Paul H. Broyhill Community Service Award – Southern Gateway Greenspace

Paul H. Broyhill Community Service Award

Blowing Rock Civic Association, Inc.

Southern Gateway Greenspace
Harper Sisters – Friends & Neighbors

Broyhill Park
September 16, 2021

Enjoy video presentation at https://www.brcivic.org/videos/

A mutual love of Blowing Rock resulted in a commitment to stewardship and  significant conservation achievement through the leadership of residents in co-operation and partnership with the Winkler Organization, Town of Blowing Rock, Village Foundation, Blowing Rock Civic Association
and NC Land Trusts advisors

 

 

Wayne Vason, Lee Harper Vason, John Winkler & Anne Harper Bernhardt

24/7 TRANSPORT AMBULACE SERVICE – YOUR OPINION COUNTS

 

September 17, 2021
 
Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners

I am sure you have been following the quest to secure a 24/7 transport ambulance service for Blowing Rock.

SURVEY

As mentioned in our post on August 6th, we would like to share your opinion with the Town Council.   After you read the DISCUSSION below, please REPLY to info@brcvic.org  with a YES or NO response to the following survey question:
 
Do you support a compromise subsidy to fund a 24/7 transport ambulance dedicated to serve the Town of Blowing Rock and the Blowing Rock Fire District?

Comments with your reply are welcome. We will not share your name.

DISCUSSSION

In October, the Town Council will be considering next steps to negotiate with the County to provide a 24/7 transport ambulance stationed in Blowing Rock.

As the primary taxpayers and citizens who need 24/7 transport ambulance service, the Town Council needs to hear your opinion since the proposal under consideration will require a subsidy to the County funded by the Town and Fire District.

The state delegates transport ambulance service to the County, and the County contracts for ambulance service to a private for-profit company which hampers expansion.  The County measures success by only one factor based on the average response time throughout the County.  The best practice is to set a success two factors that drive quality – Reach 90% within 9 minutes.

The ambulance systems is based in Boone, so other parts of the County like Blowing Rock do not have adequate service.  For example, response time to Boone is 6 minutes but 12 minutes to Blowing Rock and worse throughout the County. The County is asking other areas to subsidize the County system, but is not requesting Boone to subsidize their service.

After we raised the issue again last summer, the Town and County are in negotiations to figure out how to provide 24/7 ambulance and team stationed in Blowing Rock to serve Blowing Rock and the Blowing Rock Fire District (50 square miles).   Recently, Beech Mountain agreed to subsidize 24/7 ambulance service for their citizens.

Some argue that we should not compromise to pay a subsidy to the County under the “Double Taxation” principle. Others argue that the cost of subsidy is a minor cost to pay to remove the risk to our healthcare.

We have advocated supporting a compromise solution requiring the Town and Fire District to subsidize the cost of providing 24/7 transport ambulance service
Watauga Medics provided a cost estimate of approximately $500,000 which gives the Town a starting point for negotiating a contract with the County.

We recommended that the Town and Fire District share equally in funding the increased cost.  Since the County already provides a 9/5 transport ambulance, the County should continue to fund at least 25% of the cost.

A key condition of the new commitment should include restricting the use of dedicated transport ambulance for convalescence trips.

So, what does this mean to you as taxpayers?

The worst case scenario is that the Town would be required to fund 50% of the cost or $250,000 with property taxes.  This is not probable since the County already funds 25% of the cost by providing a 9/5 transport ambulance and the probability that other sources of revenue will be available to the Town.

So, the worst case scenario is that the Town would assess 2 cents of property taxes to fund $250,000.  The cost to homeowners could be $100 per year for a house valued at $500,000, but probably less.

We hope the survey and background discussion will help you help the Town Council negotiate a solution to this long term problem.

Regards,

Tim  Gupton

Town Council Meeting Agenda – September 16 2021

September 11, 2021

Town Council Agenda

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

The Town Council will meet on Tuesday, September 14th, at 6PM.

The summary agenda is provided below.

You can read the entire meeting package at the following link to the Town’s website.

https://www.townofblowingrocknc.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/10567

The Council will consider Mrs. Powell’s resignation, conduct a public hearing on Green Hill Estates Subdivision after approval by the Planning Board with conditions and consider a parking adjustment requested by the new owners of the Moody Building on Sunset Drive to accommodate conversion of the building to 2 short term rental units and retail.

AGENDA
1. CALL TO ORDER – ROLL CALL FOR ATTENDANCE Mayor Charles Sellers

2. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE Mayor Charles Sellers

3. SPECIAL ITEM, MINUTES & AGENDA
1. SPECIAL ITEM – Virginia Powell – Resignation
2. APPROVAL OF MINUTES – By Roll Call 1. August 10, 2021 – Regular Meeting Minutes 2. August 24, 2021 – Special Meeting
3. REGULAR AGENDA ADOPTION – Mayor & Council Mayor & Council Mayor & Council Mayor & Council

4. PUBLIC COMMENTS

5. PUBLIC HEARING: – Green Hill Estates Subdivision Planning Director Kevin Rothrock

6. REGULAR AGENDA
1. 140 Sunset LLC – Planning Director Kevin Rothrock Mayor and Council
2. COVID Discussion

7. OFFICIALS REPORTS & COMMENTS: 1. Mayor 2. Council Members 3. Town Attorney 4. Town Manager

8. CLOSED SESSION – Pursuant to NCGS 143-318.11. (a)(5) Discussion of potential property acquisition.

Regards,

Tim Gupton
President

Your Vote Counts!

August 30, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

Your Vote Counts!
November 2nd will be our election day for the Mayor and three Town Council seats.

Candidates
Mayor Charlie Sellers is running unopposed.

Four candidates are running for three Town Council seats:
• Nancy Collins
• Pete Gherini
• Doug Matheson
• Melissa Pickett

Voter History
The turnout for an off year election is typically 35% of registered voters, compared to 83% for a national election. Low municipal turnouts underline the importance of each vote.

Only 425 voters cast a ballot during the 2019 election. Races are won by a very small margin of votes, usually less than 50 votes.

Voter Registration
Many of our homeowners have a choice as to our voter registration. Your one vote counts in Blowing Rock!

We plan to request each candidate to answer and publish a series of questions dealing with issues important to homeowners. A Candidate Forum has been scheduled for October 7th depending on conditions.
Voter registration can impact this election, so please Register to Vote!

The voter registration deadline if October 8th. You can register to vote in various ways as explained on the Watauga County Board of Elections website at https://www.ncsbe.gov/registering/how-register

You can register online through DMV as you renew or change your driver’s license address or you can download the application and mail or hand deliver to the Watauga County Board of Elections. To print your application go to the following link to fill out a PDF form.
http://www.wataugacounty.org/App_Pages/Dept/BOE/Forms/NC_Voter_Registration_Form_English.pdf

Voter Demographics – Now and in the Future
There are just under 1,300 registered voters in Blowing Rock made up of 27% democrats, 38% republicans, 34% unaffiliated voters. Municipal elections are non-partisan. Interestingly, 37% of the voters are over 70 years old and 37% are between 60 and 69 years old.

During the November 2020 national election 1,068 (82%) people voted along party lines, but during the November 2019 municipal election only 425 (32%) people voted. So, getting out the vote and registering new voters is key to a successful candidacy.

Anecdotally, we know that there are more people since COVID moving to Blowing Rock full-time including retirees and a number of younger families who have registered for our Blowing Rock School. We can reasonably expect the voter demographics to change over the next few years, if not this year.

Regards,

Tim Gupton
President

24/7 Transport Ambulance Proposal

August 18, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

Beech Mountain is dealing with the same 24/7 transport ambulance service that we are in Blowing Rock.

This article in the Watauga Democrat describes the compromise funding solution that the taxpayers of Beech Mountain will have to fund. See the following link. As we have discussed

https://www.wataugademocrat.com/news/council-discusses-use-of-emergency-response-unit-for-out-of-town-calls/article_1c9d19b1-1f4f-5677-b6b2-00abb4c18dd8.html

As we have discussed in many posts and at our community ambulance meeting on July 22nd, the Town Council is faced with having to choose between continuing a 40 year stand-off with the County under the “Double Taxation” principle or agreeing to a compromise subsidy to secure 24/7 transport ambulance service.

After careful deliberation, our Board of Trustees recommends that the Town Council negotiate a compromise subsidy with the County containing the following key conditions:
Station a 24/7 ambulance and team at Fire & Rescue building on Valley Boulevard
Substantially limit convalescence service by this team
Share funding 50/50 between the Town and the Blowing Rock Fire District
Include a plan to phase out the subsidy over a reasonable time frame
While a subsidy seems unfair given our County taxes, prioritizing the health and safety of our residents and visitors should the goal.

Hopefully our advocacy over the last two years to secure a 24/7 transport ambulance service has helped prompt our Town and County elected officials to reach a solution.

Regards,

Tim Gupton

Green Hill Estates – Planning Board – August 12th

August 16, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

On August 19th, The Planning Board will be reviewing a Special Use Permit (SUP) for new 10 lot subdivision on Green Hill Road, called Green Hill Estates.

We are trying to make the community aware of proposed projects as soon as we have information to share. The window is generally very short as the agendas are published usually Friday before a meeting on the following Thursday. The time to react is very short when the project is a SUP rather than a Special Zoning Permit (SZP) that essentially encourages community input.

As you now know, a SUP is a quasi-judicial hearing process by the Town Council after approval by the Planning Board. Remember that Rainey Lodge and Heather Ridge were long and contentious examples of the quasi-judicial approval process that does not allow the community to communicate with the Town Council. Anyone who comments must have standing and realistically representation by legal counsel to compete with developers who use the SUP process to their advantage. So, basically your comments can only be considered at the Planning Board Meeting this Thursday. All major subdivision approvals are SUP so the developer really has no other alternative other than to voluntarily call a meeting of the community to gain input before submitting the project to the Planning Board which was not done in this case.

The agenda for this project and the supporting documents are available for you to review on the Town’s website at https://www.townofblowingrocknc.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/10557/637644579461184289

The project is in the watershed and comes at a time when the Town and community is awaiting the Green Hill Traffic Study. We have learned that the Land Use Code does not require much in the way of protecting the watershed and is focused on quantity of water rather than quality of water. Declaration of variances is an important fiduciary responsibility of the Planning Director and Planning Board.

Regards,

Tim Gupton & Marshall Sealey

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24/7 Transport Ambulance – Unacceptable Risk!

August 8, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

RE: 24/7 County Transport Ambulance Service – Unacceptable Risk!

We hope you have been following quest to secure quality transport ambulance service in Blowing Rock and throughout the County.

Blowing Rock Civic Association hosted a community meeting to educate our homeowners on July 22nd. You can watch the full one hour video to learn the facts and hear questions from the audience. A link to the video is
https://youtu.be/abKggHcSJv0

You also can fast forward through the video to these key sections –
• Welcome by Tim Gupton
• Introduction by Mayor Sellers at 6:50 minutes
• Presentation by Town Manager Shane Fox at 11:00 minutes
• Comments by Chuck Mantooth, CEO of Appalachian Regional Hospital at 37:30 minutes
• Q&A at 41:40 minutes

You will learn that we have paramedic first responder services by Blowing Rock Fire& Rescue and quality emergency services by Appalachian Regional Hospital, but a WEAK LINK in the middle from the County Transport Ambulance Service that presents an unacceptable health risk, double taxation and inequity throughout the County.

We and all areas outside of Boone have inferior service that results in at least twice the response time compared to Boone. Boone’s average response time is 6 minutes and Blowing Rock is 12 minutes. Other areas in the County are worse. Why isn’t Boone paying a subsidy as being suggested to Blowing Rock and Beech Mountain?
This situation is due to the budget decisions and priorities set by the County Commissioners with no strategic plan to expand transport ambulance services equitably throughout the county. Equitable county wide ambulance services should be the number one issue for the election of County Commissioners in 2022 if not resolved before the election.

The County also measures success by only one factor based on the average response time throughout the County. The best practice is to set a success two factors that drive quality – Reach 90% within 9 minutes, not one factor that excuses the longer response times throughout the County.

After we raised the issue again last summer, the Town and County are in negotiations to figure out how to provide 24/7 ambulance and team stationed in Blowing Rock to serve the Blowing Rock Fire District (50 square miles). The Ball is in their Court!

The irony is that Blowing Rock already pays for the service in the $5M in property taxes that we send to Watauga County. Some argue that we should not compromise to pay a subsidy to the County under the “Double Taxation” principle. Others argue that the cost of subsidy is a minor cost to pay to remove the risk to our healthcare.

Let’s say you have a heart attack or stroke! Here is what happens:
1. The Blowing Rock Fire & Rescue paramedics arrive within 4 to 6 minutes to stabilize the patient
2. The Watauga Medic transport ambulance arrives on average in 12 minutes ( 6 minutes in Boone) and often longer, and
3. The Appalachian Regional Hospital is in communication from the beginning and ready to care for the patient with response times that are better than national average.

The solution is to station a dedicated 24/7 transport ambulance in Blowing Rock that is not pulled away for convalescence service.

I am sure you share our frustration that our elected leaders cannot agree on a solution to this 40 year problem. Our health should not be a political issue.

You need to decide and weigh in as the Town negotiates with the County. Please let your Town Council members know your view. A link to email contacts for the Town Council is https://www.brcivic.org/council-members/ .

We will be sending a separate post to survey your opinion to share with the community and Town Council.

Regards,

Tim Gupton

Roger Brooks Interim Report on Tourism Study

July 20, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

Roger Brooks presented his interim recommendations to the community last week. You can take the survey and review the video of the meeting using the links below provided by the Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority.

This is your opportunity to participate in the process and share your views. Over 500 responses have been received to date.

Take the Survey & Share!

The Blowing Rock TDA wants to hear from residents, business owners, and locals as we work toward a Sustainable Tourism Management Plan. A survey of just nine questions is available through July. These are not multiple-choice questions; the open-ended format allows respondents to give full opinions and suggestions. Complete the survey here:

bit.ly/LifeInBlowingRock

Please share this link with your employees, local friends, and even out-of-town family & friends that visit you! This link is case sensitive, so note that if typing into a browser.

Survey closes at the end of the month.

Public Progress Report Video Available

The Public Progress Report from Thursday, July 15th is now available to watch online. Roger Brooks shared some of the patterns already appearing in questionnaire responses, and answered some questions from those in attendance.

State of the Town Meeting

August 2, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

The Town and Chamber are sponsoring the State of the Town update on August 12th.

See Invitation from the Chamber of Commerce and Town of Blowing Rock.