Eggers remains as county attorney
by Kellen Short
Watauga County commissioners handled several organizational issues Tuesday, including a 3-2 vote to keep Eggers, Eggers, Eggers & Eggers as the county attorneys.
Attorney Stacy "Four" Eggers has faced criticism during the past three months due to his role with the Watauga County Board of Elections, where his brother serves as chairman. Eggers, a Republican, helped his brother draft several of the divisive election resolutions approved by the board while also being tasked with serving as a neutral counsel to the board.
Commissioner Billy Kennedy, a Democrat, said Tuesday the situation made him apprehensive.
"I'm a little concerned of lack of awareness of seeming conflict of interest, but hopefully he'll do his job well," Kennedy said.
Chairman Nathan Miller said he was aware of the perceived conflict but didn't see it as such.
"I've been impressed with Mr. Eggers' work," Miller said.
Commissioners also split 3-2 in the selection of officers, with Republicans again selecting Miller as chairman and David Blust as vice chairman.
The board was unanimous in its continued employment of County Manager Deron Geouque and Clerk Anita Fogle, along with substitute clerks Monica Harrison and Tammy Adams.
Commissioners retained their current assignments to various boards and commissions and kept the same meeting schedule: 8:30 a.m. on the first Tuesday of each month and 5:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday.
Beech Mountain water intake
Watauga County resident Larry Ingle, who said he lives near the Watauga River, spoke during public comment against the town of Beech Mountain's plans for a water intake near Guy Ford Road.
The proposed intake would be used as a secondary water source for the town when its reservoir becomes depleted, as it has before during droughts, Beech Mountain officials said last month. The town expects to draw up to 2 million gallons per day from the site.
Beech Mountain is relatively early in the process and is currently seeking a reclassification of the river portion to Water Supply IV to proceed with the project.
Ingle described himself as a "river rat" who didn't want to see the river pumped dry. He said the river was valuable to kayakers and trout fishermen and questioned the town's intentions for the project.
He speculated that Beech Mountain was setting itself up to sell water, potentially blocking the county or a regional water provider from doing so.
Ingle foreshadowed a crowd at the public hearing on the reclassification set for 6 p.m. Dec. 17.
"We hope to pack this room," he said. "Very few people have understood or have even known what Beech is trying to do to our river."
The Board of Commissioners also:
-- Reviewed its fiscal year 2013 audit, presented by Kathy Mitchell of Bryce Holder CPA. "In the unassigned fund balance, the county without any revenues whatsoever could pay just over four months of its expenditures, its budgeted expenditures, so it's in pretty good shape," Mitchell said.
-- Received words of thanks and an update on OASIS from director Jennifer Herman. The agency has served 346 clients this year, and those efforts have impacted 344 children, she said.
-- Approved an out-of-state travel request from the Watauga County Sheriff's Office and agreed to draft a resolution asking the state to protect funding for the N.C. Cooperative Extension offices.
-- Accepted a contract for Dr. John Stanton to serve as medical director for emergency medical services following the departure of Dr. Tara Connelly in October.
-- Appointed Wes Eppley and Bill Hollingsworth to the Recreation Commission.
The county is seeking one at-large applicant to serve on the Watauga County Board of Adjustment, which considers zoning variances, conditional use permits and zoning appeals. The county has zoned areas in Foscoe and Valle Crucis. Board members serve three-year terms, and the board meets very rarely, sometimes less than once a year.