Commissioners reiterate assist of equal rights, approve bid for Center Fork Greenway challenge | Information
BOONE – The Watauga County Board of Commissioners met on Tuesday, March 16, reaffirming its commitment to promoting a welcoming Watauga as well as overseeing other board business.
The meeting opened with a message from the board when Chairman John Welch said the board had heard from other citizens that Watauga should follow the guidelines of others in advocating a non-discriminatory district. They reaffirmed their commitment through a statement Welch read at the meeting.
“The Watauga County Board of Commissioners recognizes that everyone has the right to equal rights and freedoms under the law, regardless of race, color, gender, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, language, disability, marital status, religion , political beliefs, family / parental status, national and social origin and other identifying aspects. However, the county also recognizes that its citizens and visitors are still vulnerable to discrimination while dealing with many aspects of life, including education, housing, healthcare, employment and the use of public spaces, ”the statement said.
The board’s message also states that Watauga County, as a government agency, employs over 300 people and governs more than 56,177 citizens, while receiving hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.
“The county prides itself on having practices that do not tolerate discrimination and will continue to strongly support the protection of all people from indifference to discrimination within its borders,” the county message reads. “With this confirmation, the county hopes to send a message that it is committed to creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for residents, students, visitors, investors, volunteers, employees and subcontractors, vendors, partners and the like without fear of discrimination . “
The board then received a presentation from Jennifer Greene, Director of Health at AppHealthCare, who was briefed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Greene told the board that Watauga is still trending in the right direction, but until the pandemic ends, the fight against it must continue.
According to Greene, 21 percent of Watauga County was partially vaccinated while 15 percent was fully vaccinated. She noted that North Carolina will begin giving vaccines to members of the fourth phase starting Wednesday March 17, which will open the door to large numbers of people to receive protection.
“So if you’ve waited a while, it won’t be long,” Greene said. “Group 4 starts with people between the ages of 16 and 64 who have a chronic health condition. I’ll say you might be surprised at what could put you at higher risk. Things like obesity and smoking, either now or in the past, can put you at greater risk. So these are the conditions under which you are now eligible for a vaccine. I encourage people to check out all of the vaccination providers and find out where to get your vaccine. “
Commissioner Billy Kennedy asked Greene if she and AppHealthCare had seen much opposition to the vaccines. Greene noted that the vaccines had been pushed back, mainly due to the spread of disinformation on social media.
Welch said people need to trust experts, not just unverified information on social media. He received a vaccine less than a week ago.
“I got my vaccine (March 12th) at the Holmes Convocation Center on campus,” Welch said. “I did it in honor of my mother-in-law, who unfortunately could not overcome her fight with COVID-19 for a vaccine. People need to remember the half a million people who failed to get a vaccine so we can avoid having more of it. “
Next on the board was a request from the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office to approve the purchase of five new radios. The radios were priced at $ 7,768.75 each and a total of $ 38,843. The board of directors unanimously approved the purchase.
Joe Furman, Watauga’s Director of Planning and Inspection, submitted proposals to the Board for Section 4 of the Middle Fork Greenway Project. Furman said there were four bids and JW Hamptons $ 1,605,420 was the lowest. He added that funds were available for the offering and all that needed to be done was get the board to approve it, which they were doing unanimously.
The board also approved a proclamation calling April 2021 “North Carolina 811 Safe Digging Month”. With the indication of the month, the commissioners wanted to remind people to call 811 before digging so that the area can be checked for important underground items such as water pipes and power lines.
During county manager Deron Geouque’s announcements, he noted that the Watauga Community Recreation Center will hold a private, gentle opening on April 23rd. He noted that local and state representatives and well-known personalities from the Watauga area had been invited along with the commissioners.
He also reminded the board and onlookers that Watauga County Parks and Recreation will host a Bunny Trail Parade on Sunday, March 28, from 2:00 pm to 2:00 pm at the new recreation center.
The meeting closed shortly before 7 p. M