The Haywood County Board of Commissioners met on Nov. 7 for its regular twice-monthly meeting. Here are a few of the highlights.
After a successful fundraising campaign and several major grants, work can begin on a developing a teaching farm at Tuscola High School that can be used by students from around the region.
Haywood Schools Superintendent Trevor Putnam thanked the commissioners for their $50,000 grant, as well as Haywood County Farm Bureau for its $25,000 contribution and Dogwood Trust for a $220,000 donation. The school system will also tap $65,000 in its own funding, namely a state sales tax allocation earmarked for school capital projects.
Putnam said WNC Paving was the low bidder at $137,000 to start on paving work, leaving the $220,000 from the Dogwood Trust for the structure.
“I’m not sure that would be sufficient for completion of the barn,” Putnam said, warning that more funds may need to be appropriated.
Putnam asked the commissioners to release $65,000 from its capital project fund. The board approved the request.
Putnam said the funding from the Dogwood Trust, a regional philanthropic trust fund created from the proceeds from the sale of Mission Health, came with a caveat to work with seven other western counties so they could be part of the learning opportunities afforded by the farm. The farm will be located on a 10-acre tract adjacent to Tuscola’s entrance road.
Commissioner Jennifer Best asked about the Pisgah High School farm that was impacted by Tropical Storm Fred. Putnam said no funds have been set aside for that and the Tuscola farm would be available for Pisgah students. FEMA funding is available to repair the fences lost during the flooding at the Pisgah farm, he added.
The county ambulance fleet is in dire need of updating, but due to supply chain issues, the county has had trouble finding vehicles.
Haywood County Emergency Service Director Travis Donaldson requested permission to purchase four chassis cabs during the current fiscal year, an action that would allow the county to jump the line in supply chain delays down the road.
While the ambulances themselves wouldn’t come on line until 2024, pre-ordering the chassis now means the county would have them in hand when for vendors to build the ambulances with and hopefully avoid delays by waiting in line at a dealership later.
“We’re trying to get ahead of this,” Donaldson said. Each unit costs $68,256, and the board approved $273,000 for the units. The expense will represent a reduction in the bid price when the actual ambulances are ordered.
The end is sight for an effort to update the 911 communications towers that began in 2020.
“The end result will be better service to our citizens,” said Haywood County Chief Deputy Jeff Haynes.
Haynes, along with Mobile Communications America Project Manager Will Roberts, told commissioners the five-site simulcast tower upgrade is almost complete. It will take another 6 to 8 weeks to get the new equipment in in place before phase one of the project can be closed out. Phase 2 includes installing a sixth tower site.
“It’s a long, costly project, said Rogers. “It will make it better for first responders.
North Canton Fire Department Chief Steve Kelley custom asked the board to approve a financing contract to purchase a $359,000 brush truck for the department. It will take 554 days to build the truck, which will be able to navigate narrow roads and tight spaces to fight fires.
With a capacity to hold 400 gallons of water, the truck will be certified for use in structure fires as well and can become part of the rated fleet for inspection and insurance purposes, Kelley said.