Commissioners discuss having volunteers at animal shelter


Representatives from some of the animal welfare groups have said they would like to volunteer at the shelter and help critters like Buddy.

On Monday, the McDowell County Commissioners talked again about allowing volunteers to help out with the county’s animal shelter.

In recent months, representatives from some of the animal welfare groups have said they would like to volunteer with the running of the shelter. The board asked county staff to develop guidelines for volunteers there.

The shelter’s staff recommended that two training sessions of several hours should take place before volunteers can start at the shelter. The first session would be focused on sanitation and cleaning with the second session moving onto animal care.

“Staff feels that it is important for anyone working in the shelter to have an understanding of why sanitation is necessary before they move onto other items,” reads a memo from County Manager Ashley Wooten.

Other counties like Yadkin have a program where volunteers help out at the animal shelter and they have been successful.

“This is not reinventing the wheel,” said Wooten on Monday.

County officials also discussed having a minimum age of 12 as long as they are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. “There has been a discussion on a minimum age otherwise being either 16 or 18,” reads Wooten’s memo.

Apparently, most shelters allow for 16-year-old volunteers, according to county officials.

Commission Chairman David Walker said he was concerned about having volunteers younger than 18 being there because of the presence of controlled substances at the shelter.

Other commissioners felt differently.

“I don’t think we should limit it to 18 and older,” said Commissioner Tony Brown.

“We need to offer our young people more opportunities to volunteer. It keeps them out of trouble,” said Commissioner Lynn Greene.

Commission Vice Chairman Barry McPeters said he thought the shelter should involve youth volunteers but he wanted to “make sure it doesn’t become a babysitting service.”

Walker added he would feel more comfortable if the county attorney looks at the proposal.

The item will be on the agenda again for the June regular meeting.

In other business, the McDowell County Commission:

• Proclaimed Saturday, May 19 as Kids to Parks Day for McDowell County.

• Recognized Sheriff Dudley Greene upon his retirement. As part of the recognition, the commissioners authorized the sale of his badge and sidearm so it could be presented to him. Walker also read a resolution of appreciation for Greene’s 25 years of service in law enforcement and his 10 years as sheriff.

• Held a public hearing about the use of state and federal money for McDowell’s new transportation department. County staff has worked to prepare for the separation of the transportation function from McDowell DSS. After hearing no comments from the public, the board agreed to use the state and federal money. The commissioners asked Director Randall Conley how he and his staff like the new offices at Foothills Industries for the transportation department. “We’re really liking it,” said Conley.

• Heard a report from Senior Planner Stephen Bzomowski about the new Isothermal Regional Bicycle Plan. It is a plan for all four counties in the Isothermal region to promote bicycle use. Most of the plan focuses on using planned trails and considering bicycle use in future road-planning decisions. After hearing his report, the board voted to endorse the plan.

• Talked again about the proposed shooting range for McDowell. The county is still waiting on state approval by the Wildlife Resources Commission.

• Talked again about the Stacy Hill Road water line effort. County officials opened the bids on the Stacy project on Wednesday, May 9 but the bids were higher than the anticipated. The engineer then split the project for the rebid. The base bid would construct the line to about Candee Acres. The alternate would then go from Candee Acres to U.S. 70. County officials had the option to rebid the project and shrink the scope once again or just award the low bid. The EPA funding will expire at the end of the calendar year if not expended, so a rebid might not be possible at this point. “It’s my opinion we move on with it,” said Brown. The board directed staff to secure financing for the project. The county will move forward once approval is received from the grant agency.

• Heard another report about the courthouse project, which started in earnest on April 23. The primary focus of the contractor at this point is the removal of the concrete slabs on the first and second level of the parking decks. Most of the work is taking place after hours. The impact to parking has been fairly minimal at this point. Employees in both buildings have been very cooperative and understanding as the project has progressed, said Wooten. The work continues to move some county staff to the lower level of the Senior Center.

• Talked more about the replacement of the bridge at the Spaulding Road greenway. The county is working with the engineering firm of Headwaters Engineering to do the design, permitting, and construction management. Construction will take a couple of weeks once a contractor has been selected. “Our staff has built a temporary bridge but we definitely want to do a permanent fix,” said Wooten.

• Appointed Kelly Solesby and Michael Thomas to the Library Board of Trustees. Brigette Walters was appointed to the McDowell Tourism Development Authority in the category of under 50-room lodging property. Bruce Brown was appointed to the McDowell TDA under the category of tourism-related businesses.

• Talked about the issue of panhandling, which was added to the agenda at the request of Chairman Walker. He said there have been complaints about panhandlers harassing people at some exits on Interstate 40. The board agreed to refer this matter to the Planning Board.

• Talked about changes to the law about fox hunting and trapping in McDowell. At this time, foxes cannot legally be trapped or hunted. This matter was referred to the Planning Board for review and a local legislation would need to be passed in the General Assembly.

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