During the regular Monday meeting, the McDowell County Commissioners approved a fixed route for the Marion area as part of the new transit system.

McDowell Transit Director Randall Conley presented the commissioners with a recommended route for their review and approval. This route serves the major multi-family developments and commercial areas of the Marion area.

The stops on the route for the Marion include: Mission Hospital McDowell, McDowell Medical Park, the McDowell Health Department, Spaulding Woods Apartments, Walmart, McDowell Medical Associates, McDowell Internal Medicine, Kay Express, the Historic Marion Tailgate Market, Marion Pharmacy, Heritage Hills Apartments, the Hook and Anchor, NCWorks, the Kwik Mart (Greasy Corner), Capitol Hill Apartments, McDowell Department of Social Services, the Friendship Home for Women and Children, Bi-Lo, Fred’s, M&M Supermarket, Black Bear General Store, Food Lion, Shelba’s Place, Blue Ridge Terrace Apartments, the House of James and the Corpening Memorial YMCA.

The fixed route is covered by Rural General Public funding from the N.C. Department of Transportation.

After reviewing the list, the commissioners approved the recommended route.

“Here again, another piece in the puzzle of moving McDowell County forward,” said Commission Chairman David Walker.

Conley said to The McDowell News that the route is still not finalized though. He will present it to the Marion City Council for consideration next. The vehicles should start operating on this route sometime in mid-January or early February.

In addition, the commissioners adopted the system safety plan for the fledgling McDowell Transit. This document is more than 200 pages.

For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/pg/McDowellCountyTransit/about/?ref=page_internal

At the beginning of Monday’s meeting, the commissioners went about the business of selecting a new chairman and vice chairman. This takes place after a commission election. Last month, Walker and Commissioner Tony Brown were re-elected and Commissioner Brenda Vaughn was elected in her own right to the board.

Vice Chairman Barry McPeters nominated Walker to remain as the chairman and this was passed unanimously. McPeters next nominated Brown to replace him as the vice chairman and this was passed unanimously.

In addition, the commissioners heard a presentation from the Route 70 Cruisers and their activities. They hold fund-raising events throughout the year and then donate the money raised to worthy community causes. Phillip Poe with the Route 70 Cruisers said his organization has raised more than $51,000, all of which has gone back to the local community.

In other business, the McDowell County Commission:

• Talked again about the no-wake zone request around the Olde Wildlife Club area at Lake James. The board held a public hearing at the Nov. 19 meeting to receive public comment regarding the no-wake zone request. They voted to table the request at that time in order for any interested board members to visit the area for a better understanding. Brown said Monday he’s heard since last month from a lot of sportsmen and fishing enthusiasts who want to comment about this matter. The board agreed to hold a second public hearing in January before taking final action. If the commissioners approve the request, it will be presented at the next possible meeting of the Wildlife Resources Commission.

• Talked again about the proposed shooting range for McDowell. N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission staff members have visited the site numerous times over the last few months for environmental studies and inspections, said County Manager Ashley Wooten. He added the federal funding for this project requires a non-federal match. State officials have said they would like to receive a donation of a portion of the property in order to count that value towards the match. An official with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission said he like to meet after Christmas in order to review the appraisal of the county-owned property and to discuss other aspects of the project.

• Heard an update about the Stacy Hill Road water project, which is nearing completion. There are only a few remaining items on the list with the major item being the installation of the new master meter on U.S. 70. Once the meter is in place, the customers east of the meter will transfer from the city to county billing. The county staff has provided information to residents along the new water line with information on how to connect. The commissioners have previously agreed to waive tap fees for the six-month period after the line is completed.

• Designated William Kehler and Alison Bell as agents to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the N.C. Emergency Management on storm reimbursements.

• Donated the badge and sold the sidearm for $1 to Jackie Turner Jr., who is retiring from the Sheriff’s Office.

• Talked about the sale of county-owned property on Lake James. About 15 years ago, the county paid $171,000 for 65.82 acres on Forest Lake Heights for a planned water treatment plant. However, the site was deemed unsuitable for that purpose due to lake level restrictions created by Duke, after the purchase of the property. Over the years, there have been several offers for the property. The latest offer is $110,000, less than the original $171,000 from 15 years ago. The commissioners agreed that they would consider a minimum offer of $175,000 for that land.

• Announced the Christmas and New Year’s Day schedule. The county offices will be closed Dec. 24, 25 and 26 for Christmas and Jan. 1 for New Year’s Day. Several county departments will be operating throughout the holiday period or for most of it. Those departments include EMS, Sheriff’s Office and Public Works.

• Continued their annual tradition of sending Christmas greetings to the McDowell County community through McD TV. As in years past, McPeters read the Christmas story from the gospel of St. Luke, which describes the birth of Jesus. The commissioners urged local residents to remember the meaning of Christmas. These messages will be sent out through local cable TV systems and online.

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