Board approves temporary off-site fitness plan for Station 1 first responders

News

MURPHY, N.C. – The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners approved a temporary off-site fitness plan for on-duty emergency personnel at Station 1 at the board’s June 4 meeting.

The plan will now allow only Station 1 personnel to use nearby fitness centers at their own expense while on duty in an effort to improve health and strength of the emergency personnel and provide the best service to citizens, according to information provided by the Cherokee County Emergency Services.

As Chairman Dr. Dan Eichenbaum explained, “(The agreement) is only until they get a new facility. It has been shown this will not cause a delay in response time. Both truck workers must agree and only one truck at a time (may leave Station 1). This is to allow them because they do not have adequate space to work out in (at the station).”

Brian King, of the Cherokee County Emergency Medical Services (EMS), explained to commissioners there has been a “movement” within the department to work out and exercise to increase physical strength and improve job performance over the past five years, but limited space at Station 1 has disallowed its personnel from doing so.

According to information presented to the commissioners from EMS concerning response times for personnel at a fitness center, “Crews are very adept at being able to meet our required chute times during all situations. Any delay would no different than eating showering, using the restroom, being at the hospital, or sleeping.”

Commenting on the benefits of the plan, Commissioner Gary Westmoreland stated, “Personally, I would rather somebody healthy pick me up than somebody out of shape. And I think it’s good for them. It’s good for their morale.”

Commissioner C.B. McKinnon stated while he himself can see the benefits of the plan to the county’s emergency personnel, he is also concerned about public perception.

“I understand that we’ve been in this location for a lot of years and I don’t know what’s been done in the past … but the optics of it – the public just doesn’t understand it. We’ll have the other facility up soon, and for that reason, I’m just not willing to support it,” McKinnon explained.

Ultimately, the board approved the temporary plan 4-1, with McKinnon voting against.

The board also approved a contract with Turner & Company CPAs (certified public accountant) to conduct the county’s fiscal year 2017-18 audit in the amount of $44,900.

County Finance Officer Candy Anderson explained to the commissioners the cost of the audit is the second lowest among seven counties in western North Carolina.

“I checked with surrounding counties … and a lot of them are seeing 12 to 41 percent increases in their audit fees,” Anderson stated.

The contract was approved by the board unanimously.

A capital project ordinance for the phase 5 construction project at the Cherokee County Solid Waste facility in Marble was approved by the commissioners. The ordinance appropriates $2.5 million to the project for permitting, construction, engineering, and contingency funds. According to the ordinance, revenues from the general fund are anticipated to be available to complete the project.

The board approved a number of 2017-18 budget revisions including a revision in the total amount of $31,043 to allow the use of the restricted/designated school sales tax fund balance for various projects. The amount will cover the purchases of a generator replacement at Ranger Elementary School ($19,207), bus cameras and camera systems for five new buses ($4,925), fertilizer for Bermuda turf for the football fields at Andrews and Murphy high schools ($2,653), approximately 225 lbs. of refrigerant for a compressor at Hiwassee Dam School ($2,517), and diagnostic services from Trane ($1,741).

A budget revision in the amount of $800 was approved to transfer funds from the fund balance to the detention center trust account for legal settlements.

A budget revision in the amount of $94.14 was approved to cover half the cost of new carpeting at the Martins Creek Community Center. Previously, the board approved an amount of $261; however, actual costs for the carpeting came to $710.27, which increased the county’s half share to $355.14.

In other business, commissioners also voted to allow Lewis and Clark Circus to again use Heritage Park Sept. 22 and 23 of this year.

The board also voted to allow North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission law enforcement officers to enforce laws concerning spotlighting wildlife from the right-of-way of any public road, street, or highway.

A number of upcoming Board of Commissioners are slated for June. On June 21 and 25, the board will hold fiscal year 2018-19 budget work sessions in the boardroom of the Cherokee County Courthouse at 6:30 p.m. The Board of Commissioners next regularly scheduled meeting is set for June 18 at 6:30 p.m. In addition, the board will have a special called meeting June 28 at 6:30 p.m. to officially adopt the new county budget. All meetings are open to the public.

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

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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 consider opiod litigation

News

MURPHY, N.C. – At its Thursday, May 10, meeting, the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners heard from Garry Whitaker, a Winston-Salem attorney involved with federal litigation against pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors concerning the national opiod epidemic.

Whitaker told commissioners 643 government entities nationwide are apart of the litigation seeking compensation for damages incurred from the opiod epidemic. Of those entities, Whitaker stated, 43 counties and 6 cities were in the state of North Carolina.

Of the opiod problem, Whitaker stated, “It may not be as pervasive as the plague, (but) it is very pervasive. For instance, last year, there was a 40 percent increase in the state of North Carolina in hospital emergency room admissions for overdoses related to opiods.”

According to date presented by Whitaker, since 1999, over 15,000 people have died in North Carolina as a result of opiod overdoses. In that time, 93 opiate poisoning deaths have occurred within Cherokee County alone, with double-digit spikes seen in the years of 2010 and 2011.

“This is a serious problem,” Whitaker stressed.

According to Whitaker, for every 100 persons in Cherokee County, 125 prescriptions were issued in 2016. Whitaker stated the national average for this statistic is 66 prescriptions per 100 persons.

Whitaker explained the litigation group consists of a consortium of six legal teams and firms from throughout the country.

“It is our contention that (pharmaceutical manufacturers) have oversold the benefits and undersold or trivialized the risks (of opiods),” Whitaker stated.

Giving a brief history of opiods and legislative control of the drugs, Whitaker stated in the past opiods were prescribed mainly to cancer and surgery patients and not for chronic pain but that a shift in thought from pharmaceutical companies has contributed to the opiod epidemic.

Whitaker further explained the suit is intended to go after pharmaceutical companies only and not individual doctors or pharmacies, saying that this prospect is simply not feasible.

After a series of questions about the suit from County Attorney Darryl Brown, no decision was made by the commission whether or not to move forward with joining the litigation.

Cherokee County Tax Assessor Eddie Allen presented commissioners with bids for the county’s 2020 property revaluation. According to Allen, the revaluation will fulfill the state mandate that all counties update appraisals for all parcels within the county every eight years. Cherokee County contains approximately 33,000 parcels  of property, Allen added.

Allen told the commissioners bid proposals were sent to all 15 appraisal firms except one that are approved by the North Carolina Department of Revenue. Of those, only two firms – C.B. Ferriss, Inc. and Tanner Valuation Group, LLC – submitted bids to the county. A third firm submitted a bid but withdrew that bid from consideration.

Allen recommended C.B. Ferriss for overseeing and managing the revaluation, saying if he had to hand-pick one of the 15 state-approved firms beforehand, it would have been C.B. Ferriss. The C.B. Ferriss bid of $220,000 would include appraisal of commercial and industrial properties, assistance to the county through the appeal process, training of the Cherokee County Tax Assesssor staff, and continual reports to the county manager.

Allen stated it was important to train staff, so that the county could save money with an in-house revaluation in the future. Commissioners unanimously awarded the project to C.B. Ferriss.

Captain Mark Patterson, of the Cherokee County Detention Center, presented a capital items request to use revenues in the amount of $279,650 for a number items to be used by the detention center.

Prior to Patterson explaining the request to the board, Eichenbaum stated, “I think this should be tabled to part of the (2018-19 fiscal year) budget discussions, and I also feel it should part of the Sheriff’s Office budget discussions.”

“I think we ought to hear him out and see what the request is,” Commissioner Roy Dickey said.

According to Patterson, the request covers the purchase of two 2018 Chevrolet Tahoes and equipment, a new transport van and equipment, a new transport car and equipment, a road crew truck, a fingerprint machine, a kitchen fryer and steamer, radios, 14 bulletproof vests, 14 Glock pistols and holsters, ammunition, a Fort Knox gun safe, and HVAC units. Patterson also told commissioners the detention center is over its projected revenue of $750,000 for the year and stated by the end of the 2017-18 fiscal year, revenues should be close to $1.2 million.

When the board asked Patterson what were the most critical items within the request, Patterson stated the fingerprint machine ($21,000), the bulletproof vests ($8,100), the weapons ($6,800), and the ammunition ($3,300) were the most critical.

“My personal opinion is we ought to do it all tonight,” Dickey said. “We’ve got the revenue here.”

After further discussion, Commissioner C.B. McKinnon then made a request to purchase only those four line items of the request so as to allow more time to research the request further, particularly the vehicle purchases, which accounted for the bulk of the request. After a second from Eichenbaum, the motion failed 2-3 with Eichenbaum and McKinnon voting in favor.

“And I guess we need to state why (the motion failed),” Commissioner Cal Stiles said. “I think maybe we need to look at it more in its entirety … We just keep picking out individual items here, and I think they do need those items.”

After a motion by Dickey to approve the entire request and a second by Commissioner Gary Westmoreland, the request was approved 4-1 with McKinnon voting against.

In his county manager report, Wiggins presented a proposal of the 2018-19 budget to commissioners. According to the recommended proposed budget, the total county budget would be $44,212,558.00, which would include a general fund balance of $38,083,967 and a special revenue fund of $6,128,591. Wiggins stated the county would continue with a budget work session Wednesday, May 30, at 5 p.m. and a public hearing on the budget during the regular commissioners meeting Monday, May 21, at 6:30 p.m.

Copies of the budget, Wiggins said, will be posted at both libraries in Murphy and Andrews, at the county manager’s office, and on the county website.

Commissioners approved four budget revisions Thursday including a $722,884 budget revision to purchase a new CAT compactor for the county landfill. Chairman Dr. Dan Eichenbaum explained that the county had put aside $578,584 over the past few years in a designated fund in anticipation of the purchase. The compactor, according to County Manager Randy Wiggins, comes with included servicing and a five-year warranty.

A budget revision for $68,295 was also approved for the purchase of new scales for the county landfill. Wiggins explained the current scales at the landfill can no longer be calibrated and the new scales are expected to be installed sometime before the end of June and on a weekend. With the request, an additional amount of $12,500 was approved in the case that the county has to use rental scales while the new scales are being installed.

A budget revision for $16,755 was approved to purchase a used 2014 Dodge Charger for the Sheriff’s Office. Finance Director Candy Anderson explained the vehicle will replace another vehicle that was damaged in a recent chase and the $16,755 is money the county received from insurance claims.

 

 

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

 

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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.

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.

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