Newsletter of the High Country Council of Governments Vol. 36 / Issue 1 / May 2016
New Officers Elected During the March 2016 Executive Board meeting, members elected new officers for the 2016-2018 term. Learn more about our current slate of officers and get to know our newly elected Chair, Brenda Lyerly.
Also in this issue . . .
Life Saved on Beech Three lauded as heroes
Care Transitions Summit AAA planning first ever summit in September 2016
New HCCOG Finance Officer Get to know Shane Fox
Two Towns Receive Grants Elk Park and Seven Devils receive PARTF Grants
Workforce Director Changes Adrian Tait departs; Misty Bishop-Price serves as interim
Workforce Success Story Turning a layoff into a new career
2015â€“2016 Executive Board Chairman: Brenda Lyerly Vice-Chair: Johnny Riddle Secretary: Chris Jones Treasurer: Valerie Jaynes Minority Representative Paul L. Robinson, Jr. Alleghany County Tom Smith, Chair, Commissioner Chris Jones, Councilman, Sparta Ashe County Dale Baldwin, Mayor, West Jefferson Mark Johnston, Alderman, Jefferson Brien Richardson, Commissioner Michelle Slaton, Alderwoman, Lansing Avery County Valerie Jaynes, Mayor, Newland Gunther JĂśchl, Mayor Pro Tem, Sugar Mountain Brenda Lyerly, Mayor, Banner Elk Rick Miller, Mayor, Beech Mountain Maxine Laws, Vice Chair, Commissioner Tudor Vance, Mayor, Crossnore Joel Whitley, Alderman, Elk Park Mitchell County Darla Harding, Mayor, Spruce Pine Bill Slagle, Commissioner Charles Vines, Mayor, Bakersville Watauga County Rennie Brantz, Mayor, Boone Larry Fontaine, Mayor, Seven Devils J.B. Lawrence, Mayor, Blowing Rock Jimmy Hodges, Chair, Commissioner Wilkes County Gary D. Blevins, Commissioner Sandra P. Simmons, Commissioner, Ronda Russell Ferree, Mayor Pro Tem, Wilkesboro Robert L. Johnson, Mayor, North Wilkesboro Yancey County Theresa Coletta, Mayor, Burnsville Johnny Riddle, Chair, Commissioner
High Country COG Staff 828-265-5434 828-265-5439 Administration
Gary Page Interim Executive Director firstname.lastname@example.org / x.125
Shane Fox Finance Officer email@example.com / x.109
Kathy Combs Receptionist firstname.lastname@example.org / x.100
Mary Goodnight Finance Assistant email@example.com / x.103
Tanna Greathouse Clerk to the Board firstname.lastname@example.org / x.101
Planning & Development
Fred Sides Information Systems Specialist email@example.com / x.110
Area Agency on Aging
Julie Wiggins Director firstname.lastname@example.org / x.126 Nicole Hiegl Aging Services Coordinator email@example.com / x.113 Stevie John Regional Ombudsman firstname.lastname@example.org / x.126 Brenda Reece Family Caregiver Support Specialist email@example.com / x.128 Diane Tilson Aging Program Assistant firstname.lastname@example.org / x.141
Phillip Trew Director email@example.com / x.121
Michelle Ball Community Development Planner firstname.lastname@example.org / x.115 Jessica Brannock GIS Planner email@example.com / x.134 Kelly Coffey Senior Planner firstname.lastname@example.org / x.114 David Graham Transportation Planner email@example.com / x.135
Misty Bishop-Price Interim Director/Systems Manager firstname.lastname@example.org x.119 Rebecca Bloomquist Special Projects Coordinator email@example.com x.136 Don Sherrill Operations Director firstname.lastname@example.org x.120
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
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Exective Board Elects Officers In March, the HCCOG Executive Board elected officers for 2016-2018.
Brenda Lyerly, Chair
Brenda Lyerly currently serves as the Mayor of Banner Elk. Brenda has served as Banner Elk’s representative on the board for twenty years. Since that time, Brenda has seen many changes at the COG and the surrounding area, but one thing never changes – people’s love for and dedication to their respective towns and counties and the surrounding beautiful High Country. Brenda Lyerly said, “It is inspiring to see the members of the High Country Council of Governments who care enough for their respective municipality or county to spend the amount of time and energy necessary for the betterment of their areas. Each elected official has responsibilities in their own arena, but involvement with the High Country Council of Governments Brenda Lyerly, Chair is over and above. Their citizens may not realize the extra time spent for their benefit. These dedicated elected officials take their own time to meet and find more amenities for their citizens and infrastructures. They are willing to collaborate with a larger group in order to have a stronger voice in Raleigh for amenities for all of Western North Carolina.” What are you most looking forward to accomplishing during your upcoming tenure as Chairwoman? “I am looking forward to working more closely with each COG member and the COG staff and getting to know them better. I look forward to finding the correct fit in a COG Director and working closely with that new director to find creative ways to better serve our seven counties. I would like to convince the legislators that COGS are relevant and that High Country Council of Governments serves an important role in keeping Raleigh aware of the needs of Western North Carolina, as well as partnering in programs to better serve our citizens.”
Johnny Riddle, Vice Chair
Johnny Riddle currently serves as Chair of the Yancey County Board of Commissioners. Johnny joined the Executive Board in 2010.
Chris Jones, Secretary
Chris Jones currently serves as a Council Member for the Town of Sparta. Chris joined the Executive Board in 2012.
Valerie Jaynes, Treasurer
Valerie currently serves as the Mayor of Newland. Valerie joined the Executive Board in 2005.
Johnny Riddle Vice Chair
Chris Jones Secretary
Valerie Jaynes Treasurer
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Life Saved on Beech Mountain Three Lauded as Heroes
On February 12, 2016 at 10:40 pm, the Beech Mountain Fire Department was dispatched to a report of a subject not breathing. Officer Tyler Jones and Volunteer Fire Lt. John Hoffman were the first to arrive on scene. Officer Jones took the Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) from his vehicle and he and Lt. Hoffman entered the residence. The subject was located on the floor in a rear bedroom of the home. A patient assessment was conducted by Officer Jones and Lt. Hoffman and Officer Jones applied the AED to the patient. The patient was found to be in respiratory arrest with agonal breaths that were less than four (4) times per minute and appeared to be near death. The AED advised no shock was necessary and CPR was continued by Officer Jones and Lt. Hoffman. During CPR a weak rapid pulse was detected on the subject.
L-R: Mayor Rick Miller, Officer Tyler Jones, and Beech Mountain Police Chief Shawn Freeman
Lt. Max Riley quickly responded within minutes to the scene in the Beech Mountain Fire Department’s Medical Response vehicle. Quickly, he began rescue breathing of the patient using a bag valve mask/AMBU bag. A short time later, Avery County EMS arrived on scene and administered Narcan intravenously to the subject in an attempt to counter the effects of a narcotic overdose. The patient did not respond to the Narcan. Due to the seriousness of the situation, a decision was made to rapidly move the subject to the ambulance for transport to a medical facility. Officer Jones, Lt. Hoffman, and Lt. Riley helped move the subject to the ambulance carrying the subject through deep snow and down several flights of stairs to the awaiting ambulance. During the move to the ambulance, they continued to administer CPR on the subject while traveling backwards down the stairs and through the snow. The patient was transported to the local hospital via emergency response and with Beech Mountain Police Department escort in severe winter weather conditions where the patient was stabilized and transferred to a neighboring city’s trauma center for extensive treatment. If it were not for the actions of these individuals, it is quite certain this individual would not have survived. Due to Officer Tyler Jones, Lt. John Hoffman and Lt. Max Riley’s advanced training and ability to act under extreme conditions, a life was saved. The actions of these men do not only reflect positively on them, it also reflects a positive image on the Beech Mountain Police Department, Beech Mountain Fire Department, and the Town of Beech Mountain! Job well done!
L-R: Beech Mountain Volunteer Fire Lt. Max Riley, Mayor Rick Miller, and Volunteer Fire Lt. John Hoffman
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A Taste of Beech and A Cool 5 Weekend Presented by Beech Mountain Parks and Recreation Department
On June 10–11, the Town of Beech Mountain Parks and Recreation Department will be hosting its 9th Annual “A Taste of Beech” and “A Cool 5 Weekend.” A Taste of Beech will start the weekend off at Buckeye Recreation Center (5:00 - 7:00pm), allowing participants and visitors to sample local cuisine offered by the restaurant. This precelebration is free for racers, but $5.00 for non-racers. A Cool 5 involves a 5-mile run ($25.00), 1.5-mile Fun Run/Walk ($20.00), and 1.5-mile Walk and Wag with man’s best friend ($20.00). The event provides a unique opportunity for participants and families to race along the slope of Beech Mountain at 5,400 feet giving a spectacular view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. “A Cool 5 race is a unique race and one that individuals return to year after year,” said Kate Prisco, Fitness Coordinator. Your participation and sponsorship in A Cool 5 helps to directly stimulate the community and local business economy; as well as helping to expand new recreational resources. Interested participants and sponsors can register at acool5race.com and visit the website to learn more about the event as well or call 828-387-3003. All photos copyright Darcy Gsteiger
Cool 5 Race
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HCCOG Hires New Finance Officer Getting to Know Shane Fox
One of the first things you notice about Shane when you meet him is how sharp he is – that and a love of all things Appalachian State. Shane has the ability to put you at ease while answering your questions and is always helpful. “My wife and I met at ASU almost 20 years ago and have dreamed of someday coming back to Boone and making it our home. It is great to finally be able to make that a reality.” Shane received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration Accounting from Appalachian State University. He has worked in public accounting for over 15 years. For nine years, Shane worked as Shane Fox, HCCOG Finance Officer an Audit Manager at Martin Starnes & Associates in Hickory, NC. Most recently, Shane worked as the Assistant Finance Director for Cleveland County. Over the years, Shane has gained valuable experience with the entire grant process – from writing to audit, and has extensive experience with governmental and non-profit accounting. He currently has over 40 hours per year of continuing education in the latest governmental accounting standards each year for the past 15 years. Currently Shane lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their 3 children, Ryan (age 13), Caroline (age 10), and Owen (age 20 Months) in Lenoir, NC. The whole family is looking forward to moving to Boone. Why did you apply for this position? “Having spent the past decade in governmental auditing including several Councils of Government I have always been intrigued by the services that they provide and impact that each COG makes for the community in which they serve. I am grateful to be a part of such a wonderful organization.” What are you most looking forward to accomplishing in your role as Finance Officer in the long-term? “Gaining a complete understanding of each of the valuable areas that the COG has to offer to the High Country and its members. Hopefully in time I am able to contribute my financial experience to each of the areas to help improve them positively and more efficiently.”
Contact Shane Fox email@example.com 828-265-5434 ext.109
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Celebrating Our Successes and Achievements
High Country AAA Advocates for Aging Services in Washington The High Country Area Agency on Aging (HCAAA) joined more than one hundred Area Agency on Aging representatives for a two-day policy briefing followed by advocacy visits on Capitol Hill. This year, our advocacy included many “thank yous” to our federal legislators who recently voted to reauthorize the Older Americans Act. The Older Americans Act is the federal legislation that governs the services provided by the High Country Area Agency on Aging and our nine contracted providers throughout our seven county region. These services are instrumental in helping older and disabled adults age safely in their own home. If not for these programs, many of these individuals would be placed prematurely in a long term care facility, where the cost to the system is much greater.
Julie Wiggins and other NC Area Agency on Aging representatives meet with Senator Burr’s Health Policy Assistant, Angela Wiles
For more information on how the Older Americans Act promotes quality of life and cost-savings to programs such as Medicaid, please contact Julie Wiggins (firstname.lastname@example.org; 828-265-5434 x122).
New AAA Program: HomeMeds The High Country Area Agency on Aging (HCAAA) received a two-year grant to implement the HomeMeds Program. HomeMeds has been proven effective at identifying potentially harmful and life-threatening medication errors. The ultimate goal of the program is to reduce the risk of negative side effects caused by medications. Research suggests that medication errors lead to falls, hospitalizations and hospital readmissions, and thousands of deaths each year. Older adults are particularly vulnerable given that so many take numerous medications prescribed by several different doctors and filled at different pharmacies. The HCAAA looks forward to working with all nine of our contracted service providers in the seven counties to help with providing this service through the region. The HCAAA is also grateful for the Boone Service League, who recently awarded the HCAAA with a $1,000 grant that will help increase the number of people we can serve! For more information on the HomeMeds program, please contact Nicole Hiegl (email@example.com; 828-265-5434 x113).
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Bakersville Awarded CDBG-Infrastructure Grant from NC DEQ On March 3, 2016 the Town of Bakersville was awarded $1,999,500 in Community Development Block Gant Infrastructure (CDBG-I) funding from the NC Division of Environmental Quality. The CDBG-I funds will go to improve the Town’s water system by replacing 6,800 linear feet of old, leaking water mains and replacing 270 old meters. In addition the project will help construct a second water supply source. Currently the town has three wells, two of which are offline due to decreased yield. The entire Town will benefit from the Bakersville CDBG-I project by reducing the Town’s high rate of water loss with the new water mains and meters as well as provide the Town with a much needed new water source. The Town’s CDBG-I application benefitted from extensive planning and preliminary design. Funding from CDBG-I is available on an annual basis through the North Carolina Division of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ). The purpose of the funding is to construct public water and sewer infrastructure to mitigate public and environmental health problems in areas or Towns where the percentage of low- and moderate-income (LMI) persons is more than 50%. The grants are available to Units of Local Government with a maximum award of $2,000,000 over a three-year period. The deadline to submit applications for the 2016 CDBG-I cycle is September 30, 2016.
High Country Industry Sector Partnerships Survey The High Country Workforce Development Board is working to coordinate business outreach service efforts throughout the region. As part of this coordination we would like to understand the efforts currently underway with sector partnerships. A sector partnership is an industry-specific partnership led by business in partnership with economic development, education, and workforce development to align training with the skills needed for that industry to grow and compete. Sector partnerships can help facilitate the advancement of workers at all skill levels, including the least skilled. In the coming months the High Country Workforce Development Board team will be developing a number of new sector partnerships in critical industries. However, we do not want to duplicate efforts already underway in our region. It is our intent to understand the efforts already working, identify gaps where industry sector partnerships do not exist, and develop them where needed. Please help us in our data gathering efforts by taking a short survey on sector partnerships in your county. If your work spans multiple counties, feel free to answer the survey multiple times.
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High Country Workforce Board Director Departs for New Role Adrian Tait, Director of the High Country Workforce Development Board (HCWDB), has been selected as the North Carolina Regional Director for ResCare Workforce Services and began that new role on April 15th. Since 2011, Tait served as director of the HCWDB and helped it continue to grow into a dynamic, demanddriven organization. The NCWorks Career Centers – which are overseen by the HCWDB - served 1,090 businesses and more than 15,000 job seekers across its seven-county region last year. Through his leadership and collaborations with business, education, government, and non-profit leaders, the HCWDB has developed innovative solutions for the region such as partnering on unique strategies to re-engage students who have dropped out of school and regional collaborative initiatives to help more regional businesses find the talent they need to compete.
Adrian Tait, Outgoing Workforce Director
“The High Country Workforce Development Board is known nationally for our innovative approaches thanks for Adrian’s vision and leadership,” said Sallie Woodring, chair of the workforce development board. “He has worked hard for our region and also shared his passion across North Carolina over the past five years. His progressive approach and enthusiasm will be missed.” Misty Bishop-Price, NCWorks Operations Manager, will serve as interim director until a replacement is hired.
Misty Bishop-Price, Interim Director
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HCCF Strives to Have Caregivers Self-Identify When you hear the word “caregiver” do you think about a paid professional employed by a home care agency? Or do you think a caregiver has to be someone who provides 24 hour, hands on care? There are certainly plenty of family members who have the role of being a full time caregiver. But if you look around the High Country you will probably notice a lot of other people helping out an older or disabled person on a less intense level. You see an elderly person with a family member or friend helping them at the grocery store, a restaurant, the pharmacy, the post office or getting to a car. These people are also considered caregivers because they are helping someone with something that they are no longer able to do, allowing them to remain as independent as possible. There are thousands of people out there who are playing a vital role in maintaining the independence of an older person, but don’t realize it or don’t see what they do as very important. There is a misconception that a caregiver is someone who provides hands-on care every day. While that is what some caregivers do, caregiving usually begins long before then and involves many other “simpler” tasks. A family caregiver is a relative, neighbor or friend who: • Arranges medical appointments and provides transportation • Prepares meals for their parent/loved one to ensure nutritious food is available • Helps pay bills and/or balance the checkbook • Helps with cleaning and/or laundry • Assists with weekly grocery shopping • Sets up and / or prefills medication boxes • Frequentry make or receive phone calls on the behalf of a loved one • Feels the need to regularly “check up” on your parent/loved one to be sure they are okay Or a spouse who: • Has taken on duties that were once your spouses? (cooking, snow removal, cleaning, laundry, car maintenance, bookkeeping, bill paying, etc.) • Needs to accompany your spouse when going places he/she used to go alone • Is starting to assist with daily living tasks like dressing, grooming and bathing • Ensures medications are taken properly • Makes medical decisions for your spouse • Feels unable to leave your spouse home alone Does this sound like you or someone you know? If so, then you are a caregiver! You may think that these tasks are just things that you do for the people you love. Particularly, here in Appalachia. It’s just what we do. We take care of our own. While that is true, don’t downplay the importance of your assistance in these areas. Without your help, your family members may not be able to continue to live in their own home. The “little” things that you do are crucial to the independence of your loved one.
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• If you feel it is necessary to regularly check on your elderly neighbor and help with little jobs then you are a caregiver. Without your help, your neighbor may not be able to live independently. • When you find yourself spending time making appointments for you mother and stopping at the pharmacy or grocery store for her amidst running your own errands, you are caregiving. • If you have stopped going to your weekly card club because you don’t feel you can leave your spouse at home alone you are a caregiver. • When you spend time making phone calls to help your sister find an assisted living facility or to set up home care services you are a caregiver. Being provided the opportunity to care for another human being when they are most vulnerable is one of life’s greatest honors and simultaneously, one of the greatest challenges bestowed on a person in their lifetime. Some say that people either rise to the occasion and discover strength, perseverance, and even joy along the journey, or they crumble under the weight of despair, loss of control, and stress. However, we believe that caregivers often go through both of these experiences and ensuing emotions and that regardless, the journey was never meant to be taken alone. Identifying yourself as a caregiver opens the door to many resources that will make your caregiving job easier, more effective and keep you healthier, too. By partnering with the High Country Caregiver Foundation, High Country AAA is able to provide respite opportunities, emotional support and other valuable caregiver resources that can help you in your caregiving journey.
Support the High Country Caregiver Foundation everytime you shop!
When you go to smile.amazon.com to make your purchase, Amazon will automatically donate a percentage of the sale to the Foundation —at no additional cost to you.
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Area Agency on Aging Plans Regional Conference
The High Country Area Agency on Aging (HCAAA) is planning the first ever High Country Care Transitions Summit to be held at Grandfather Golf and Country Club on Friday, September 23. Care transitions simply refers to someone moving from one health care, or other care setting to another. A good illustration of this concept is what happens when someone suffers an injury from a fall. That individual may likely move from the hospital to short-term nursing rehabilitation to home health to a community-based service provided through the senior center, such as transportation, home delivered meals, or in-home aide. The conference will gather the key stakeholders from hospitals, long term care, senior centers and other community based service providers, home health, hospice, mental health, EMS, fire departments, police and sheriff departments, transportation agencies, pharmacists, and many others. The HCAAA would like to acknowledge our partners and supporters who are helping make this summit a high quality event: Appalachian State Universityâ€™s College of Health Sciences, Grandfather Golf and Country Club, the North Carolina Alliance for Effective Care Transitions (NCACT), and Alliant Quality. For additional information on the conference content or if you have interest in becoming one of our sponsors, please contact Julie Wiggins (firstname.lastname@example.org; 828-265-5434 x122).
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Vulnerable and Elder Abuse Prevention Month
May 8 ‑ June 19, 2016
The 2010 United States Census recorded the greatest number and proportion of people age 65 and older in all of census history: 40.3 million, or 13% of the total population. This “Boomer Generation” effect will continue for decades. By 2050, people age 65 and older are expected to comprise 20% of the total U.S. population. The fastest growing segment of America’s population consists of those 85 and up. In 2010, there were 5.8 million people aged 85 or older, but this number is projected to grow to 19 million by 2050. Approximately 1 in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of abuse. Some estimates report that as many as 5 million older adults are abused each year. One study estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of abuse are reported to authorities. Abusers are both women and men. In almost 90% of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is a family member. Two thirds of perpetrators are adult children or spouses. Social isolation and cognitive impairment (such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease) increase an older adult’s susceptibility to abuse. Recent studies show that nearly half of those with dementia experienced abuse or neglect, with disproportionately higher rates among adults with disabilities. Older adults who experienced abuse, even modest abuse, had a 300% higher risk of death when compared to those who had not been abused. Research has also shown that victims of elder abuse have significantly higher levels of psychological distress and lower perceived self-worth than older adults who have not been victimized. In addition, older adults who are victims of violence have more health care problems than other older adults. The impact of abuse, neglect, and exploitation also has a profound financial cost. The direct medical costs associated with violent injuries to older adults are estimated to add over $5.3 billion to the nation’s annual health expenditures. While likely underreported, elder financial abuse costs older Americans $2.9 billion per year. The North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services is expanding its efforts in 2016 to promote recognition of “Vulnerable and Elder Abuse Awareness Month”. Individuals, agencies and communities are encouraged to plan Elder Abuse awareness activities from May 8 through June 19 (Mother’s Day to Father’s Day). The simplest way to show your support is to wear a purple ribbon to bring attention to these issues.
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GIS Projects Update Town of Wilkesboro Stormwater System Mapping
High Country COG GIS completed a Stormwater Infrastructure Mapping Project for the Town of Wilkesboro in February 2016 with funding from NC Division of Environmental Qualityâ€™s 205(j) grant program. Over the course of one year, the HCCOG, with assistance from Town Public Works staff, GNSS-collected all stormwater infrastructure within the municipal limits. HCCOG collected inlet and outlet locations, bioretention ponds, swales, ditch lines, ephemeral creeks, etc. Detailed attributes and a hyperlinked photo image were also collected for each feature. Culverts were digitized according to flow direction from source to final outfall. Attributes collected included, but was not limited to, inlet/outlet structure type, material, invert depth, visible condition, visible pollutants, odor, stream presence, culvert material, culvert diameter, outfall to surface or stream, etc. The Town of Wilkesboro now has a complete, geographically-accurate inventory of their stormwater network. This allows the Town to locate stormwater infrastructure, trace runoff/contaminants from source to destination (emergency response), develop a maintenance plan, address sinkhole and/or erosion issues and prioritize needed repairs.
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Town of Blowing Rock Woodlawn Cemetery ArcGIS Online Web Application
The Town of Blowing Rock recently launched a new web application for Woodlawn Cemetery, a municipal cemetery located along US Hwy 321 just northeast of the Blue Ridge Parkway. In 2014-2015, High Country COG GIS mapped the Woodlawn Cemetery, developing a GIS database of plot and gravestone locations, identification numbers, ownership, burial and availability status information. In March 2016, the High Country COG built upon previous GIS mapping efforts to develop an ESRI ArcGIS Online web application. The web app is compatible with multiple devices including smart phones, tablets and desktop computers. The app provides the public with a web-based tool for searching for plots by availability status (sold-occupied, sold-vacant, and available for purchase) and ownership name. Also, users can click on individual plots to see the plot size, section ID and plot ID. Mausoleum information is included as well. Blowing Rock Public Works staff uses the ArcGIS Online solution for maintaining the cemetery records in-house and keeping the plot status updated. Additionally, High Country COG developed another ArcGIS Online app for the Town for viewing information such as zoning, floodplain, parcels, roads, trails, parks, sidewalks, infrastructure, etc. Both apps can be launched from the Town’s main website by clicking on the “Cemetery and Town GIS” link.
Screen shot of the Woodlawn Cemetery Web App. The app enables the public to view plot status and ownership information.
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Big Horse Creek Scenic Byway Through a collaborative effort between the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) , Greater Lansing Area Development (GLAD), Ashe County, the towns of Lansing, Jefferson, West Jefferson, and the High Country Rural Planning Organization (RPO), the Big Horse Creek Scenic Byway was officially designated as a Scenic Byway by the North Carolina Board of Transportation on April 7, 2016 making it the 60th Scenic Byway in North Carolina. North Carolina Scenic Byways are selected based on natural, cultural, and historic features along the route. The Big Horse Creek Scenic Byway begins in Warrensville at the NC 88 and NC 194 intersection and ends at the Virginia state line for a length of approximately 17 miles. The Big Horse Creek Scenic Byway is comprised of 4 distinct sections as follows:
“Old Home Place” — Found on a series of curves known locally as the Devil’s Stairs
NC 194, Warrensville to Lansing: Features views of the North Fork of the New River, Phoenix Mountain, historic downtown Lansing and Lansing Presbyterian Church. Big Horse Creek: Follows creek with roadside pull-offs, rock outcroppings, Union Baptist Church, New Bethal Baptist Church and Husk General Store. Rip Shin Road to Farmers Store Road: Follows 3 state roads through agricultural landscape, features views of the Old Virginia Creeper trestle, Pond Mountain, Apple Grove Church and Hall Cemetery. Farmers Store Road to the NC/Virginia State Line: This section also provides for views of rural North Carolina, ending at the North Carolina and Virginia border. If you continue into Virginia you will eventually end up at Whitetop Mountain (a starting point for the Traffic is light, with the occasional slow-down. Virginia Creeper bicycle trail to Damascus Virginia). This area provides a good point of interest and a place to turn around to enjoy the Big Horse Creek Scenic Byway from the other direction. According to NCDOT, signs will be erected in the future identifying the route as a Scenic Byway. In addition, the Big Horse Creek Scenic Byway will be featured in NCDOT’s nationally distributed Scenic Byways Guide. The NCDOT Scenic Byway Program is designed to give residents and visitors a chance to experience North Carolina’s history, geography and scenery while raising awareness for scenic protection and landscape preservation. No off-premise advertising (i.e., billboards) is allowed along the Byways.
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New Economic Development Plan for Mitchell The Mitchell County Economic Development Commission (EDC) recently adopted Mitchell Works: An Economic Development Strategic Plan for Mitchell County, NC (Mitchell Works Plan). The Mitchell Works Plan provides guidance to the Mitchell County Economic Development Commission (EDC), the County and Town governments, and local, State, and Federal partners on how to expand and improve the economy in Mitchell County. The Mitchell Works Plan was initiated by the Mitchell County EDC, and addresses economic development topics raised in both the 2013 Economic Development Forum for Western NC and the 2014 NC Jobs Plan.
Town of Bakersville
Mitchell Works: An Economic Development Strategic Plan for Mitchell County, NC
The Plan was developed under the guidance of a Planning Committee comprised of local leaders, state and local government staff, and business owners. The Plan was co-authored by staff from High Country COG and NC Department of Commerce. Plan development included analysis of current economic data for Mitchell County, and interviews with local business owners, plant managers, and representatives of the arts/crafts and agriculture sectors. The Mitchell Works Plan contains a total of 48 recommendations. The Plan makes 43 specific recommendations under the following seven economic development foundations: 1. 2. 3. 4.
Workforce Physical Infrastructure Industry Small Business
Town of Spruce Pine
5. Tourism 6. Agriculture 7. Land Development
The Mitchell Works Plan also makes five specific recommendations regarding Local Organization for Economic Development. The Plan is intended to complement other recent local plans with economic development components, including: • 2012 Spruce Pine Downtown Master Plan • 2015 Mitchell County Strategic Marketing Plan • 2015 Farmland Protection Plan for Mitchell County Mitchell County’s economic condition is typical of rural counties, both in NC and the US. Mitchell County’s population is static, but is experiencing growth in the older adult population and a decrease in the youth population. Income and educational attainment in the County is similar to the rest of western NC, but lower than State and Federal averages. During the past decade the agricultural sector of the economy has declined in employment, number of farms, and output. Manufacturing employment has also declined, but still represents 6% of employment through well-established, niche industries. Mining and tourism continue to be significant sectors of the County’s economy, taking advantage of unique mineral resources, natural beauty, and a tradition of arts and craft production. Also typical of rural counties, Mitchell County’s laborshed is regional, with many workers commuting in and out of the County.
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Two Towns Receive Grants
Elk Park and Seven Devils Receive Parks & Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) Grants The Towns of Elk Park and Seven Devils each received a Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) grant recently for improvements to their parks. Elk Park received a grant of $19,962. The Town’s project consists of a picnic shelter, playground equipment, benches, and a security camera recording system for the town’s only park. The picnic shelter is the town’s primary need, as the existing one is heavily used. It hosts birthday parties every weekend, and a number of churches use it frequently for outings. Family gettogethers, special events, and various other gatherings keep it in constant use. The new shelter will help the Town meet this demand so that groups will not be disappointed when the existing one is unavailable. Seven Devil’s Otter Falls Park is located in an undeveloped gorge near the center of town. The site is wooded and contains numerous rock outcroppings and diverse wildlife habitats. The most prominent park feature is the waterfall (Otter Falls) on Valley Creek. The park is new, as the land was recently acquired with a previous grant from PARTF and other funding sources, including citizen donations. Since purchasing the land, the Town has constructed a paved driveway, a gravel parking lot, and ¾ mile trail. The PARTF grant, Otter Falls, Photo by Ed Evans for $23,608, will further develop Otter Falls Park with three trails, signs, safety railing, and pavement for the existing parking lot. One of the trails will parallel Valley Creek and contain viewing structures for the waterfall- observation decks, wooden walkways, and constructed stone pathways- that will give hikers streamside access to various waterfall observation points. The North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, a state-funded program in operation since 1995, offers grants for parks to local governments. It’s also the primary source of funds for state park development and the Public Beach Access Program. Applications are due in May and require 50% cash match. In 2015, 30 grants were approved, totaling $4,897,000. Funding is typically available to award 25% of the grant requests.
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Turning a Layoff Into a New Career Barbara Kelly was laid off from her job with Gates Corporation in July 2012 when the factory closed and relocated. She met with a Career Advisor in the Wilkes NCWorks Career Center to discuss her options for work or additional training. She knew she wanted to do something in the medical field but felt she could not physically do some of the more hands-on work with patients. Barbara decided to return to school and pursue training in Health Information Technology through Pitt Community College. This program allowed her to take part of her classes at Wilkes Community College, transfer them to Pitt, and then complete her degree online. Barbara was enrolled into intensive Workforce Investment Act (WIA) services to assist with her first semester of training in August 2012, prior to her Trade Adjustment Act (TAA) assistance that began spring semester of 2013. Working together WIA/WIOA and TAA were able to provide the training assistance and career development support needed for Barbara to successfully earn her Associate Degree from Pitt Community College in Health Care Technology in December 2014. Barbara was committed to complete Barbara Kelly works in the medical filing area of Alleghany Memorial her training which often required her to travel from Hospital home to another county to ensure she was able to have secure internet access for her online classes. After earning her degree, she sat for and passed the American Health Information Management Association (AHIM) test, a nationally recognized certification to become a registered health information technician in April 2015. Despite the degree and national certification, Barbara struggled to find employment. Utilizing special US Department of Labor National Emergency Grant Job Driven Initiative (NEG-JDI) funding, staff were able to find an On-the-Job Training (OJT) funded employment opportunity for Barbara with Alleghany Memorial Hospital in Sparta as a HIT Management Supervisor. Barbara worked hard and successfully learned new skills and completed her OJT on December 29, 2015 and continues to work for the hospital where she is responsible for selecting, training, and evaluation of all department employees as well as meeting external agency regulatory standards. Barbaraâ€™s hard work and determination enabled her to take this major life-changing event and turn it into an opportunity to pursue her career interest. Barbara not only gained specialized career and professional skills, but also grew personally and is grateful for the assistance the NCWorks system provided her.
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Partnership Creates All-Day Learning Experience Mountain Heritage High School Sophomores Gain Insight
On March 1, Mountain Heritage High School, the Yancey NCWorks Career Center, Mayland Community College and local employers pulled together to provide a learning experience for the county’s sophomore students. Approximately 200 Mountain Heritage 10th grade students attended an event to provide them with real local labor market and workplace skills information. Groups of 25 students rotated throughout the day to the different scheduled events. Tours of the Yancey Campus of Mayland Community College were provided, including an extensive look at the new Anspach facilities 3D modeling and other advanced manufacturing technology.
At the Anspach Advanced Manufacturing facility at Mayland Community College, students learn how 3D printers work
Each group received a 90 minute workplace skills workshop provided by the NCWorks Career Center staff. The groups were also transported to local industries, Altec and BRP, to tour the facilities and see what local opportunities are available to them. The partnership allowed students to experience information that will assist them in making career decisions for their futures that they otherwise would not have experienced.
High Country Business Engagement Network
The High Country Workforce Development Board (HCWDB) is coordinating the High Country Business Engagement Network, a collaboration of the many agencies delivering services to businesses. Through the network, an organization can gain access to everything from start-up business planning to outplacement and all the needs in between. Some of the network’s partners include the Ashe County Economic Development, NCWorks Career Centers, Watauga Economic Development Corporation, and Wilkes Economic Development Corporation. The HCWDB is just beginning to grow the information on the website and continues to add information on services to make the website as complete as possible for businesses that might need assistance. If your agency delivers services such as entrepreneurial support, access to capital, recruitment assistance, business coaching and support, or training for existing and new employees to business, join the network of partners to get your services in front of more businesses.
www.highcountrybiz.com to enter your organization’s information or to see what services out there can benefit you!
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Experiencing the Real World
Alleghany County High School Seniors “Enter the Working World” Alleghany High School juniors were transformed from high school to life in the working world on Tuesday April 12th. Many students reported this event helped them to see the difference between wants and needs as well as how much education affects their futures. In a one-day simulation called Alleghany Real World at Alleghany High School, students were assigned mock jobs and salaries and went to vendors “paying” with mock checks for housing, transportation, clothing, insurance, utilities, phone, food and other goods and services. Alleghany High School student, Gavin Billings stated, “The Real World event was fun but challenging because of the difficulty of budgeting everything necessary and the random costs and expenses that came up.”
Juniors at Alleghany High School navigate their way through the Real World
“School is great to give students an education,” said Rianna Evans, “but it’s not every day you get to practice real world skills. It was a nice change; it was really beneficial for the majority of the juniors at Alleghany High.” Prior to the event students completed a career assessment that determined which job they would have that day. Students also participated in a soft skills training that prepared them in how to dress for the event, practiced handshakes and other job related soft skills. Students received unexpected “life happens” emergency expenses, such as suffering identify theft, or being injured in an automobile accident. Chief Bob Lane also issued traffic tickets to help them experience this aspect of adult life. Students kept a record of how much they spent with each vendor to help them learn about balancing a budget. They discussed what they learned as a group at the end of the event. Alleghany Real World included workshops for students in the morning, each 30 minutes long, on banking, budgeting, insurance and job related soft skills. Workshops presenters were LifeStore, State Employees Credit Union, and Wilkes Community College. Organizer of the event, Jenny Webb, Youth Career Advisor with NCWorks Career Center said, “This is a very “hands on” approach to learning, and I feel this is one of the most effective ways to teach students about life skills.” Webb went on to say this event would not have been possible without community involvement, “I can tell there is a vested interest in the students’ success here at Alleghany High School by the number of people who volunteered, helped with planning and showed up for the event today. This speaks volumes about community here in Alleghany County.” Housing vendor Mike Parlier, reported that the event should be “mandatory for students” and “it is a great event!” Planning committee member, Charles Rudy said, “We are very fortunate, indeed, to have such a giving community of business and municipal leaders to invest time as vendors for students. What a great bunch of folks to volunteer for these kids in such a positive way.”
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Members of the planning Committee included Charles Rudy, North Carolina Cooperative Extension (Amy Lucas), Fred Pfaender, NCWorks Career Center Staff (Callie McCraw, Jenny Webb, Les Miller), SkyLine/SkyBest (Karen Powell), State Employees Credit Union (Juliana Lowe), Town of Sparta (Bryan Edwards, Kevin Dowell, Peggy Choate) and Wilkes Community College (Elizabeth Coleman, Ginger Shaffer). Volunteers working as vendors during Alleghany Real World included representatives of Alleghany Cares, Alleghany in Motion, Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corp., Caldwell Construction, Carolina Farm Credit, Carolina West Wireless, Department of Social Services, Farm Bureau, Fifth Third Bank, Gil’s Jeans and Things, Gynn Furniture, LifeStore, Lowe’s Foods, Northwest Housing, Ofelia’s, SkyLine/SkyBest, State Employees Credit Union, Town of Sparta, Twin Oak Vet Hospital, Vocational Rehabilitation, West Jefferson Chevrolet, and various staff of Wilkes Community College. Volunteer Mike Parlier worked the housing booth and Fred Pfaender worked the sports/ recreation booth. Additional volunteers at the event were Alleghany High School staff, Amy Lucas, Charles Rudy, Lillis Ward, and Nancy Hash. Sponsors of the Alleghany Real World were Alleghany Chamber of Commerce, Becca’s Backwoods Bean, Blue Ridge Air, Brown’s Restaurant, First Community Bank, Innovative Occasions, LifeStore, Murphey’s Mercantile, Notti Toffee, Seven C’s Candy Shoppe, SkyLine/SkyBest, State Employees Credit Union, Town of Sparta, Touch of Grace, and Wilkes Community College. A special thanks to SkyLine/SkyBest, State Employees Credit Union and Town of Sparta who assisted in multiple areas with planning and sponsoring of the event. First Community Bank generously donated calculators for all students. Staff lunches catered by Mustard Seed were sponsored by North Carolina Cooperative Extension, and Peak Creek Ruritan Club. If you’re interested, you can view a video of highlights from day on YouTube.
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High Country Workforce Development Board Retreat
On April 14 the High Country Workforce Development Board met for its regularly scheduled board meeting and annual retreat at BREMCO in Boone. The day began with a lunch keynote by Ron Painter, Executive Director of the National Association of Workforce Boards, who talked to the group about what makes a great board and board member as well as a federal legislative update. During the meeting, board members heard staff updates around the areas of marketing, center redesigns, and an overview of the Certified Economic Development Strategy and its workforce priorities. In addition, the staff presented a draft of the Strategic Plan for the upcoming program year and beyond which will focus on five areas: • Create an integrated, customer-centered, and seamless workforce system; • Create a workforce system that is responsive to the changing needs of the economy; • Prepare workers to succeed in the High Country economy and continuously improve their skills; • Use data to drive strategies and ensure accountability; and • Develop a coordinated approach to serving young adults. The final version of the Strategic Plan will be presented to the board for its approval at its July 14 meeting. During the retreat portion of the day, board members divided into two groups to discuss engagement of its membership, the top workforce issues in their respective communities, and how the board can be involved in those issues. Then at the end of the facilitated discussion, both groups decided on two areas of focus for the board for the upcoming year: the emerging workforce and soft skill improvement of job seekers.
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Grade 8 in Avery County Schools Going Strong On April 4 and 5, Avery County Schools, the local NCWorks Career Center, and local employers partnered to produce the third annual Grade 8 Project. The idea was formed approximately three years ago based on a Canadian model presented during the 2013 High Country Youth Summit. The goal has been to expose students at an earlier age to career-related information and in a method easily understood. All Avery County 8th grade students attend information sessions on careers, educational opportunities, and what is available at their local high school to explore and move them toward an occupation. Students are engaged by methods such as a game of local labor market â€œJeopardyâ€?.
Students review their career exploration assessment with an advisor during the Avery Grade 8 event
New this year, the process was accompanied by a career fair with local employers not only for the 8th graders, but for all high school students as well. This model is a perfect example of what can be accomplished when community partnerships are used to provide resources for our youth.
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High Country Caregiver Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. All contributions are tax deductible. â€œFinancial information about this organization and a copy of its license are available from the State Solicitation Licensing Section at (919) 807-2214. The license is not an endorsement by the State.â€?
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2016 Annual Luncheon Sept
em be r 1, 20
Save the Date!
Please plan on joining us to support caregivers in the High Country region.
High Country Council of Governments Executive Board Meeting :: 7:00 pm 3rd Monday of the Month. No meetings Jan. or Sept.
Tanna Greathouse, email@example.com, x.101
Area Agency on Aging Regional Advisory Council on Aging Meets on a Quarterly Basis
Julie Wiggins, firstname.lastname@example.org, x.122
AAA Provider Meeting Meets on a Quarterly Basis
Julie Wiggins, email@example.com, x.122
AAA Quarterly Training :: 1:00 â€“ 4:00 pm Training Dates Advertised
Julie Wiggins, firstname.lastname@example.org, x.122 Brenda Reece, email@example.com, x. 128
Workforce Development Workforce Development Board :: 2:30 pm 2nd Thursday, Quarterly (Jul., Oct., Jan., Apr.)
Misty Bishop-Price, firstname.lastname@example.org, x.119
Planning and Development RPO Rural Transportation Advisory Committee :: 2:00 pm 3rd Wednesday, Quarterly (Feb., May, Aug., Dec.)
Phil Trew, email@example.com, x.121 David Graham, firstname.lastname@example.org, x.135
RPO Rural Transportation Coordinating Committee :: 10:00 am 3rd Wednesday, Quarterly (Feb., May, Aug., Nov.)
Phil Trew, email@example.com, x.121 David Graham, firstname.lastname@example.org, x.135