ALEXANDER COUNTY, NC (April 13, 2021) – The Golden LEAF Foundation has awarded two grants that will benefit Alexander County. County Manager Rick French announced the grants at the April 12 meeting of the Alexander County Board of Commissioners.
One grant of $193,776 was awarded to the county to extend wastewater infrastructure in the Alexander Industrial Park that would support expansion at Industrial Timber. The furniture frame manufacturer will create 10 new jobs and add approximately $1.2 million in private investment. The project will also increase the marketability of an additional industrial site in the park.
The second grant of $460,000 was awarded to Catawba Valley Community College for equipment and software to support expanded training at the CVCC Alexander Applied Technologies Center for current and future industrial systems and mechatronics technicians for local, high-demand jobs.
“We’re thankful for Golden LEAF’s contributions to Alexander County, both now and in the past,” said Larry Yoder, Chairman of the Alexander County Board of Commissioners. “These grants will benefit a local industry, enhance the industrial park, and provide educational opportunities for high-demand jobs.”
In other business:
• Gary Herman, Public Information Officer, presented an update on the wireless broadband expansion project. He said the project is a public-private partnership between Alexander County and Open Broadband. The $388,000 total cost will be split 50/50, with the county’s portion being $194,000. He said phase one work is now underway and phase two development is ongoing. New equipment will be installed on the Linney’s Mountain tower, as well as a tower on Willie McLeod Road and Moore Mountain. Phase one will provide broadband to an estimated 650 homes. Phase two will focus on eastern Alexander County. Those interested in becoming a customer should join the waiting list at www.openbb.net/alexanderco.
* Commissioners by a margin of 3-2 rejected a resolution by a vote requesting partisan filing for the now non-partisan Alexander County Board of Education.
Commissioners Ronnie Reese and Josh Lail voted for the proposal.
• County Manager Rick French presented an update on future improvements at Wittenburg Access Area in Bethlehem. He said Duke Energy will add a 250-person swim beach, bathrooms, and picnic area. Alexander County will add a parking lot and a one-mile hiking trail as part of the park upgrade. Bids for the parking lot have been opened and a recommendation will be presented to commissioners at their April 26th meeting.
• Gary Herman also presented an update on local roads that were impacted by the flooding in November 2020. He reported that Sulphur Springs Road, Sloan Road, Hopewell Church Road, and one segment of Berea Church Quincy Road are now open. The contract for the repair to Old Wilkesboro Road will be awarded in mid-May, with completion by late July. Replacement of the bridge on Cheatham Ford Road is expected to be complete by the end of the year. Repairs on the remainder of the closed roads should be complete by late May or earlier, including Cheatham Ford Road, 2535 Rocky Springs Road, Macedonia Church Road, Rocky Face Church Road, Berea Church Quincy Road, Lackey Mountain Road, and Jud Smith Road. Herman expressed his appreciation to NCDOT Division 12 for their hard work and communications efforts.
• County Manager French presented information about the emergency watershed protection program, which will help clean up debris in streams which occurred due to Hurricanes Zeta and Eta in late 2020. The Alexander County Soil & Water Conservation District applied for and was awarded a grant from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to remove stream debris from three sites where the debris has the potential to create an emergency hazard in the next storm event if not removed. The total estimated project construction cost is $79,500, which includes 75 percent from the NRCS and a 25 percent local match. French said the state is paying the local match, which will save the county $19,875. The county has requested a proposal for technical assistance from the Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG). The NRCS grant can also pay up to $11,925 for this type of technical assistance in addition to the construction funds.
• County Manager French reported that “regular” sales tax revenues received through March 2021 totaled $3,677,642.86, which is 20.04 percent higher than this time last year. “New” sales tax revenues (earmarked for economic development, public education, and community colleges) totaled $985,752.13, which is a 3.73 percent increase.
• Josh Mitchell, Public Works and Facilities Director, presented information on the upcoming Household Hazardous Waste and Document Destruction Day. The event, which is held every other year, is set for Saturday, May 1 from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in the parking lot of the county administration building. This event provides county residents an opportunity to correctly dispose of environmentally-harmful materials found around the home and personal documents, in a safe and environmentally-friendly manner. Farmers can also participate and dispose of insecticides, herbicides, and more.
• Josh Mitchell also encouraged citizens, businesses, organizations, and churches to volunteer for NC Litter Sweep, which runs from April 10-24. He noted that NCDOT has been cleaning some local roadsides, but the public’s help is needed to keep Alexander County beautiful. Volunteers are provided cleanup supplies, such as reversible orange/blue trash bags, gloves, and orange safety vests from the local NCDOT County Maintenance Yard office. To get supplies from Alexander County DOT, contact Jackie Burgess at (828) 632-2164. Once the local DOT has been contacted, they will have the appropriate amount of supplies ready for you to pick up and begin your Litter Sweep project. Learn more about Litter Sweep at www.ncdot.gov/littersweep.
• Gary Herman also presented information about the upcoming Alexander County 24-Hour race to be held May 1-2 beginning at 8:00 a.m. at the Alexander Central High School track. The event is sanctioned by USA Track and Field as a last-chance qualifier for the USATF 24-hour national team. The race is limited to 50 participants. To date, runners are coming from 18 different states. Herman said it is possible that some national or world records will be broken at this event. County staff will follow COVID protocols to ensure the safety of all runners, and will provide an aid station for refreshments.
The Alexander County Board of Commissioners 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, April 26 at 6:00 p.m. at the county administration building. 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.