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ReCOGnition

Newsletter of the High Country Council of Governments Vol. 36 / Issue 2 / October 2016

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42nd Annual Banquet HCCOG and its membership came together to celebrate service, dedication, relationships, and cooperation amongst one another. During the event, 7 outstanding individuals from the area were recognized for exemplary leadership and service.

Also in this issue . . .

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Wilkes EMS Efficiency Changes have reduced paperwork and staff time

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HCCF Continues to Grow New website and great events so far this year

Residents’ Voting Rights Addressing barriers for elderly voters

2016 High Country RPO Priority Projects

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Aviation Project Highway Linear Project Blue Ridge Parkway

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ESFR Rehabilitation Grant Assisting eligible homeowners with home repairs

RPO Priority Needs List High Country transportation projects

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WIA Youth Program / OJT Austin Harrell’s journey back to school


2015–2016 Executive Board Chair: 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 JÜchl, 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

Finance

Shane Fox Executive Director sfox@regiond.org / x.125

Mary Goodnight Deputy Finance Officer mgoodnight@regiond.org / x.109

Kathy Combs Receptionist kcombs@regiond.org / x.100

Planning & Development

Tanna Greathouse Clerk to the Board tgreathouse@regiond.org / x.101 Fred Sides Information Systems Specialist fsides@regiond.org / x.110

Area Agency on Aging

Julie Wiggins Director jwiggins@regiond.org / x.126 Nicole Hiegl Aging Services Coordinator nhiegl@regiond.org / x.113 Stevie John Regional Ombudsman sjohn@regiond.org / x.126 Gail Pinkham Long-Term Care Options Counselor gpinkham@regiond.org / x.118 Brenda Reece Family Caregiver Support Specialist breece@regiond.org / x.128 Diane Tilson Aging Program Assistant dtilson@regiond.org / x.141

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Phillip Trew Director ptrew@regiond.org / x.121

Michelle Ball Community Development Planner mball@regiond.org / x.115 Kelly Coffey Senior Planner kcoffey@regiond.org / x.114 David Graham Transportation Planner dgraham@regiond.org / x.135 Jessica B. Welborn GIS Planner jbrannock@regiond.org / x.134

Workforce Development Keith Deveraux Director

keith.deveraux@highcountrywdb.com x.130

Misty Bishop-Price NCWorks Operations Manager misty.bishopprice@highcountrywdb.com x.119

Rebecca Bloomquist Communications and Business Services Coordinator rebecca.bloomquist@highcountrywdb.com x.136

Don Sherrill Accountability and Compliance Manager don.sherrill@highcountrywdb.com x.120

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

www.regiond.org


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42nd Annual Banquet On September 9, 2016, High Country Council of Governments held its annual awards banquet to recognize outstanding achievements and contributions by elected officials, local government employees, and advisory committee members. High Country Council of Governments (HCCOG) is a planning and development agency serving local governments in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes, and Yancey Counties. Award winners were selected by elected and appointed officials from the seven-county region. HCCOG Executive Director, Shane Fox, presented the first five awards. Beech Mountain Town Manager Ed Evans was recognized by the region’s managers/ administrators, and local elected officials, as this year’s Outstanding Local Government Manager in the High Country region.

Ed Evans (middle), Outstanding Manager / Administrator

The award acknowledges the contributions a manager has made to local government through his/her professionalism, leadership, and accomplishments as manager or chief administrator. Evans is known for having the right kind of initiative required for good government, with an open door policy for staff and citizens. With his stewardship, Beech Mountain has been able to stay in stride with ongoing projects and plans while realizing new and innovative best-use business practices. Nominators went on to say Evans is constantly pushing himself toward excellence, meets challenges head on, and always advocates for the town’s best interest.

Charles Caudill (right), Outstanding STHL Member

Charles Caudill, an Ashe County resident, was recognized as this year’s Outstanding Senior Tar Heel Legislature / Advisory Committee on Aging member. The NC Senior Tar Heel Legislature consists of two representatives from each county who advocate for the needs of older adults to the North Carolina General Assembly. The High Country delegation also serves as the Advisory Committee on Aging for the region. Caudill has an exemplary record of community service having served on the Ashe County ADAP board for over 35 years and currently serves as their president. He also served as an Alderman for the Town of Jefferson for over 19 years.

Gary Roark (left), Outstanding RPO RTAC Member


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As an Ashe County delegate on the Senior Tar Heel Legislature, our recipient has passionately advocated for state funding of programs that protect and enhance the quality of life for our ever-growing aging population. As an Ashe Services for Aging volunteer, he prepares tax returns and serves as the local coordinator of the AARP Tax Program. Ashe County Commissioner Gary Roark was recognized as this year’s Outstanding Rural Transportation Advisory Committee (RTAC) Member by his fellow board members. This award recognizes an individual’s contribution to the region as a whole and their knowledge of the region’s transportation needs. Roark has served on the RTAC for over 6 years with superb attendance. He’s a very active and engaging member of the committee and represents the committee well. He recently became the Vice Chair of the RTAC in May 2016. Watauga County resident Jane Blackburn (not pictured) was selected by fellow board members as this year’s Outstanding Workforce Development Board Member. Since joining the board in July, 2016, Blackburn has been instrumental in establishing vital partnerships between the NCWorks Career Centers and the Appalachian Regional Library by providing workforce development activities and holding workshops and training classes to enhance the skills of jobseekers. Blackburn is seen as a valuable asset to the High Country Workforce Development Board and a pleasure to work with because of her great energy and new ideas.

Don Sherrill (right), Outstanding HCCOG Staff Member

Tudor Vance (right), Outstanding Local Elected Official

Watauga County resident Don Sherrill was recognized as this year’s Outstanding Staff Member at High Country Council of Governments. This award recognizes an individual’s willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty, contributing to a positive work environment, and promoting a healthy image of the COG in our region. Sherrill has been employed at the COG for 21 years, is well liked by his co-workers, and is known for his easygoing attitude. His extensive financial knowledge and management practices are known by Workforce boards and their staff across the state of North Carolina. Ask anyone that knows Don Sherrill and they will tell you

Paul Robinson, Jr. (right), Outstanding Executive Board Member


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he’s a man of great integrity who cares about people and champions workforce development in the High Country area. Executive Board Chairwoman and Banner Elk Mayor, Brenda Lyerly, presented the next two awards. Town of Crossnore Mayor Tudor Vance was selected as this year’s Outstanding Local Elected Official in the High Country Region. This award honors outstanding service and leadership to the community. Vance began his career as a county commissioner from 1976 to 1980. In 2001 he became the mayor of Crossnore and has served in that role ever since. A fellow council member described the award recipient as an amazing Mayor. He gathered the necessary resources needed to implement the building of a new sewage treatment plant for the town. He also provided leadership for finding a location for, and building, a new well. Vance is known for bringing various groups of people to work together for the benefit of his town, and brings so much positive energy with his ability to encourage others. The High Country Council of Governments’ Executive Board chose Wilkes County resident, Paul Robinson, Jr. as their Outstanding Executive Board Member. This award honors service and effort in promoting cooperation among local governments in the region and the state. Robinson is currently the board’s longest running active member, having been on the board for almost 29 years. Robinson worked for Wilkes County for over 27 years and was most recognized for his service to the elderly and under-privileged by assisting them in housing needs. He is widely respected in North Carolina for his experience in grants administration and in Wilkes County for his service to the county and his community as a leader. A family member recounted a story Robinson shared with his church congregation about being the father of 3 daughters, knowing he would have to attend tea parties. He said “T” is for “Time Taken” – that he and his wife would always take the time to attend his girls’ events. “E” is for “Education” – because he didn’t have much money, the girls would have to depend on their grades to get to and through college. He made sure they did well in school to be eligible for scholarships. “A” is for “Attitude” – to be successful, you need the appropriate attitude for any situation you may face because life is full of challenges, but with the right attitude you can make it. HCCOG would like to congratulate all award recipients and thank them for their dedicated service to High Country citizens.

Click here for photo album. All photos © J. Brooke Davis 2016


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Wilkes EMS Improves Efficiency with iPads

From the Wilkes Journal-Patriot

Changes that significantly reduced Wilkes Emergency Medical Services paperwork and staff time have received statewide recognition. Officials announced during the Wilkes County commissioners meeting Tuesday that the Wilkes EMS Charts-iPad Project received a 2016 “Excellence in Innovation Award,” sponsored by the Local Government Federal Credit Union (LGFCC). “Wilkes EMS worked with our patient care software vendor to deploy iPads (one per ambulance) to increase our ability to accurately collect data in the field, while also improving efficiency of our office staff who process call reports” by reducing document scanning, said Wilkes EMS Director Eric Morrison.

Left to right are Greg Adams, IT systems administrator for Wilkes County government; Tim Pennington, Wilkes EMS paramedic and shift supervisor; Wilkes EMS Director Eric Morrison; Jazmine Kilpatrick, Local Government Federal Credit Union membership services officer; and Matt Gunnet, membership services coordinator for the NC Association of County Commissioners

Morrison recognized Tim Pennington, Wilkes EMS paramedic and shift supervisor, and Greg Adams, IT systems administrator for Wilkes County government, for doing much of the work to implement the project. The award was presented Tuesday by Matt Gunnet, membership services coordinator for the N.C. Association of County Commissioners, and Jazmine Kilpatrick, LGFCC membership services officer. The association coordinates the program, which results in 10 innovation awards given annually in four categories: general government, human services, public information and participation and intergovernmental collaboration. Gunnet said judges include commissioners, managers and clerks from counties across the state, plus directors of departments of social services, budget analysts and master’s of public administration students. He said there were 42 entries this year, with Wilkes EMS winning the award and $1,000 in the human services category. Judging is based on innovativeness, presence of measurable results, ability to be replicated elsewhere and if judges would recommend or implement it in their counties. Morrison said paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) previously had to get signatures and write required information about their call trips on six to eight different paper forms and enter details from the forms in computers when they returned to base. Also, said Morrison, EMS administrative staff previously had to scan the completed paper forms to get digital copies with the required signatures as part of the process of securing Medicaid, Medicare or private insurance payments. Wilkes EMS paramedics and EMTs now use iPads to record necessary signatures and information for each call, thus eliminating the need to retype it into computers or scan it for digital copies with signatures. “With our rollout and implementation of iPads for patient care reporting collection, we decreased by about 50 percent the amount of document scanning,” he said, thus freeing administrative staff to focus on other aspects of their jobs. “We estimate that scanning for each patient required a minimum of two minutes. This resulted in about 300 hours (7.5 weeks of work) annually on this effort alone. Our 50 percent reduction alone returned 150 hours (or almost four weeks) back into the system.” Morrison said a second phase was implemented after the Wilkes Sheriff’s Office acquired new software in July, allowing Wilkes EMS and Wilkes Communications Center software to communicate. This resulted in Wilkes EMS dispatch times being automatically recorded in the Wilkes EMS computer system, so documents with these times no longer must be scanned. “This further reduced scanning by at least 25 percent,” said Morrison. He said the changes helped Wilkes EMS submit claims for Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance payments faster and with more accurate information, resulting in faster payments. They are now received in an average of 55 days, compared to 90 days previously. Wilkes EMS responds to about 12,500 calls per year, resulting in 8,700 patient transports.


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Beech Mountain Police Enhance Community Policing The Beech Mountain Police Department is committed to providing superior service to its citizens. In order to better serve the community the Police Department has implemented an Enhanced Community Policing Plan. This plan embraces better police and citizen communication through original and innovative ways to improve rapport. Improved rapport strengthens community relations by removing barriers that exist between the public and the police, providing for further transparency. Through cooperative efforts the Police Department and citizens work as a team to develop solutions for specific community based issues. Beech Mountain’s Police Department has implemented several programs to achieve the goal of strengthening community relations through the Enhanced Community Policing Plan. One such program is the Community Officers Program. This program designates specific Police Officers to sections of the Town as Community Officers. The Community Officers are leaders of the departmentwide program. Police Officers Daniel Dellinger and Jonathan Hill are currently the leaders of the Community Officers Program. These Community Officers are going door to door to introduce themselves and pass along their contact information. This initiative will serve as a great first point of contact for any concerns, questions, or comments on how the Police Department can better serve the community. The second part of the initiative encourages all Police Officers to keep their ears open and listen to what the community is informing them about. Effective community policing occurs best when there is full participation by both citizens and Police Officers. Another program the Police Department is using as a conduit to strengthen the Enhanced Community Policing Plan is the“Coffee with a Cop”program. This program publicizes dates, times, and locations to the community that Police Officers will be available to converse with citizens about any questions or concerns. Currently the department has successfully held three of these events. Fred’s General Mercantile, Famous Fast Eddie’s, and the Famous Brick Oven have each been local businesses that have opened their doors to assist in enabling this opportunity for the Police Department to engage the public.

Follow us! Town of Beech Mountain Police Department

The “Coffee with a Cop” Program is an opportunity to educate the public about the services the Police Department currently offers, the mission and goals that are set, and the future path of the department. The next “Coffee with a Cop” is scheduled for November 4, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. at the Famous Brick Oven. Through the Enhanced Community Policing Plan staff looks forward to building on the relationships already formed as well as creating new relationships. For up to date information on Police Department events and happenings link up with the department on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/beechmountainpolice. The Police Department of Beech Mountain is here to serve the citizens and visitors of this magnificent community!


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New Workforce Development Director Keith Deveraux Joins the HCCOG Team

High Country Council of Governments has selected Keith Deveraux to lead Workforce Development initiatives and programs in our seven county area. As Workforce Development Director, he will be responsible for over $1 million in funding provided to the seven county region of Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes, and Yancey Counties in western North Carolina under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). In addition to overseeing the appropriate use of funds, Mr. Deveraux will assist the High Country Workforce Development Board with implementing plans to further the mission and goals of the board. Sallie Woodring, Workforce Development Board Chair, said “The Workforce Development Board is very pleased to welcome Keith Deveraux into his new role, and we are very excited to work closely with Keith to develop a competent and skilled workforce for the High Country of North Carolina.” A native of North Wilkesboro, Mr. Deveraux received his Master’s Degree in Political Science from Appalachian State University. He previously served as the Director of the North Wilkesboro Housing Authority for nine years. Most recently he served as an Apprentice Coordinator and Training Consultant with the North Carolina Department of Commerce. He has also served as an Employment Consultant with the NC Division of Workforce Solutions in Boone, NC. Mr. Deveraux began his new role on Tuesday, July 5, 2016.

Keith Deveraux, new Workforce Development Director

Contact Keith Deveraux keith.deveraux@highcountrywdb.com 828-265-5434 ext.130


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New Long-Term Care Ombudsman

Stevie John Joins the HCCOG Team

Stevie John joined the High Country Area Agency on Aging in May and, after successfully completing the training and orientation program presented by the North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services, she is now certified to perform the duties of the position. Stevie joins us with a master’s degree in social work from Appalachian State University. She also has experience working in long-term care and managing a National Council on Aging grant to address food insecurity. Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Overview Ombudsman is Swedish for advocate. The Long-Term Care Ombudsman serves as an advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. The ombudsman’s role is to ensure that Residents’ Bill of Rights, as established in federal and state regulation, are upheld.

Stevie John, new Long-Term Care Ombudsman

What does a Long-Term Care Ombudsman do? The ombudsman visits and listens to the needs of residents in nursing homes, adult care homes, and family care homes to ensure rights are being upheld. If a resident identifies a concern or issue that is not being properly addressed, the ombudsman can take action, with resident consent, to address the issue to the resident’s satisfaction. This can be done through a variety of techniques, including facilitating mediation between resident and the facility and negotiating on the resident’s behalf. The ombudsman also speaks to resident and family councils about issues the residents face and educates the community about issues facing long-term care residents. The ombudsman also promotes elder abuse awareness and prevention activities in facilities and the community as whole.

Questions? Contact Stevie John, Regional Ombudsman sjohn@regiond.org 828-265-5434 ext.126 Toll Free: 866-219-3643 Mail: 468 New Market Blvd. Boone, NC 28607


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New Long-Term Care Options Counselor Gail Pinkham Joins the HCCOG Team

Gail Pinkham began as an intern and later as a volunteer with the High Country Area Agency on Aging. In June, Gail re-joined our team as the Long-Term Care Options Counselor (LTC-OC). Gail has a bachelor’s degree in social work from Appalachian State University, and experience working with two different North Carolina Area Agencies on Aging and with the High Country Caregiver Foundation. Long-Term Care Options Counseling Program Overview The LTC-OC works with residents in skilled nursing facilities that have expressed, to the Social Worker or another facility staff member, an interest in transitioning back into the community. Most residents are eligible for this referral, except those that have either a cognitive impairment or an active discharge plan already in place. The LTC-OC also conducts educational presentations for Social Workers and residents about the Options Counseling program. The LTC-OC provides resources and empowerment to the residents as well.

Gail Pinkham, new Long-Term Care Options Counselor

When a referral for Options Counseling is received, the Options Counselor coordinates face-to-face conversations with the person residing in the facility, the facility point-of-contact and, as appropriate, family members or other supports. Speaking or visiting with the resident provides an opportunity to hear their story and build rapport with them. This service helps facility residents who may lack awareness of existing community resources and supports. In addition, it helps them think through the pros and cons of their various options while taking into consideration their situation, values, resources, and preferences. The Options Counselor can also assist with making an action plan for the individual to implement, often with the help of a strong support system, consisting of family members and/or friends. Since the program started in 2010, there have been over 600 successful transitions. Under 10% have had to go back to the nursing home in NC, which is less than the National average.

Questions? Contact Gail Pinkham, Long-Term Care Options Counselor gpinkham@regiond.org 828-265-5434 ext.118 Toll Free: 866-219-3643 Mail: 468 New Market Blvd. Boone, NC 28607


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Regional Highlights

Celebrating Our Successes and Achievements

Downtown North Wilkesboro Wine Festival The Downtown North Wilkesboro Partnership hosted another great Shine to Wine Festival on Saturday, September 17th at the Yadkin Valley Marketplace.

Wilkes Tai Chi “If you want to live to be 100 years old, practice Tai Chi.” Many doctors as well as healthy, vibrant older adults attribute a long, healthy life to mind-body exercise such as tai chi. Certainly, the secret to health is not quite that simple, however the therapeutic value and outcomes of practicing tai chi for health has been well documented. According to a research review published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, numerous Wilkes Tai Chi studies have shown positive impacts on balance, reductions in falls risk and fear of falling, cardiovascular function, muscular strength, stress reduction, decreasing pain, physical self-esteem, and the sense of overall well-being. Additionally, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine sited tai chi as being one of the most cost effective therapeutic programs for reducing falls among older adults. Due to these positive outcomes, tai chi has rapidly grown in popularity among older adults as well as with healthcare providers. Ironically, learning tai chi and finding a competent teacher can often be a challenge. We are hoping to reduce this barrier by increasing the availability of tai chi classes through building a network of qualified instructors throughout the High Country region. Last year the Area Agency on Aging began offering teacher certifications with the Tai Chi for Health Institute and introduced the Tai Chi for Arthritis program to our region, which has quickly become one of our most successful and sought-after health promotion classes. Due to these efforts and our growing network of community providers and partners, tai chi is now offered throughout the High Country region at senior centers, parks and recreation centers, YMCA’s, and at long-term care facilities. Part of the High Country Area Agency on Aging’s mission is to improve the health and wellbeing of older adults through offering community-based, evidenced-based health promotion. For more information on tai chi, falls prevention or other health promotion classes, contact Nicole Hiegl (828) 265-5434 ext. 113 or nhiegl@regiond.org.


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Area Agency on Aging Advertises Medicare Savings Programs The High Country Area Agency on Aging has been marketing the Medicare Savings Program and Low Income Subsidy available under the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA). MIPPA was enacted in 2008, in part, to help low-income Medicare beneficiaries access programs to make Medicare premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, and prescription medications more affordable. There are many circumstances that force older and disabled adults to choose between paying for health care costs or paying for food and utilities. By calling your local SHIIP (Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program) office or Department of Social Services, you may find that you or your loved one qualifies for some assistance. The Area Agency on Aging recently sent out a targeted, direct mailing to potentially eligible households. For more information on how and where to apply for assistance, contact Diane Tilson (dtilson@regiond.org; 828-265-5434 x141).

2016 High Country COG Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy The High Country Council of Governments Executive Board adopted the 2016 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) on August 15, 2016. The CEDS is developed to provide guidance to HCCOG and its member local governments in all areas of economic development. The document is required by the US Economic Development Administration (EDA) for HCCOG to maintain its designation as an Economic Development District. The CEDS is used as a basis for guiding EDA financial investment in the High Country region.

2016 High Country COG CEDS available online www.regiond.org

To gather input on the CEDS, HCCOG staff held local input meetings in each County. At the meetings, stakeholders provided input on current programs and projects, infrastructure needs, workforce capacity, business climate, and recommended strategies. Stakeholders included local government staff, NC Cooperative Extension agents, USDA Rural Development staff, Chamber of Commerce Directors, Community College Presidents, ASU staff, High Country Workforce Development Board (HCWDB) members, private-sector business owners, and commercial lenders. The CEDS also incorporates elements of other local, regional, and State plans related to economic development, infrastructure, and workforce development. The HCWDB serves as the CEDS Strategy Committee, guiding development of the CEDS and making formal recommendation for its adoption. The CEDS contains socio-economic data for the region, information on existing infrastructure, description on industry clusters, a SWOT (Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats) Analysis, and six economic development goals. The document’s Action Plan includes 80 specific recommendations, organized within the following six economic development foundations – Workforce, Physical Infrastructure, Tourism, Industry, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and Agriculture. The Action Plan also includes recommendations on economic resiliency, and a list of regional priorities. HCCOG will begin a 5-year update of the CEDS in Fall 2020. Questions or comments on the CEDS can be directed to Phil Trew, Director of Planning and Development, (828) 265-5434 ext. 121, ptrew@regiond.org.


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Welcome New Workforce Development Board Members The High Country Workforce Development Board has recently welcomed several new members to the board. We certainly appreciate them taking the time to serve and all they do for workforce development in the High Country region! Susan Banks, Administrative Assistant, Leviton Manufacturing Co., Inc. Rebecca Carter, President/CNO, Blue Ridge Regional Hospital Paul Demmink, President, NAPCO Jeff Dreyer, Director of Manufacturing, American Emergency Vehicles Jonathan Huskins, Processing Assistant III – Maintenance, Mountain View Correctional Institution John Lyons, Plant Manager, GE Aviation Lynette Orbovich, Director, Office of Summer Session & Professional Development, Appalachian State University Sonya Trapp, Human Resources Director, Hospitality Mints Christy Wilson, Owner/Manager, NuWray Inn & Restaurant

The Alleghany Country Library and NCWorks The NCWorks Career Center in Alleghany County will soon be moving in with the Alleghany Country Library. The Alleghany Country Library will soon be moving from its current location on Main Street in Sparta to the Blue Ridge Business Development Center on Atwood Street and will enjoy more than twice its current space - space they are generously sharing with the NCWorks Career Center! Career Center staff will have two (2) offices within the library as well as computers available for job seekers to use. Completion of the construction is expected this fall with moving in to take place at the end of the year.

Entrance to the new Alleghany County Library

Two NCWorks Career Center Offices


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HCCF Continues to Grow High Country Caregiver Foundation’s (HCCF) expansion teams have been busy forming partnerships and leveraging dollars, goods and services throughout the region to raise awareness and expand caregiver programs and services. As a result, several new programs will be initiated soon. Fundraising and caregiver awareness efforts in the region included the following: • Alleghany/ Ashe expansion team organized a Shatley Springs Benefit Breakfast, a Caregiver Appreciation BBQ & Resource Fair and a Krispy Kreme sale, with plans for another Shatley Springs Breakfast in late October; • Avery/ Watauga team events included a Holiday Cookie Decorating contest, followed by a Cookie Eating Contest, both presented by Appalachia Cookie Company; the Avery and Watauga County Caregiver Appreciation Luncheons, an Avery Festival of Tables, a Community Bingo Bash at Land Harbor, organized by Lifecare of Banner Elk, and Casa Rustica’s 10th Annual Peter Pedroni Memorial Golf Tournament; • Wilkes expansion team coordinated efforts to organize a Festival of Tables and a Krispy Kreme fundraiser; • Mitchell/ Yancey expansion team organized a Festival of Tables, a Trivia Challenge, and a Mitchell/ Yancey BBQ & Resource Fair. • HCCF board members, expansions teams and community partners coordinated efforts to make its annual Celebrating Caregiving Luncheon at Linville Ridge Golf & Country Club another huge success this year. Revenues from these events, along with grant funding, donations, and leveraged resources cover the cost of HCCF direct services such as the Respite Voucher Program, the Relatives as Parents Program ( RAPP), Support Groups, Educational Programs, and Day Break. A recent grant from the Brookdale Foundation will provide for the expansion of the Relatives as Parents Program to Mitchell and Yancey counties. Additionally, a new support group for caregivers of those with memory loss, Care & Share, will host its first meeting on November 4th, in Spruce Pine. HCCGF has several other requests for funding, grants proposals, and applications for awards pending and hopes to further expand the RAPP program to eventually include the entire High Country service area. Since inception in 2007, HCCF has now awarded over 700 respite vouchers, each worth $500, to family caregivers residing in the region. Additionally, more than 100 grandparents and other kinship caregivers in Avery and Watauga counties have benefitted from our RAPP and Day Break programs and multitudes of caregivers throughout the region have attended our support groups, resource fairs, appreciation events, and educational workshops.

Volunteer • Donate • Partner www.hccgf.org


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Adverse Drug Reactions What You Need to Know

Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) are an important public health issue that deserves significant attention from consumers, medical providers, and policy makers. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adverse drug reactions cause over 700,000 emergency department visits each year, leading to nearly 120,000 patients becoming hospitalized. As people age, they typically take more medications, including over-the-counter, prescription drugs, and herbal supplements. As one takes more medications, the chance of an ADR increases significantly. In fact, patients who take eight or more medications have a 90% chance of experiencing a medication-related problem. Older adults, aged 65 and older, are twice as likely as others to experience ADRs and seven times more likely to be hospitalized after an emergency room visit. Though the statistics around adverse drug reactions are staggering, there are many steps we can take as a healthconscious community to reduce these avoidable issues. 1. Have ALL of your medications reviewed annually or after any significant medical event. The High Country Area Agency on Aging offers a program called Home Meds, which is an evidence-based, in-home medication assessment. Many local pharmacists will also offer a complete medication review to help identify potential adverse drug reactions and risks. 2. Take all medications as prescribed. This may seem simple, but is often overlooked by patients. 3. Synchronize all of your medications and have all prescriptions filled at the same time and at one pharmacy. When a patient fills their prescriptions on the same day each month, they are more likely to stay compliant with their medication prescriptions. By having only one pharmacy fill all prescriptions, then the pharmacist can keep an eye out for any potential issues. 4. Have a pharmacist conduct a Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion Evaluation. Nearly all prescription medications create a nutrient depletion, leading to avoidable side effects. Many people do not realize this is a common issue and can easily be remedied by taking the appropriate nutritional supplement. 5. Avoid taking high-risk prescription drugs. As we age, our bodies become more sensitive and prone to drug reactions. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about identifying these high-risk drugs, and if an alternative is an option. 6. Last, but certainly not least, try to reduce the number of medications you take by focusing on lifestyle-based medicine. Exercise, a whole-food based diet, stress reduction, and sleep are all keys to staying healthy and ultimately reducing the number of prescriptions medications. For more information about medication management, the Home Meds program, or health promotion classes for older adults, contact Nicole Hiegl, Aging Services Coordinator at (828) 265-5434 ext. 113 or nhiegl@regiond.org


ReCOGnition Newsletter | 17

Residents’ Rights: My Vote Matters Older adults account for a large percentage of voter turnout during elections yet residents in long-term care, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities, are far less likely to cast their ballot. Voting is a right that many residents in long-term care do not have the opportunity to exercise due to barriers such as lack of transportation to the polls, physical and cognitive impairments, complicated voter registration, and the lack of assistance or information to name a few. Voting enables residents to be engaged in issues and policies that affect them, supports a sense of dignity, and preserves resident engagement in their communities. Medicare regulations state that facilities will ‘‘protect and promote the rights of each resident, including the right to exercise his or her rights as a citizen or resident of the United States.” Fortunately, many long-term care facilities in our region are reaching out to their residents and assisting them in casting their vote. A trained bipartisan team from the board of elections in each county may assist residents with registering to vote and filling out absentee ballots. In addition, facilities will often assist residents to the courthouse if they would like to participate in the political process in person. Disability Rights North Carolina also has a bipartisan team that facilitates absentee voting for people in long-term care facilities. Lastly, resident advocates from the Long-Term Care Community Advisory Committee have delivered voter registration packets to residents in their respective counties. While many efforts are under way to enhance voter turnout in facilities, more could be done. Activities that promote voter engagement, mobile polling, and advocacy are a few ways in which we can ensure that older adults in long-term care maintain their fundamental right to vote and remain an important part of our communities.


18 | ReCOGnition Newsletter

The High Country Area Agency on Aging hosted the High Country Care Transitions Summit on Friday, September 23 at Grandfather Golf and Country Club in Linville, NC. The Summit focused on improving the transitions people experience between and among care settings. A good illustration of care transitions is when an older person falls and sustains an injury. She or he may go to the hospital via EMS, discharge to a skilled care nursing facility for rehabilitation, and then transition to home with the support of home health, community-based services, support from his or her faith-based community, and the support of a caregiver. With each of these transitions, communication and collaboration is essential for helping ensure that individual recovers fully. Providers of direct health care, community-based services, faith-based communities, and many others attended the Summit. Various speakers presented information and resources that were determined to be of high need based on a regional survey. The Summit also featured structured collaborative learning workshops. For more information, visit highcountryaging.org or contact Julie Wiggins (jwiggins@regiond.org; 828-265-5434 x122).


ReCOGnition Newsletter | 19

CDBG Commerce Fellows Grants Beech Mountain and Avery County

The Town of Beech Mountain and Avery County each received grants in the amount of $50,000 to participate in UNC-School of Government training courses that address issues related to community development. In March 2016 funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Commerce Fellows / Building Community Through Capacity and Knowledge program was announced. The program’s goal is to assist local governments with the opportunity to build capacity skills to assist with community development efforts that will eventually benefit low- and moderate-income individuals and families. The program was offered by the NC Department of Commerce through funding from US Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The training package included 8 seats in 5 UNC-School of Government courses for a combined total of 381 classroom contact hours. Accommodations are also included in the training package as well as access to 4 online training series. Grant recipients will be able to send selected employees and/or elected officials to the following courses: • • • • •

Community Development Academy – 2 seats Development Finance Toolbox – 2 seats Municipal and County Administration – 1 seat Basic Economic Development – 1 seat Effective Supervisory Management – 2 seats

In addition to the course fees and accommodations, program funds may pay for travel, meals, personnel expense associated with the program, grant preparation, and grant administration. Each applicant was required to contact and offer participation in the program to the other local governments within their County. Beech Mountain is partnering with the Town of Boone and Watauga County; both will be sending employees to training sessions. Avery County will be partnering with the Towns of Banner Elk and Newland to send selected personnel to trainings. This is the second year the NC Department of Commerce has offered this training program. In 2015 Ashe County received funding for the same courses; employees from the County and the Town of West Jefferson participated.


20 | ReCOGnition Newsletter

Essential Single Family Rehabilitation Grant Watauga County Residents

High Country Council of Governments (HCCOG) has been awarded an initial $175,000 grant from The North Carolina Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA) to administer an Essential Single Family Rehabilitation (ESFR) Program in Watauga County. The ESFR will assist eligible Watauga County homeowners with needed home repairs with a maximum award of $25,000 per house. After the initial funding is expended HCCOG may then request additional funds through a first-come, first-serve ESFR Loan Pool. The ESFR program is a modified version of the Single Family Rehabilitation (SFR) programs now active in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Wilkes, and Yancey Counties. The SFR program was a program with a primary goal of energy efficiency. However well intended, the program was unable to treat the homes in most need throughout the State. NCHFA evaluated the program and with feedback and input from its partners and recipient organizations was able to design the ESFR program. The focus of the ESFR Program is to encourage the essential rehabilitation of scattered-site, single-family housing units owned and occupied by low-income homeowners with special needs. ESFR funds are targeted to owneroccupied households with at least one elderly and/or disabled full-time household member; a home with lead hazards and a child 6-years-old or younger; or Veteran households. Household incomes must be below 80% of the area median income. For example, to be eligible for the program the annual household income for a 2-person home in Watauga County must be under $39,450. Upon completion, housing units rehabilitated under the ESFR Program must meet the more stringent of local minimum housing code or NCHFA’s Essential Property Standard. In addition the house must retain no imminent threats to the health or safety of the occupants or to the structural integrity of the units. As with the SFR programs of the past, assistance provided to eligible owner-occupants under ESFR will be offered in the form of a loan covering only the construction/repair costs associated with the rehabilitation of the unit. The loan will be a deferred, 0% interest, subordinate mortgage, forgiven at $3,000 per year until the principal balance is reduced to zero. A Deed of Trust and Promissory Note will be executed by each homeowner participating in the ESFR Program before work begins. The loan, or the unforgiven balance on the loan, will become due and payable to the Agency upon default or transfer of title. Applications for the Watauga County 2016 ESFR program will be available in November 2016 for interested homeowners in Watauga County. We are also still accepting applications for the 2015 SFR programs for homeowners located in Wilkes, Ashe, and Mitchell Counties. HCCOG plans to apply for ESFR funding for Alleghany, Avery, and Yancey Counties in 2017. As of October 2016 HCCOG has assisted two homeowners in Alleghany County, two homes in Avery are in progress and should be finished by the end of the year, and four homes in Yancey County will receive assistance before the 2014 programs are complete. The 2015 SFR programs are in progress with several applicants being processed, one home in Mitchell County is already being assisted and repairs should be complete by December 2016.

www.regiond.org/SFR.html For updates on application and information on SFR and ESFR Programs Michelle Ball, Community Development Planner mball@regiond.org | 828-265-5434 ext.115


ReCOGnition Newsletter | 21

Hudgins: Porch Before

Hudgins: Porch After (New Porch and Ramp)

Edwards: Roof Before

Edwards: Roof After

Dellinger: Roof Before

Dellinger: Roof After


22 | ReCOGnition Newsletter

GIS Subscription to ESRI’s Community Analyst High Country COG has entered into a statewide agreement, through the NC Association of Regional Councils, for a subscription to ESRI’s Community Analyst and expanded ArcGIS Online capabilities. Community Analyst is a cloudbased mapping solution that allows the user to view and analyze demographic and third-party sources of data to better understand the overall community in question and make better policy decisions. It is a powerful web-based tool for data access, visualization, and reporting. Community Analyst includes access to thousands of demographic, census, health, crime and business datasets, as well as, detailed segmentation profiles to better understand the behaviors and preferences of people living or visiting an area. Community Analyst will allow the COG to extract data for exact and unique boundary areas, beyond census geographic boundaries, such as water districts, fire districts, extra territorial jurisdictions, school districts, etc. Maps, reports and charts can be generated using Community Analyst for grant applications, marketing material, policy decision support, and mapping products. Please contact Jessica B. Welborn, GISP (828-265-5434 ext.134, jbrannock@regiond.org) for further information or to discuss how your local government could benefit from Community Analyst or ArcGIS Online.

Example of data report generated by ESRI Community Analyst


ReCOGnition Newsletter | 23

Grant Programs for Local Governments Rural Economic Development Divison of NC Department of Commerce

The Rural Economic Development Division of the North Carolina Department of Commerce offers a number of grant programs to local governments for a variety of economic development projects. Below are highlights of each: Economic Infrastructure Grants are available to local governments to assist with infrastructure projects­—including water, sewer, road, broadband, and natural gas—that will lead to the creation of new, full-time jobs. • A project can receive between $5,000 to $12,500 per job created based on company type and wages, up to $500,000. • A cash match from local sources equal to at least 5% of the grant is required. Building Demolition This program supports the demolition of a building that has been vacant for at least three years, to encourage site rehabilitation and availability for economic development purposes. • The local government must have control of the property. • There must be a reasonable expectation of private sector investment and job creation. • Maximum grant is $12,500 per projected job to be created. • Projects are eligible for up to $75,000 for buildings 100,000 square feet or less; $150,000 for buildings over 100,000 square feet. • A match of 25% of the total project cost from the local government is required. Building Reuse Funds are available to a business for the renovation of a vacant building (vacant at least three months) or the renovation or expansion of an existing building. • The project must lead to job creation. • A project can receive between $5,000 to $12,500 per job created based on company type and wages, up to $500,000. • A cash match equal to the grant amount is required. The local government must contribute at least 5% of the match. Downtown Redevelopment Fund This program will fund infrastructure upgrades of vacant or underutilized downtown commercial buildings (e.g. an unoccupied second story). The goal is to return such buildings to economic use for new and/or expanding businesses. The investment is intended to encourage job creation. • Project activities are limited to historic preservation, remediation of environmentally contaminated properties, and/or rehabilitation to meet current building code requirements. • A local government must work in conjunction with a private, for-profit business to propose a project for one or more buildings. • Grants are limited to a minimum of $300,000 and a maximum of $500,000 per unit of government. • No match is required for Tier 1 local governments. A 25% match is required for Tiers 2 and 3 local governments. Matching funds may come from the building owner, local government, or a business.

For Application Assistance and Additional Information Contact Phil Trew, Planning and Development Director ptrew@regiond.org | 828-265-5434 ext. 121


24 | ReCOGnition Newsletter

High Country RPO Priority Needs List On May 18, 2016 the High Country Rural Transportation Coordinating Committee (RTCC) and the Rural Transportation Advisory Committee (RTAC) officially approved the 2016 High Country Priority Needs List (PNL). The High Country RPO PNL is a listing of priority transportation projects (highway, bicycle and pedestrian, aviation, and transit modes) as identified by the High Country RPO for consideration in the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). The High Country RPO adopts a PNL every two years. The 2016 High Country RPO Priority Needs List was developed through a transportation project solicitation process of the 7 High Country counties and the Town of Boone. Each High Country county is encouraged to coordinate with their respective municipalities to identify transportation projects to be submitted for consideration. Each county is allowed to submit a specified number of projects for consideration which is based on North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) primary road mileage data, county area (square miles), and population data. For the 2016 High Country RPO PNL, a total of 30 projects from the 7 High Country counties and the Town of Boone were solicited. The priority transportation projects submitted as a result of the solicitation process are entered into the High Country RPO priority project scoring and ranking system. Each highway priority project is scored through the following criteria: volume to capacity ratio, crash data, facility upgrade (improvement of currently deficient roadway), comprehensive transportation plan or thoroughfare plan consistency, project status, connectivity, access to community facilities, truck traffic, and local priority status. Bicycle and pedestrian projects are scored through the following criteria: access, connectivity, safety, plan consistency, local priority. Aviation projects are scored through the following criteria: NCDOT’s Division of Aviation’s raw score and local priority. Public Transit projects are scored through the following criteria: NCDOT’s Division of Public Transit’s raw score and local priority. The High Country RPO uses the PNL as a guide to assigning points to projects at the State level. The points assigned weigh into NCDOT’s system of determining which projects get funded and scheduled in the STIP. The top 14 projects are assigned points in two separate categories – Regional Impact and Division Impact. To view the 2016 High Country Priority Needs List and associated point allocation go to http://www.regiond.org/ HCRPO-Approved-Priority-Needs-List-2016.pdf All projects on the Priority Needs List that were assigned regional or division points have been submitted to NCDOT by the High Country RPO for consideration in the STIP. NCDOT will finalize transportation project scores for all modes of transportation projects across the state during the month of November. NCDOT will prepare the draft STIP in December 2016 and release the draft STIP in January 2017. The next 2019-2029 Priority Needs List is scheduled for consideration by the High Country RPO in May 2018.

2016 High Country Priority Needs List and Associated Point Allocation


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ReCOGnition Newsletter | 25


26 | ReCOGnition Newsletter

Homeless to Home Free In his youth, Jason Winters found himself living out of his car. He had a consistent income working at Waffle House, but he knew he needed a home and was interested in pursuing an education. Seeking assistance, Jason found himself at the NCWorks Career Center in Lenoir, NC. Though they did everything they could to assist Jason, they were not in a position to enroll him in the WIOA program at that time. They reached out to the NCWorks Career Center in Wilkesboro, NC, where the youth career advisor was able to enroll him. Working with Lenoir case managers, the NCWorks in Wilkesboro was able to assist with finding Jason a placement at a homeless shelter in Lenoir called Lenoir Emergency Outreach Shelter (LEOS). LEOS goals for Jason matched the goals he had set for himself as well as the goals his case manager discussed with him. He had a roof over his head and the next step would be finding employment that could provide enough money to support Jason living on his own. Within a few short weeks LEOS was able to find employment for Jason with a landscaping company called Artistic Design Landscaping in May 2016. By July 2016 Jason was able to move into a place of his own with the assistance of LEOS and Caldwell County Yokefellow providing furnishings for his new home. Upon entering the WIOA program, Jason’s initial hope was to complete Electrical Lineman Training with Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute. After being employed with Artistic Design Landscaping, he has chosen to pursue a diploma through Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute in landscaping as this is his true passion. Jason’s current supervisor is helping him gain the skills he will need to one day become a supervisor. He is also working toward obtaining his CDL as well as applying for admission to Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute for spring of 2017. If not for Jason’s willpower and determination to pursue a better life, he could still be living in his car doing whatever he could to survive. Within about two months’ time, Jason was able to gain better employment and a roof of his own. Had it not been for the NCWorks Career Center in Lenoir, LEOS, and Yokefellow, the NCWorks Career Center in Wilkesboro could not have provided assistance with all of Jason’s needs. We are excited to assist Jason as he pursues a diploma in landscape design and will continue supporting him through WIOA services until he is able to complete his diploma.


ReCOGnition Newsletter | 27

2016 Employer Needs Survey The NCWorks Commission, the board that oversees North Carolina’s workforce development system, commissioned the NC Labor and Economic Analysis Division (LEAD) to conduct the 2016 Employer Needs Survey to update the report completed by LEAD in 2014. As with the 2014 survey, the 2016 report provided quality data for understanding the extent to which North Carolina businesses are experiencing hiring difficulties and identifies the top reasons. Thirty-nine percent (39%) of employers experienced difficulty filling at least one positon over the past year with more than half of employers reporting that lack of work experience, education, technical skills, and soft skills were the top reasons. You can see the key findings from the survey in the graphic displayed below-right.

Excerpt from 2016 Employer Needs Survey

Click on the Report Cover Above to Read the Full Document


28 | ReCOGnition Newsletter

WIA Youth Program & On-the-Job Training Great Chemistry Between Two Programs

Austin Harrell entered the WIA Youth Program in August of 2012. Being from a single-parent home, finances were very tight, so Austin’s dreams of attending college were unimaginable. His mother worked as a school bus driver and performing odd jobs in order to support herself, Austin, and her 90-year-old mother, of whom they were the primary caregivers. At that time Austin was 19 years old and had taken some college courses at Appalachian State University (ASU). However, he had been unable to return to college due to the cost, even with a Pell grant. He felt he needed to help support the family, but also knew without an education, that would be difficult. With the help of his case manager, Austin developed a plan to return to school with loan assistance he could afford to repay and with the help of WIA funding. Austin and his case manager also reviewed lots of labor market information to find the best fit with Austin’s interest in geology, research, and chemistry. In May of 2016, Austin graduated with his chemistry degree from ASU. The Business Services Representative at the NCWorks Career Center contacted Baxter’s Corporation who was willing to hire Austin through an On-the-Job Training (OJT) contract, even though he did not have work experience. He began work as a Quality Lab Associate in the Chemistry lab in August. At a starting pay of $23.55 per hour, Austin has not only found a job he loves, but a job making enough to be able to live in the local area and assist his mother and grandmother. The Mitchell County NCWorks Career Center is proud to help retain our young talent here at home! Austin Harrell


ReCOGnition Newsletter | 29

Certified Career Pathways HCWDB Receives Multiple Grants

Certified Career Pathways – Process to evaluate and develop career pathways that result in upgraded skills recognized by employers. Pathways provide career ladders for youth and adults that result in employment. The High Country Workforce Development Board has received special grant funding for the creation, development, and implementation of NC Certified Career Pathways in Health Care ($115,500) and Manufacturing ($85,050) as well as $60,000 in planning monies. Development of the pathways will be done by local teams consisting of education, workforce development, and employers and will follow eight (8) best-practice criteria. The result will make it easier for people to earn industryrecognized credentials and attain skills that can transfer into the workplace. There will be multiple points of entry and exit without duplication of already existing or attained credentials for everyone in the workforce: adults, dislocated workers, youth, and young adults.


J OB FA I R

When: Tues. October 25, 2016 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm Location: John A. Walker Center Wilkes Community College

For more information call Wilkes NCWorks Career Center 336.838.5164 Wilkes Community College 336.838.6545 Goodwill Career Connections 336.667.0889

1328 S. Collegiate Drive Wilkesboro Dress appropriately and bring your resume! Veterans are encouraged to attend. Administrative, General Labor, and Manufacturing positions available at more than 20 employers! NCWorks Career Centers : E qual Opportunity Employer/Programs - Dial 711 for Relay NC C


Notes


Meeting Schedule

High Country Council of Governments Executive Board Meeting :: 7:00 pm 3rd Monday of the Month. No meetings Jan. or Sept.

Tanna Greathouse, tgreathouse@regiond.org, x.101

Area Agency on Aging Regional Advisory Council on Aging Meets on a Quarterly Basis

Julie Wiggins, jwiggins@regiond.org, x.122

AAA Provider Meeting Meets on a Quarterly Basis

Julie Wiggins, jwiggins@regiond.org, x.122

AAA Quarterly Training :: 1:00 – 4:00 pm Training Dates Advertised

Julie Wiggins, jwiggins@regiond.org, x.122 Brenda Reece, breece@regiond.org, x. 128

Workforce Development Workforce Development Board :: 2:30 pm 2nd Thursday, Quarterly (Jul., Oct., Jan., Apr.)

Keith Deveraux, keith.deveraux@highcountrywdb.com, x.130

Planning and Development RPO Rural Transportation Advisory Committee :: 2:00 pm 3rd Wednesday, Quarterly (Feb., May, Aug., Dec.)

Phil Trew, ptrew@regiond.org, x.121 David Graham, dgraham@regiond.org, x.135

RPO Rural Transportation Coordinating Committee :: 10:00 am 3rd Wednesday, Quarterly (Feb., May, Aug., Nov.)

Phil Trew, ptrew@regiond.org, x.121 David Graham, dgraham@regiond.org, x.135

HCCOG ReCOGnition October 2016  
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