their potential for good health and involvement throughout their lives.”

 

[Featured image:  Chairman Dr. Dan Eichenbaum, left, and Commissioners C.B. McKinnon and Cal Stiles vote to accept the agenda for the Monday, Feb. 19, Cherokee County Board of Commissioners meeting as County Manager Randy Wiggins looks on. Not pictured: Commissioners Ray Dickey and Gary Westmoreland.]

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Jason Beck

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.

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