Commissioners also hear updates on Wittenburg Access Area improvements, sewer grant, COVID-19, budget
Construction will begin soon on the new Courthouse Park as the Alexander County Board of Commissioners approved a bid for the project at their Monday, April 26, meeting.
David Icenhour, Executive Director for the Alexander County Economic Development Corporation, recommended the low bid submitted by Lail Builders, Inc. of Hickory totaling $609,560. (It was noted that Lail Builders, Inc. is not associated with Commissioner Josh Lail.)
The Alexander County park project will consist of grading, site work, landscaping, sidewalks, and a performance stage on county property located at 131 West Main Avenue in downtown Taylorsville.
The Taylorsville Rotary Club has raised $63,276 to assist with construction of the stage, in addition to $4,000 for stage design. County and Rotary leaders are currently negotiating an agreement which, if approved by both parties, would result in the stage being officially named “Rotary Performance Stage.”
Icenhour said construction should begin in late May with completion within four to five months.
“We’re excited and proud to be adding a new Alexander County park for our citizens and visitors to enjoy,” said Larry Yoder, Chairman. “This park will be something that will generate entertainment and commerce for generations to come. I would also like to thank the Taylorsville Rotary Club for their contribution to the performance stage. I look forward to enjoying a concert at the park.”
In other business:
• Commissioners awarded a bid to Kemp Sigmon Construction Company in the amount of $90,000 for the construction of a 20-space parking lot at Wittenburg Access Area. The parking lot will primarily serve as an access to a new nature trail that the county plans to create.
Alexander County signed a 40-year lease on the park with Duke Energy to provide additional recreation opportunities, and plans have been developed to add a variety of amenities. Duke Energy has plans for a swim beach, restrooms, picnic areas, and more. Alexander County plans to create a nature trail and the associated parking lot at the county park.
• Icenhour reported that Alexander County was awarded a Golden LEAF Foundation grant of $193,776 to expand an existing wastewater system in the Alexander Industrial Park. The grant will provide sewer service to Industrial Timber, and also provides sewer infrastructure to other property in the industrial park. The county issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) for engineering services for the project. Commissioners approved West Consultants, PLLC, to serve as engineer for the project.
In addition, Icenhour said that Industrial Timber has received an NC Commerce Building Reuse Grant of $80,000 to expand their building. The company plans to invest approximately $1 million in equipment and has pledged 10 new jobs.
• Leeanne Whisnant, Consolidated Human Services Director, presented a COVID-19 update to the board. She said the county has not experienced a spike in cases since the Easter break. The health department has conducted a total 2,236 COVID-19 tests. In April, 62 tests have been administered with only four positive cases at the health department.
Whisnant said there was one COVID-related death last month for a total of 86 deaths. Hospitalizations remain stable, with five people currently in the hospital. Health staff have been working on COVID-19 casework and submitting updated information to the state. The health department has tallied a total of 4,267 cases while the NCDHHS dashboard shows a total of 4,322 cases, as the dashboard currently contains duplicates.
She said the health department has administered 12,981 doses of vaccine, while all providers in the county total 19,393 doses (10,636 first doses, 8,757 fully vaccinated).
“We’ve definitely seen vaccinations slow down, even before the Johnson & Johnson concerns,” Whisnant said. “We continue to encourage citizens to get vaccinated.”
The county plans to reopen the Alexander Senior Center the week of May 3, which will provide local senior adults with some social interaction, games, and exercise, all while continuing to wear masks and maintaining social distance.
The health department plans to resume its regular clinics in May.
• The Commissioners approved a request from the Alexander County Historic Preservation Committee (HPC) to submit an application to the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office to become designated as a Certified Local Government (CLG). If approved, the certification would allow the county to participate in the national framework of historic preservation programs. CLGs in North Carolina are eligible to compete for a portion of the money received from the federal Historic Preservation Fund. The purpose of the HPC is to identify and preserve cultural and historic resources for the citizens of Alexander County.
• County Manager Rick French provided a brief overview of the proposed 2021-2022 county budget, which will be formally presented at the May 10th meeting. Departmental requests total $48,009,438 while revenues total $41,174,260. The approved budget for 2020-2021 totaled $42,892,442, but currently stands at $48,131,832 due to CARES Act funds, an increase in sales tax revenues, budget amendments, etc. French said the three largest budget requests were submitted by the sheriff’s office, DSS, and health department. The proposed budget includes 20 new employees, with eight EMS employees, six sheriff’s office employees, and six employees in various departments. French said he hopes to have the proposed budget in the $45 million range by the time it is presented on May 10.
• In the County Manager’s Report, French said the NC Department of Transportation has submitted an early conceptual design for NC Hwy. 16 from US Hwy. 64 to Catawba County. The project, which totals $75.8 million, isn’t funded until 2029.
The Alexander County Board of Commissioners typically meets on the first Monday of each month at 6:00 p.m. in Room #103 at the CVCC Alexander Center for Education; however, the next meeting is set for Monday, May 10, at 6:00 p.m. at CVCC. Regular meetings are recorded, and can be viewed on the county’s Government Channel on Spectrum channel 192 or on the county’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/alexandercountync. Meeting agendas, minutes, videos, and more are available on the county’s website at www.alexandercountync.gov/commissioners.