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The regular October meeting of the McDowell County Board of Commissioners was held on Monday at Historic Carson House. Since 1991, the commissioners have held one of their autumn meetings at Historic Carson House, which served as the original seat of county government when McDowell was formed more than 175 years ago.

The McDowell County Animal Shelter will soon operate under different hours in order to make it more convenient for the public and the shelter’s staff alike. In addition, county officials are planning to expand the shelter’s building.

The county animal shelter was one of several topics addressed during the regular October meeting of the McDowell County Board of Commissioners on Monday. Since 1991, the commissioners have held one of their autumn meetings at Historic Carson House, which served as the original seat of county government when McDowell was formed more than 175 years ago.

During the meeting in the house’s dining room, Public Services Director Terry DePoyster asked the commissioners to approve a new schedule of operations for the animal shelter located at 3751 N.C. 226 South. Currently, the shelter is open from Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. It is now open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and closed on Sundays.

Under his request, the shelter would be closed on Mondays. This would provide time for deep cleaning of the kennel areas and allow for any extended medical and behavioral concerns for the animals to be addressed with veterinarians.

With the new schedule, the shelter would be open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Wednesdays. It would be open on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and this would give extended hours for adoptions. It would be open Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For Saturdays, the hours would be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and this would also give extended hours for adoptions. The shelter would be closed on Sundays.

“We would like to extend hours for adoption on Thursdays and Saturdays to give the public more convenient viewing times,” said DePoyster to the commissioners. “Extending hours one night per week will give working families more time to come and see our adoptable pets. Most of the foot traffic we see on Saturdays is from 11 to 1.”

The commissioners approved the new schedule, which takes effect Nov. 1.

DePoyster said the shelter has crossed over the 500 mark for adoptions of cats and dogs and is now closing in on the 600 mark. The county recently hired new staff for the shelter and these energetic employees continue to make improvements there. The local animal rescue groups are helping out tremendously, according to county officials.

The other request from DePoyster focused on making an addition to the shelter’s building. He asked for permission to meet with the architectural firm of Holland & Hamrick about adding an isolation room. This would be a room where sick or stray animals can be treated before they are placed with the others available for adoption. This would prevent the other animals from getting a disease.

The commissioners approved this second request.

In other business, the board held a public hearing about McDowell applying for more state and federal funding for the McDowell Transit System. The county is seeking $363,869 in state and federal money for July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021. The local share would be $44,831.

Transit System Director Randall Conley said this money would be used to purchase new vehicles. The system is also seeking grant funding from the Gateway Wellness Foundation.

The commissioners opened the public hearing. After hearing no comments from the public, the hearing was closed and the board approved seeking the state and federal funding.

Commission Chairman David Walker said he and the other commissioners want this system to become self-sufficient as rapidly as possible.

In other business, the McDowell County Commissioners:

» Recognized Scott Page from West McDowell Middle School for winning the 2018 Southern Mountain Zone Instructor of the Year from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission for the accomplishments of his hunter safety class. Principal Nakia Carson introduced Page and reviewed his accomplishments with the board.

» Approved an incentive plan from Building Inspections Director Jay Suttles. This plan would help the county recruit and retain inspectors.

» Heard an update on the county’s water and sewer projects. Last month, county staff met with engineers on two water projects. The first one is the resumption of the water intake/treatment plant project. The next step with that project is to submit a conveyance application to Duke Energy. An engineer is working on the application and will submit on the county’s behalf within the next few weeks. County staff also met with engineers to talk about water line extensions. The consensus of the engineers is that grant money would be hard to obtain except in extremely rare circumstances. County Manager Ashley Wooten will work with the engineer to bring a recommendation to the board at the regular November meeting.

» Talked again about a backcountry trail program. Last month, the commissioners heard a presentation from Jason McDougald, director of Camp Grier. He discussed a new initiative that would focus on backcountry trail maintenance in the Pisgah National Forest. He is asking for a $20,000 a year commitment from the county for this program. The commissioners agreed to table this matter until they are closer to the budget process.

» Approved a lease renewal for the public defender’s office. Last year, the commissioners approved a one-year lease for office space at the law office of Sharon Parker on West Court Street. The public defender has been using that space since it was made available to them after a brief renovation. Earlier this year, the board authorized the renovation of space below the new courtroom as the new home for the public defender. While that space is nearing completion, it is necessary that the contractor use it for swing space for current courthouse occupants. Therefore, staff recommended that the space on West Court Street be retained for the next year. The lease payment is $930 a month. “We’re required to provide a space for these public defenders,” said Commission Vice Chairman Tony Brown.

» Talked about having the McDowell County Planning Board also act as a Board of adjustment. This is a quasi-judicial board regarding planning rules that hears variance requests, among other things, for several development ordinances. The board of adjustment holds a quasi-judicial hearing in its decision-making process about how planning rules should apply in a particular situation. This hearing involves sworn testimony from the person seeking a variance request or other special action. After a discussion, the commissioners agreed to have a board of adjustment contingent on the advice of the county attorney.

» Approved a series of administrative items and tax matters.

• Discussed the lease of recreational properties on Catawba River Road with the town of Old Fort. Since 2008, the county has maintained the recreational facility along with other county-owned properties. But this lease has expired. The commissioners agreed to table this matter and see what officials with the town of Old Fort would like to do first.

» Approved the temporary closing of a road for the Glenwood Christmas parade, which is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 30.

» Heard an update from Historic Carson House Executive Director Martha Jordan and Chuck Abernathy, chairman of the house’s board, about the ongoing activities at the historic house and museum. Abernathy said there is the consideration of building an interpretive center behind the house but an archaeological survey has to be done first. A final decision has not been made about this proposed project.

After the meeting, the commissioners enjoyed a dinner in the Jubilee Arbor as the guests of the Carson House’s board.

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