County hands over docs to Boone
by Anna Oakes
The Watauga County government on Oct. 25 completed a public records request from the town of Boone, handing over more than 1,600 pages and a flash drive of documents.
Oct. 25 marked four months and eight days after Boone Town Manager Greg Young sent a June 17 letter to the county seeking the documents on behalf of the mayor and Boone Town Council.
However, the county fulfilled a significant portion of the request on Sept. 12, providing 1,583 pages of documents to the town. The remaining portion, which had not yet been picked up as of Tuesday morning, included approximately 97 pages and the flash drive, said Anita Fogle, clerk to the Watauga County Board of Commissioners.
Deron Geouque, Watauga County manager, said the request took some time to process because "it was a good amount of information" and the county does not have a staff position dedicated to records requests.
"We have limited staff, and we have multiple requests, especially coming from you and other citizens," Geouque said. "I think it's pretty comparable to how long it takes the town (of Boone) to respond to some of their requests, too."
Boone sought records created or received by any county commissioner, officer or employee during the past three years related to:
1. the county's sale of the old high school and any offers or counter-offers; the propriety of Commissioner Perry Yates to participate in decisions related to the sale; and any records related to any conflict of interest any commissioner has or might have with respect to the sale of the property;
2. the decision to change the sales tax revenue distribution method, including any record relating to the effect upon any other entity, including any record involving any communication with Blowing Rock, Seven Devils, Beech Mountain relating to any arrangement to return money to Watauga County; and
3. Commission Chairman Nathan Miller's threat that he or the county was considering a lawsuit to challenge any aspect of the legality of the town of Boone's multi-family housing standards.
In addition, the town requested a copy of every document provided to the Watauga Democrat by the county or any commissioner, county officer or county employee since March 1, 2013.
In May, June and August, the Boone Town Council discussed legal action against Watauga County in closed session. The stated purpose of the closed session discussions was "to consider and give instructions concerning the handling or settlement of a claim or judicial action against Watauga County."