Request for 24/7 EMS Coverage in Blowing Rock

Dear Chairman Welch, Commissioners Kennedy, Turnbow, Wallin and Yates and County Manager Geouque,

I received and read Mr. Geouque’s reply to my letter of July 9, 2020 requesting that the County Commissioners vote on placing the new 24/7 EMS team in Blowing Rock.

A tit for tat reply will not be productive because the current rational for staffing the EMS system throughout the entire county is the core issue.

We believe that the County’s decision to base success on one Key Performance Indicator (KPI) of an average response time of 10 minutes is totally inadequate. Accepting an outcome of an average response time of 9:01 minutes for emergency calls as success means that 50% of the calls for actual people, not stat istic s, are above 9:01.

Mr. Sullivan’s 2019 Annual Report documents that only 56% of emergency calls are less than 9:00 minutes. If you live in Boone, all is well, since the average emergency call response time is 6:10 minutes. Otherwise the average emergency response times for other districts range for 10:24 to 24:51 minutes.

We ask the County Commission review your priorities and set qualitative KPIs for providing EMS services throughout the county that recognizes our Effective Population that includes both permanent census and season taxpayers and geographic responses times as the 90/9 KPI would drive. See the following link https://fems.dc.gov/page/ems-response-time to explain the 90/9 benchmark. The health and safety of all residents throughout the County is a top priority that the County should fund. Saying that the County cannot afford to expand the EMS services is not a reason to short change the health of any residents and taxpayers because of geography. Funding against priorities is a decision that should be made by the County Commission as elected officials in consultation with the County Manager. We all know you can fund what you prioritize.

Other counties achieve a much higher quality outcome than Watauga County, so the outcomes are a choice of the County Commission. You should have access to successful models and outcomes in other counties to use as examples for the Commission to consider. If not, we can provide you with contacts.

Attached is a PowerPoint presentation prepared by Chief Graham in 2014 to make a case for expanding coverage throughout the County based on a 90/9 KPI. So, the need and case for expansion for Blowing Rock has been on your table for 6 years.

Just this weekend, we had an example of inadequate response time in Blowing Rock. A hotel guest experienced a cardiac event and it took 30 minutes for the Watauga Medic’s ambulance to arrive! When it is your life at risk, averages response time is not acceptable explanation. The tourist population is an additional factor to consider when calculating Effective Population.

Finally as to “commitments”. Commitments or statements of support have been made by Commissioners in multiple meetings. I made this comment based on those who heard the “commitments” first hand. I realize that there was no vote by the County Commission evidenced in minutes, but local leaders have been led to believe that Blowing Rock would have a 24/7 EMS team if we would be patient. As the second largest Effective Population center in the county with a substantial property tax base, we believe that the time is now.

Please read my letter of July 9 th with the correction of Madison rather than Monroe County during the Public Comment section of the agenda at the July 21, 2020 meeting.

Thank you for considering our request.

Tim Gupton

Tim Gupton
President
Blowing Rock Civic Association
919-418-8555

Ask your County Commission to put new 24/7 EMS Team in Blowing Rock

July 9, 2020

Dear Chairman Welch, County Commissioners & County Manager,

I am writing on behalf of the Blowing Rock Civic Association to request that the Commission vote to approve locating the new 24/7 EMS team at the Blowing Rock station.

My observations and recommendations are based on my research, data provided by the County Manager, and consultation with EMS experts.

As you know, the leaders of Blowing Rock have asked the County for 24/7 coverage for a number of years and were told that Blowing Rock would be the next location after the new facility was built and staff in Vilas in 2017. We are now in 2021 with an opportunity to fulfill that commitment and expectation.

Investing in protecting the health and safety of our county residents is a major responsibility of the County Commission. We realize that there are a lot of demands on resources, but given that health and safety of all county residents is at the top of your priorities, we believe that placing the new 24/7 EMS team in Blowing Rock is an important next step in achieving the national standard of 90 and 9, meaning reaching 90% of the residents within in 9 minutes.

The current strategy set by the County Manager and County Commission and reflected in the contract with the provider sets a standard average response time of 10 minutes and does not address coverage of 90% of the population. These criteria do not reach or even setting a long-term goal of reaching the recognized 90/9 standard. As you know, the only way to meet the standard is to place EMS teams throughout the county like was done for the new station in Vilas. As a consequence of the current standards, the County does not meet the recognized standard of maintaining an ambulance to serve each effective population group of 10,000 of people.

Your decision making process is evidenced in the February 2017 consulting report that did not include mention of the effective population of the county. For example, Blowing Rock was set at the census population of 1,200 with little growth and did not include the additional 5,000 to 6,000 higher risk taxpayers who return to Blowing Rock in May through October. All resident taxpayers and their risk profile throughout the County should be included in setting standards use to measure results.

Currently only 57% of the response times for emergency calls are under 9 minutes, leaving 43% of the county below standard. Response times for emergency calls outside of Boone are all above 9 minutes. Boone is 6:10 minutes and all over districts range from 10:24 minutes to 24:51 minutes. Adding a 24/7 EMS team in a no cost facility already built by Blowing Rock taxpayers will decrease response times by 12% of all emergency calls bringing 69% of all emergency calls toward meeting the 90% goal. It only make sense to house EMS teams in the two concentrated population areas of the County in addition to key rural locations. The current system is too centralized to achieve a high quality outcome. This is not the fault of the contractor, but the County who sets the rules of the contract. Examples of rural counties who do achieve much higher outcomes are Caldwell County that contacts with the Blowing Rock and Monroe County that contracts with the current County contractor.

The taxpayers of Blowing Rock and the greater Blowing Rock Fire District invests $1.6 million annually in Fire & EMS services that enable the county to leverage our all paramedic EMS teams as Quick Response Vehicles with Advanced Life Support Equipment (QRV) for Delta and Echo emergency calls. This investment has allowed the county to improve the quality of emergency calls without funding. Our local investment should not be used to avoid improving our arrival and transport times to the hospital. Thank goodness we have this first responder coverage for critical emergency calls, but our teams are not allowed to transport patients to the hospital because the revenue is contracted to the third-party provider.

In summary we ask that you consider the following:

• Honor your commitments from 2017
• Adopt the 90% and 9 Minute Benchmark for the entire county and work towards raising the standards for service
• Place the new 24/7 EMS team at the Blowing Rock facility that has been provided at no additional cost to the County
• Serve the areas north of Blowing Rock with the 24/7 EMS team as appropriate
• Consider the higher risk and effective populations throughout the County in setting your standards

I am happy to speak before the Commission or with you individually. Please place this letter in the public records as part of the next board package.

Regards,

Tim Gupton
President
Blowing Rock Civic Association
919-418-8555

Time to Renew your Membership

Dear Homeowners,

COVID 19 has gripped our personal and public lives, but we must continue to advocate for changes that affect the future of our village.

You should have already received a membership renewal with a progress report through March 2020. Thank you for continuing to support the Blowing Rock Civic Association.
Since March, we have worked to end the 14 Day Quarantine for residents concurrent with the Governor’s plan, reviewed the FY21 Town budget and reviewed the Planning Board work plan that is focused implementing the Valley Boulevard Vision recommendations from the community.

Your board of directors reviewed and set our short-term priorities that we think are achievable given the limitations we face:
1. Set a vision for West Main Street
2. Advocate to upgrade EMS Services
3. Set a vision for restoration of the New River and extension for Middle Fork Greenway.

In addition to these 2020 priorities, our Advocacy Plan includes a long-term goal to eliminate the contentious Condition Use Permit that does not allow the Council to communicate or worse not consider input from the community. We believe that all citizens have a stake in significant projects in the village, not just developers. The Town should eliminate Conditional Use Permits and choose Conditional Zoning Permits as the best process insure significant projects respect and preserve the village.
Together we can be a unifying voice for the homeowners of Blowing Rock.

If you have not already yet sent your membership, please consider sending today. Memberships start at $55. Many choose to raise support to $100 or $500 and we are fortunate to have support at levels between $500 and $2,000.
Please mail your checks to Blowing Rock Civic Association at PO Box 2471, Blowing Rock, NC, 28605 or submit on our website at https://www.brcivic.org/become-a-member/

Neighbors Helping Neighbors – Rock United Relief Fund

Please take a few minutes to watch this incredible and uplifting story about the Rock United Relief Fund and the impact of neighbors helping neighbors during this difficult time for all.

https://youtu.be/-5uSTQ0bGpw

The video was produced and funded by the Blowing Rock Civic Association with a matching grant from the Mariam & Robert Hayes Charitable Trust.

Copyright © 2020 Blowing Rock Civic Association, All rights reserved.
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Our mailing address is:
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PO Box 2471
Blowing Rock, NC 28605-2471

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County Quarantine & CARES Funding

Dear Friends of Blowing Rock,

Quarantine Vote & CARES Funding
The County Commission meets tonight at 5:30 to vote on lifting the County’s additional quarantine and short-term rental restrictions in order to follow the Governor’s data-driven plan for re-opening the state. The Town of Blowing Rock has scheduled a special meeting on May 22nd to consider the County’s decision.

We recommended that the County and the Town follow the Governor’s plan and lift the quarantine when the Governor lifts the Stay-at-Home order.

Larry Turnbow is our County Commissioner representing Blowing Rock. You can contact him at Larry.Turnbow@watgov.org.

The County was awarded $1.2M from the Federal CARES Act, but unfortunately the County chose to allocate only $21K to Blowing Rock and the other small towns while allocating $200K to the hospital and $600K to the County Health Department.

I bring this to your attention as another example of the small amount of funding returned to Blowing Rock taxpayers who pay about $4.1M annually in property taxes to the County. The big county expenditures that benefit Blowing Rock are for our school and EMS services.

The County’s proposed budget includes only $12K for Davant Field, no money for our SRO officer that the Town funds, and no expansion of EMS services that are badly needed in Blowing Rock to protect the health of our residents.

Fortunately, we have a local EMS team who can be on site quickly until the County ambulance and team can arrive from Boone. The fairness and lack of motivation to address this risk is embedded in a private contract for EMS services for the County. The logic is flawed but the economics of the contract prevail to the detriment of our residents and taxpayers. Our local EMS team is highly qualified and covers the Caldwell County portion our of Town, but they cannot provide the Town of Blowing Rock full services due to the County’s contract with a private provider.

The Town requested additional EMS coverage based on a clearly documented needs-based case study and a more favorable formula for our sales tax allocation. Neither have been addressed.

Staying safe depends on each of us learning to manage our personal risks.

Tim Gupton
President

Lift the Quarantine Order – Follow the Governor’s Plan

May 9, 2020

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

Please read the letter below requesting that the Town Council schedule a meeting to vote on lifting the Quarantine Order concurrent with the Governor’s plan and timeline to lift the Stay at Home Order at the beginning of Phase 2 which may be May 22nd.

We requested the Town Clerk read the second letter at the beginning of the May 12th meeting.

We believe that County and Town should follow the Governor’s data-driven plan and timeline to re-open the state. The Town has independent authority to lift the Quarantine Order on homeowners and should do so for the reasons stated in the letters below.

The Council chose not to address the topic at the upcoming meeting on May 12th, so we sent the second letter to request that the Council schedule a special meeting to debate and vote on lifting the order before May 22nd.

You can watch the upcoming remote meeting on May 12th at 6 pm by accessing the meeting via this link: http://www.townofblowingrocknc.gov/meetings

If you wish to share your views with the Mayor and Town Council, you can email them and the Town Manager at the following addresses:

Mayor Charlie Sellers – csellers@tobr.us
Mayor Pro-Tem Sue Sweeting – ssweeting@tobr.us
Councilman Albert Yount – ayount@tobr.us
Councilman Doug Matheson – dmatheson@tobr.us
Councilman David Harwood – dharwood@tobr.us
Councilwoman Virginia Powell – vpowell@tobr.us
Town Manager Shane Fox – sfox@tobr.us

Please ask the Town Clerk to Read this Letter dated May 9th at the May 12th Meeting

May 9, 2020

Dear Mayor Sellers, Mayor Pro-Tem Sweeting, Council Members Hardwood, Matheson, Powell & Yount and Town Manager Fox,

On May 8th, we requested the Town Council include an agenda item for your meeting on May 12th to address additional County Quarantine and Short-Term Rental Orders that impact the local citizens and lodging owners, but the topic was not included in the agenda. A copy of that request is below.

We are focusing this follow-up request and communication on the Quarantine Order that affects our homeowners. Others can address the short-term rental restrictions affecting lodging owners.

In their May 5th meeting, the County cited support by the Town of Blowing Rock to extend the Quarantine Order an additional 2 weeks after the Governor lifts the Stay at Home Order. The citizens of Blowing Rock have not had the benefit of hearing your views in a public forum or communication.

We believe that the Town should follow the Governor’s data-driven plan and timeline and not add additional restrictions that are at a minimum very confusing to the public and citizens.

Homeowners returning their homes in Blowing Rock are a lower risk group who are traveling from one Stay at Home location to another. We should use this window to allow for an orderly return before the short-term rental tourists return and respectfully welcome our homeowners as citizens, not as higher risk tourists.

The Town should focus on managing the risks of the higher risk group of day tourists who have already returned, not the homeowners. Surrounding counties and towns are following the Governor’s plan and timeline, so we can expect additional day tourists from surrounding areas. The Town obviously need to provide bathrooms and supervise appropriate social distancing.

You have the authority to set restrictions for Blowing Rock that do not follow the County.

Therefore, we request that you schedule a meeting as soon as possible to vote on lifting the Quarantine Order when the Governor lifts state-wide Stay at Home Order. If you choose to wait on the County to re-evaluate the Quarantine Order at their May 19th meeting, then we suggest that you schedule a meeting now to be sure there is an appropriate window of time to vote if the Governor decides to commence Phase 2 on May 22nd.

Respectfully,

Tim C. Gupton

Tim C. Gupton
President
Blowing Rock Civic Association
235 Meadow Lane
Blowing Rock, NC 28605
919-418-8555

Lift County Quarantine Order

April 24, 2020

Honorable Members of Watauga County Commission,

I am writing on behalf of the board of directors of the Blowing Rock Civic Association to recommend that you cancel the Quarantine Order for homeowners concurrent with commencement of Phase 1 of the Governor’s data-driven decision to begin lifting restrictions.

We understood the initial need for a 14 days quarantine to reduce the risk of importing the virus and to assure the adequacy of regional healthcare resources to treat virus patients.

We now believe the time has come for lifting the restrictions on all homeowners and begin welcoming back our seasonal residents. Seasonal residents present a low risk of importing the virus since most are couples who have been under Stay at Home Orders for weeks prior to arrival and who are as likely to be concerned about managing their own risks going forward due to their age demographic.

Your decision to lift the quarantine will remove a major barrier for seasonal residents who are concerned about managing their needs during the quarantine period. Seasonal homeowners also provide the foundation for our economic base in Watauga County and Blowing Rock by paying a substantial portion of our property taxes and supporting our local businesses and charities. The local economy will be unnecessarily impacted if residents delay their return.

Currently, we have “essential workers” and tourists driving in and out of our Town who present a much higher risk than homeowners who will abide by Stay at Home rules. Managing these risks present to you a more difficult challenge than managing the risks of homeowners, but homeowners will continue to be treated as a higher risk than others if you leave the Quarantine Order in place.

We understand your decision should be data-driven as the Governor has indicated in laying out his three phased recommendation, so do not think that our recommendation does not respect your role to protect the health and safety of our residents. We believe by following the Governor’s plan you can lift your more restrictive orders starting with the Quarantine Order.

Thank you for considering our recommendation.

Tim Gupton
President
Blowing Rock Civic Association
https://www.brcivic.org/

Welcome Back

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

Spring has sprung in Blowing Rock!

The community is looking forward to your safe return.

We are all hoping to return to a “normal” or a “new normal” life as soon as possible.

I have been getting calls almost daily about returning to Blowing Rock, especially to ask about the Quarantine Order.

You should be aware that there are two levels of restrictions still in effect. The North Carolina governor issued a Stay at Home Order and Watauga County has issued a more restrictive Quarantine Order requiring all returning resident to self-quarantine for 14 days at your property. The purpose of the more restrictive order is to limit the risk of importing the virus and to protect the ability of our small healthcare system to care for patients.

The 14 day quarantine can be managed easily by bringing food and prescriptions with you supplemented by delivery of food by local restaurants and grocery stores. Neighbors are also helping neighbors as well by making runs to the grocery store and sharing all of extra cooking we are doing during this time. I included links below for local businesses and Publix to access some of the resources.

There is talk and speculation about “opening up” but no one is sure when or how that will be implemented. Our local businesses and their furlough employees do need our help. First of all they need us to spend money locally now and as they reopen. Secondly, I would encourage you to consider helping to meet the immediate local needs that I have described below.

Once you arrive, you will experience the impact much more than in your larger cities. The good news is that you will experience a desire to help because you know these people and you can directly help those in need. It is not like sending money off to a national relief organization. You can help locally.

Most all of the local service employees have lost their jobs, so the families who live paycheck to paycheck are hurting the most. Our two local food pantries are experiencing unprecedented demands. We have two food pantries located in Blowing Rock – Blowing Rock CARES at Rumple and Casting Bread at Faithbridge that are meeting the local needs in Blowing Rock and even around the county. Please consider a cash donation or contacting the food pantry to determine the need for food donations. For example, I contacted Blowing Rock CARES and learned that they have a need for cans of fruit and bags of rice.

Business owners are facing little to no revenue. Our hotels have no revenue, the retailers may have some limited online revenue or sales by appointment and some restaurants may have 10% to 15% of their normal revenue by offering pick-up and delivery.

The Village Foundation established the Rock United Relief Fund to provide small grants up to $5,000 to local businesses to help them survive and recover with their personal sacrifices and savings and Federal funds that have already “run out”. I am serving on the review and interview committee and I am inspired by our local entrepreneurs who make our small town the vibrant village we love. Imagine Blowing Rock without our fine retailers, restaurants or hotels. We rely on the businesses for our quality of life and should consider helping them in this devastating time. I have provided a link below for you to consider offering support. Many have stepped up with small and large contributions, but the need is great. So, please consider making a contribution to the Rock United Relief Fund.

Stay safe, optimistic and generous!

Tim Gupton, President
919-418-855

RESOURCE LINKS

Publix Grocery Delivery – InstaCart
https://delivery.publix.com/store/publix/storefront

Local Businesses and Restaurants with Curbside Pick-Up and Delivery
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1wE9TWKCNUgNgpTWakX4ZvdCyYxeWEv2fxmaArScPW9c/edit#gid=0

Local Food Pantries
Blowing Rock CARES – Rumple Church
http://blowingrockcares.com/wordpress/
Casting Bread – Faithbridge Church
http://www.faithbridgeumc.org/casting-bread-food-pantry.html

Rock United Relief Fund
http://villagefoundationofbr.org/rockunitedrelieffund

Support our Local Restaurants – Take Out Available

Dear Friends of Blowing Rock,

The Blowing Rock Chamber and TDA worked together to make a list of local restaurants, their new operating hours, and take out options.

You can find the information below and from this link – https://blowingrock.com/covid-19-information/

You will also find a list of retailers open on this site.

It’s so important we support our neighbors during this time!

The following Blowing Rock restaurants are offering take-out! Hours may vary or change depending on staffing and operations.
Bistro Roca
828-2955-4008
143 Wonderland Trail
12-8 pm Wed-Mon
Take out or delivery! Online ordering from website or Facebook
Follow on Facebook for updates

Blowing Rock Ale House
828-414-9600
152 Sunset Drive
11:30am-8pm Thurs-Sun
Open for carry-out food and beer. Call to order. Can include 6-packs or growlers with order!
Follow on Facebook for updates

Blowing Rock Market
828-414-9322
990 Main Street
9am-6pm daily
Deli orders to go. Call-in or order online!
Follow on Facebook for updates

Camp Coffee
828-372-2070
921 Main Street
7am-6pm daily
Order coffee to-go. Online orders for whole bean coffee available.
Follow on Facebook for updates

Chestnut Grille at Green Park Inn
828-414-9230
9239 Valley Boulevard
8-9:30am Mon-Fri & 7:30-10am Sat-Sun (breakfast), 5-9pm Fri-Sat
Offering to go orders for breakfast and limited dinner menu.
Follow on Facebook for updates

El Rincon
828-414-9784
870 Main Street
10am-5pm Fri-Sat, 10am-3pm Sun
Offering take out, curbside pickup, and free delivery within 5 miles!
Follow on Facebook for menu and updates

Foggy Rock
828-295-7262
8180 Valley Boulevard
11:30am-8pm Mon-Sat
Offering take out and curbside pickup with a limited menu.
Follow on Facebook for updates

Mellow Mushroom
828-295-3399
946 Main Street
11:30am-8:30pm daily
Offering take out orders from the full menu. Online ordering available!
Follow on Facebook for updates

Moon Thai Sushi
828-414-9905
7179 Valley Boulevard
11:30am-3pm & 4:30-9pm daily, open til 9:30pm Fri & Sat
Pick up orders available, full menu on website

New Public House
828-295-3487
239 Sunset Drive
11am to 8pm daily
Special menu with family meals available. Free to-go kids’ breakfast every day. Curb-side pick up, local delivery available.
Follow on Facebook for updates

Outback Steakhouse
828-295-6283
8280 Valley Boulevard
4-8pm Mon-Thur, 4-10 pm Fri, 11am-10pm Sat, 11am-8pm Sun
Order online or call in order, curbside pickup and delivery available.
Follow on Facebook for updates

Papa Joe’s Italian American Restaurant
828-295-3239
8062 Valley Boulevard
Open daily
Carry out available
Follow on Facebook for updates

Restaurant at Gideon Ridge
828-295-3008
202 Gideon Ridge Road
Tues-Sun
Serving take-out, call to order by 4pm the day before pickup. Menu on website.
Follow on Facebook for updates

Ridgeline
828-414-9922
8960 Valley Boulevard
11:30am-9pm Fri & Sat, 10am-9pm Sun, 11:30am-4pm Mon
Carry out available
Follow on Facebook for menu and updates

Savannah’s Oyster House
828-414-9354
155 Sunset Drive
11am-9pm daily
Family meals for 4-6 people, plus full menu to go. Curbside pickup and free delivery available.
Follow on Facebook for updates

Six Pence Pub
828-295-3155
1121 Main Street
11am-10pm daily
Offering menu for take out, plus bottled beer & wine.

Speckled Trout Restaurant & Bottle Shop
828-295-9819
922 Main Street
12-8pm, Thurs-Mon
Full menu plus bottled beer & wine. Online ordering for curbside pickup!
Follow on Facebook for updates

Subway
828-295-7827
8433 Valley Boulevard
10am-7pm daily
To-go service, order online or at the counter.

Sunny Rock
828-414-9636
8146 Valley Boulevard
8:30am-1:30pm Mon-Sat
To go and curbside service with a limited menu. Gift cards available for later visits.
Follow on Facebook for updates

Town Tavern Blowing Rock
828-295-7500
1182 Main Street
11am-9pm daily
Offering take out. Details on Facebook about loyalty program.
Follow on Facebook for updates

Twigs Restaurant
828-295-5050
7956 Valley Boulevard
5:30-9:30 pm Tues- Sun, open til 10pm Fri & Sat
Curbside pickup orders for full menu. Delivery available for Blowing Rock area
Follow on Facebook for updates

Woodlands BBQ
828-295-3651
8304 Valley Boulevard
12-7pm, Wed-Sun
Full menu except Mexican & Appetizers available for carry out.
Follow on Facebook for updates

Copyright © 2020 Blowing Rock Civic Association, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you opted in via our website.

Our mailing address is:
Blowing Rock Civic Association
PO Box 2471
Blowing Rock, NC 28605-2471

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You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.