Commission agrees to fund match for assistance

Photo by Kristen Luther
Jo Ann Blankenship, center, made a motion on Monday for Carter County to adopt "pride" as its 2005 motto. She also suggested appointing a "pride committee" comprised of members of the City of Elizabethton, City of Watuaga, Carter County and the Chamber of Commerce to promote this theme.

By Lesley Hughes
star staff

  Carter County commissioners sailed through a relatively smooth meeting on Monday morning as they nominated, elected and appointed members to committees and boards and heard requests for money earmarked for recent flood damage in Elk Mills.
  Due to recent flooding in Elk Mills and Poga, the highway department has endured a substantial hit to its budget, according to Highway Superintendent Jack Perkins. After the remnants of Hurricane Ivan hit Carter County, several roads across the county were damaged, but Atley Brown Road in the Poga community sustained heavy damage due to the raging waters of the Elk River, which washed away large chunks of pavement and one section of the road completely.
  Perkins originally estimated the work to repair Atley Brown Road at $200,000, but now he believes the repair to that road could cost $300,000. Although federal emergency assistance is available, Perkins estimates Carter County will have to match 12-and-a-half percent, or $37,000. Before speaking with Federal Emergency Management Agency and Tennessee Emergency Management Agency representatives tomorrow, Perkins asked the full court to agree to funding whatever the matching portion is. He estimated $37,000 would be the matching percentage, but he could not give a guaranteed figure until FEMA surveys the damage.
  Perkins said, "If I can get an OK, I will tell FEMA that we will come up with our 12-and-a-half percent. I would like to know today. If we don't come up with 12-and-a-half percent, then I will come up with it some way, if I have to shut some of it down."
  Commissioner Jerry Pearman made the motion and all commissioners agreed to fund the portion of matching funds determined by the FEMA survey. The vote on the motion was unanimous. "We will give you a figure sometime this week when FEMA and TEMA gets through," Perkins said.
  Another request for money came from the budget committee which encouraged commissioners to approve $3,500 to be used to start repairing Elk Mills Community Park, which sustained significant amounts of damage in recent floods. Wayne Holtsclaw, budget committee chairman, told the full court that some neighbors had the equipment and means to begin repairing some of the damaged areas before requested federal assistance is approved or received. The motion was approved.
  Commissioner Jo Ann Blankenship made a motion to adopt "pride" as Carter County's motto for the 2005 year. She also included in her motion for County Mayor Dale Fair to create a "Pride Committee" to implement and promote the theme with appointed members from the city of Elizabethton, city of Watauga, Chamber of Commerce, and Carter County. The non-paid committee was approved by the full court.
  Before the idea was approved, Commissioner John Lewis said improvements need to be made around the Carter County Courthouse. "It is a shame we have all these prisoners in the jail and grass growing in the flower beds. We need a billy goat out here to eat the grass out of the flower beds," Lewis said.
  Most of the meeting consisted of making nominations for expired and vacant seats on several committees and boards. Doug Buckles will serve on the Budget, Nominating, Legal, Industry, and Reapportionment Committee. Lawrence Hodge will serve on the Rules and By-Laws, Building and Grounds, Law Enforcement, Health and Welfare, Sanitation, and Recreation Committee. Lawrence Hodge was added to the Beer Board and the Jail Inspection Committee. Jack Buckles replaced the vacant position from Chuck Culler on the Tax Committee. Jo Ann Blankenship and Jim Whaley were added to the Records Committee. John D. Snyder, Jo Ann Blankenship, Jack Buckles, and Al Meehan were nominated and appointed to the Financial Management Committee.
  In other business, Commissioner Dickie Renfro motioned to do away with the Rules and By-Laws stating that the vote to adjourn a meeting needed to be done by a roll call vote. The motion was approved 16-6. Commissioners were able to see this motion in effect at the end of the meeting when they voiced their vote unanimously and simultaneously.