1978 to 2020- EMS Battle – 42 Years in the Making

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

Last week, the Watauga Democrat published an article in their “The Week in the Archives” about Blowing Rock’s struggle in 1978 to provide adequate ambulance transport service.

Oct. 5, 1978
“Blowing Rock Residents Gripe About Ambulance Service” read a headline in the Oct. 5, 1978, Watauga Democrat. “Mayor Hayden Pitts led a delegation of prominent Blowing Rock citizens who attended the county commissioners meeting on Monday to complain about county ambulance service to Blowing Rock,” the article began.

Also, last week the Town Council voted to reaffirm their 2012 resolution asking the County to provide full-time EMS service for Blowing Rock.

I was shocked to learn that this battle goes back 42 years!

As citizens and taxpayers throughout the County from Meat Camp to Deep Gap to Blowing Rock and all areas outside of Boone, we deserve equal service especially for life and death emergency calls.

If the County chooses not to change their EMS policy, the citizens and hopefully the Town Council will have to explore alternative funding solutions to protect our citizens and taxpayers.

We are exploring alternative strategies to bring pressure on the County Commission to address this critical need throughout the County. Blowing Rock and other areas of the County should not have to raise local funding for a service that should be provided by the County per their authority and responsibility delegated from the state. If the County cannot honor their franchise rights, we must challenge their rights to retain the franchise.

We were promised by Chairman Welch that the topic will be included on the agenda of their Winter Retreat. We anticipate that the Town Council will also include the topic on their Winter Retreat. All citizens need to be prepared for these Winter Retreats to advocate for equal EMS service throughout the entire County.

Please share your thoughts.

Tim Gupton
President

County Commissioners Must Prioritize Entire County

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners

Please read our Letter to the Editor of the Watauga Democrat commenting on the need for our County Commissioners and Candidates to prioritize needs of entire County.

The Link and our letter follows.

LINK TO WATAUGA DEMOCRAT
https://www.wataugademocrat.com/opinion/letters_to_editor/letter-to-the-editor-commissioner-candidates-must-prioritize-entire-county/article_aae00f7a-390a-5eba-bd14-275b069ad2d2.html

LETTER TO EDITOR
On Sept. 24, I read the article, VOTE 2020, about the five candidates running for three open seats on the Watauga County Commission.

I would encourage everyone to read the candidate responses to eight questions.

My comments are written from the perspective of advocating for the homeowners and taxpayers in Blowing Rock who contribute more than $4 Million in property taxes to the county’s budget, and who have serious issues such as EMS services that are the responsibility of the County Commission. You can read our Advocacy Plan at www.brcivic.org.

The candidates are

1) District 1 – New candidates Carrington Pertalion (D) & Todd Castle (R);

2) District 2 — John Welsh (D) – Incumbent unopposed;

3) District 5 – Charlie Wallin (D) Incumbent & Bart Keller (R).

One of the overall observations from reading this article about the candidates and the election is that the county has a responsibility to all taxpayers in the County and the issues are not about only Boone. Candidates are elected by countywide vote, but represent districts. The focus of the questions on Boone by the journalist highlights one of our fundamental representation challenges in the county, since Boone voters essentially elect the county commission.

Funding Priorities: Funding should be tied to priorities. Public health and safety and education are the accepted Top 2 priorities.

All other priorities of the county commissioners follow and should not detract from their primary responsibilities to funding the Top 2 priorities.

EMS Ambulance Service: Fortunately for the taxpayers outside of Boone, John Welsh, Charlie Wallin and Todd Castle mentioned support for expanding ambulance transport services throughout the county. Due to the county’s current policy, ambulance service outside of Boone is substantially underserved.

There are no stations or full-time crews to serve the taxpayers in the northern or southern parts of the county. Boone’s average emergency response time is 6 minutes compared to 10 to 25 minutes for areas outside of Boone. The current policy does not include a geographic performance benchmark to insure adequate coverage as recommended in the national standard 90/9 to cover 90 percent of citizens within 9 minutes.

If you have a life threatening event such as a stroke or heart attack, you rely on first responders to stabilize the patient and wait for the transport ambulance to show up. Public safety and health should be the No. 1 priority of all elected officials.

Promote Small Business: The concept of helping small businesses should include recruiting families to live in the county and work remotely. Our broadband service is essential for this to be successful and for all children throughout the county to have access for education.

Young families now more than ever can choose a “hometown” quality of life if we have quality schools and broadband.

Cooperation with All Towns: One question challenged the candidates to develop a better relationship with Boone. In addition to Boone, both John Welch mentioned the need to work with all towns and Charlie Wallin specifically mentioned the need to work with Blowing Rock, Seven Devils and Beech Mountain.

Boone Parking Garage: Funding for ambulance service and education needs far exceed parking improvements in Boone.

If the county were to partner with Boone to build a parking deck, why shouldn’t the county do so in Blowing Rock to solve parking problems caused by overwhelming numbers of day-tourists?

This is not a county problem to fund or solve. Perhaps the university and related rental developers should be the primary partner for solving parking problems created in downtown Boone.

COVID Protections: We agree with Carrington Pertalion that the county should follow the governor’s plan.

We opposed the county’s 14 day quarantine because it was not in sync with the governor’s plan and it focused on penalizing homeowners who were not the high-risk population that needed to be managed. The county finally decided to follow the governor’s plan.

Tim Gupton, president,
Blowing Rock Civic Association

2020 Candidate Forum- Ask Questions

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

The annual Watauga County Meet the Candidates Forum is scheduled for Thursday, October 1st, from 5:30 – 9:30pm, and will be broadcast live from the Appalachian Theatre in Downtown Boone.

The event is co-hosted by the Boone Area & Blowing Rock Chambers of Commerce.

YOU CAN SUBMIT QUESTIONS – Members of the community are encouraged to submit questions in advance by emailing info@boonechamber.com.

We have submitted a question for the County Commission Candidates about changing the County’s EMS policy to improve transport ambulance response times throughout the County. We believe that this issue is critical to our homeowner and tourism econconomy.

As this event is hosted by two Chambers of Commerce, questions will allow for candidates to inform the local business community about their platform, goals, and objectives.

Questions will be asked by a moderator and will come from audience submission as well as suggestions from the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce Government Relations Committee and the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce Community and Government Committee.

Candidates running for US House of Representatives, Watauga County Commissioner, North Carolina State House & Senate, and the Watauga County Board of Education have been invited to participate.

In compliance with the North Carolina Safer-at-Home order, members of the public will not be allowed inside the venue this year, due to the limits on indoor gatherings. Instead, this event will be broadcast live, in its entirety, on AppTV, YouTube TV, and WATA (1450 AM / 96.5 FM). Archives of each segment of the forum will be made available on Boone Area Chamber of Commerce platforms following the event.

The projected schedule and an updated list of candidate RSVPs are available below:

Schedule of Candidates:
(bold indicates candidate has confirmed attendance as of 8/20)

5:30 – Welcome & Introductions

5:35 – Candidates for US House of Representatives

Virginia Foxx (R) (I)
David Wilson Brown (D)
6:35 – Candidates for Watauga County Commissioner

District 1

Carrington Pertalion (D)
Todd Castle (R)
District 2

John Welch (D) (I)
District 5

Charlie Wallin (D) (I)
Bart Keller (R)
7:35 – Candidates for NC Senate, NC House of Representatives

NC Senate

Deanna Ballard (R) (I)
Jeanne Supin (D)
NC House of Representatives

Ray Russell (D) (I)
Ray Pickett (R)
8:35 – Candidates for Watauga County Board of Education

Steve Combs (I)
Marshall Ashcraft
Jason Cornett
Ronny Holste
Format:

Questions will be asked of all the candidates in a ‘round robin’ format; each having an opportunity to answer first, but all answering the same question.

All questions will be asked by the moderator. Each response will have a 90-second time limit and each candidate will have a 2-minute opening and closing statement.

This forum is not intended to be a debate between candidates, but rather an opportunity for the citizenry to hear each candidate’s position on topics important to all.

In order to maintain decorum, political literature and signage will not be allowed in the room.

Please contact David Jackson at 828-264-2225 with any further questions.

Link for more Information
https://www.boonechamber.com/events/2020-meet-the-candidates-fourm?fbclid=IwAR20JDASHEBMTQRtvUb1GshbomwrhPqe4hrjVu3iVRqNQgkHvDOofNYDnGw

Watauga County Commission Candidates – Letter to Editor

September 24, 2020

Dear Watauga Democrat Editor,

Today I read the article, VOTE 2020, about the five candidates running for three open seats on the Watauga County Commission.

I would encourage everyone to read the candidate responses to eight questions. See the link for the article below if you subscribe to the Watauga Democrat.

https://www.wataugademocrat.com/election/on-the-issues-watauga-county-commissioner-candidates/article_5dbe5f1c-ddcc-5785-894f-66c84d02a9e4.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=email&utm_campaign=user-share

My comments are written from the perspective of advocating for the homeowners and taxpayers in Blowing Rock who contribute over $4 Million in property taxes to the County’s budget and who have serious issues like EMS services that are the responsibility of the County Commission. You can read our Advocacy Plan at www.brcivic.org .

The candidates are:

1) District 1 – New candidates Carrington Pertalion (D) & Todd Castle (R)
2) District 2 – John Welsh (D) – Incumbent unopposed
3) District 5 – Charlie Wallin (D) Incumbent & Bart Keller (R)

One of the overall observations from reading this article about the candidates and the election is that the County has a responsibility to all taxpayers in the County and the issues are not about just Boone. Candidates are elected by county-wide vote but represent districts. The focus of the questions on Boone by the journalist highlights one of our fundamental representation challenges in the County since Boone voters essentially elect the County Commission.

Funding Priorities – Funding should be tied to Priorities. Public health and safety and education are the accepted top 2 priorities. All other priorities of the County Commissioners follow and should not detract from their primary responsibilities to funding the top 2 priorities.
EMS Ambulance Service – Fortunately for the taxpayers outside of Boone, John Welsh, Charlie Wallin and Todd Castle mentioned support for expanding ambulance transport services throughout the County. Due to the County’s current policy, ambulance service outside of Boone is substantially underserved. There are no stations or full-time crews to serve the taxpayers in the northern or southern parts of the County. Boone’s average emergency response time is 6 minutes compared to 10 to 25 minutes for areas outside of Boone. The current policy does not include a geographic performance benchmark to insure adequate coverage as recommended in the national standard 90/9 to cover 90% of citizens within 9 minutes. If you have a life threatening event like a stroke or heart attack, you rely on first responders to stabilize the patient and wait for the transport ambulance to show up. Public safety and health should be the number one priority of all elected officials.
Promote Small Business – The concept of helping small businesses should include recruiting families to live in the County and work remotely. Our broadband service is essential for this to be successful and for all children throughout the County to have access for education. Young families now more than ever can choose a “Hometown” quality of life if we have quality schools and broadband.
Cooperation with All Towns – One question challenged the candidates to develop a better relationship with Boone. In addition to Boone, both John Welch mentioned the need to work with all towns and Charlie Wallin specifically mentioned the need to work with Blowing Rock, Seven Devils and Beech Mountain.
Boone Parking Garage – Funding for ambulance service and education needs far exceed parking improvements in Boone. If the County were to partner with Boone to build a parking deck, why shouldn’t the County do so in Blowing Rock to solve parking problems caused by overwhelming numbers of day-tourists? This is not a County problem to fund or solve. Perhaps the university and related rental developers should be the primary partner for solving parking problems created in downtown Boone.
COVID Protections – We agree with Carrington Pertalion that the County should follow the Governor’s Plan. We opposed the County’s 14 day quarantine because it was not in sync with the Governor’s Plan and it focused on penalizing homeowners who were not the high-risk population that needed to be managed. The County finally decided to follow the Governor’s Plan.
Submitted by

Tim Gupton
President
Blowing Rock Civic Association

Paul Broyhill Public Service Award – David Goodson

September 11 2020

Blowing Rock Homeowners,

At the Annual Meeting of the Blowing Rock Civic Association, we announced the first recipient of The Paul H. Broyhill Community Service Award at its annual meeting September 10th—their first annual meeting on Zoom due to concerns over in-person gatherings with the Covid-19 virus.

In the meeting, BRCA member David T. Goodson was honored with the award for his help in correcting issues he saw with the just completed Valley Boulevard project, US 321 passing through Blowing Rock.

David Goodson owns Goodson and Associates, a Wake Forest NC business dealing with horticulture for a wide range of clients.

Goodson, just at the end of the 2019 annual meeting of the BRCA, took Town Manager Shane Fox aside to tell of his concerns over the foliage along the roadway, noting trees and shrubbery that seemed to be in distress, according to BRCA Chairman, George Wilcox. Fox told the gathering, “David and I took several half-day field trips, examining, categorizing trees and shrubs along Valley Boulevard.” He said, “After a full review by Mr. Goodson, we looked at what had been proposed and agreed upon, leading to several meetings with the contractors and in-house staff. We looked at several hundred trees and several thousand shrubs, and this led to the replacement of hundreds of trees and more shrubs than I can imagine during that process.”

“The result,” he said, “is what you see today. We have a beautiful US 321 coming into Blowing Rock, and it’s a wonderful asset to the town as some 8000 cars per day pass through on 321.” Fox concluded saying, “From the Town of Blowing Rock, we’re very appreciative of David and what he’s done for the town.”

Chairman George Wilcox said that the award was recently established to recognize outstanding work by a citizen to enhance the life in the community of Blowing Rock, N.C., and will be a feature of the Annual Membership Meeting of the Blowing Rock Civic Association.

Wilcox said the award is named for “One of the greatest supporters of Blowing Rock and the High Country, Paul H. Broyhill.” He said, “Paul Broyhill is recognized as a legendary furniture industry executive and national business leader, named to the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame in 2004. The Broyhill family has a long history supporting the northwest corner of North Carolina, their generosity to Blowing Rock exemplified in many ways, including the beautiful Broyhill Park in downtown Blowing Rock. “

Wilcox recounted that “The Broyhill family’s exceptional philanthropy has extended to the Blowing Rock Park, the Blowing Rock Charity Horseshow—property the family sold for community use for $1.” Other gifts include the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, Appalachian State University, the Blowing Rock First Baptist Church, and gifts to many other organizations and individuals in the High Country.

Wilcox concluded, “This selfless dedication to the benefit of our great community and its fine people is a priceless quality that is recognized in presentation of the Paul H. Broyhill Community Service Award.”

You can watch the award ceremony for David Goodson at Town Hall with George Wilcox and Town Manager, Shane Fox. See YouTube link below.

NC Enters Phase 2.5

Good afternoon Blowing Rock Homeowners,

Today, Governor Cooper announced that the state will move into Phase 2.5 starting this Friday, September 4th, 2020 at 5:00pm. Please see below press clipping for more in depth information, however, I have listed some of the key points:

1. Mass gathering limits will increase to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors from the current limit of 10 indoors and 25 outdoors.
2. may open. The new Memorial Park playground will be “unwrapped” for the kids.
3. and aquariums may open at 50% capacity including BRAHM.
4. Gyms and indoor exercise facilities, such as yoga studios, martial arts, and rock climbing, as well as skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor basketball, volleyball etc., may open at 30% capacity.
5. Bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, indoor entertainment facilities, amusement parks, dance halls will remain closed.
6. Large venues remain subject to the mass gathering limits.

Here are links for Executive Order 163 and the FAQs for EO 163

Read the Executive Order. Copy link to search engine.
https://files.nc.gov/governor/documents/files/EO163-New-Phase-2.5.pdf

Read the Frequently Asked Questions. Copy link to search engine.
https://files.nc.gov/governor/documents/files/Phase-2.5-FAQ.pdf

New Board Nominees

Dear Civic Association Members,

Barry Buxton, Chairman of the Nomination & Governance Committee and our board of directors are pleased to announce that the board of directors has nominated four outstanding individuals to join the board of directors – Joe Bogdahn, Hunt Broyhill, Charles Davant and John Orgain.

The members will be asked to approve these new directors at our annual meeting on September 10, 2020.

We are pleased that these community leaders have agreed to join our board as additional voices for homeowners.

Bios for Joe Bogdahn, Hunt Broyhill, Charles Davant and John Orgain are provided below. Please join me in welcoming our new board members.

Tim Gupton,
President

Joseph Bogdahn
Joe is a Director and Partner of Six/Ten LLC, a small private equity firm based in Winter Haven Florida, where he oversees design and construction. Joe retired in 2014 as the Chairman of The Bogdahn Group/AndCo Consulting, an independent Registered Investment Advisory firm he founded. At that time, the firm advised over $55B assets, providing fiduciary governance and investment consulting services for institutional investors throughout the United States. After retirement he was appointed by Gov. Snyder of Michigan to serve as a Trustee of the Investment Committee of the City of Detroit’s Police and Fire Pension Fund, where he continues to serve as Chairman.

Joe received his BBA in Business/Economics from the University of Mississippi, where he served as President of the Student Body and Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity. He also received his Certified Investment Management Analyst designation from the IMCA program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. He is a member of the National Town Builders Association and the Congress for New Urbanism. He and his wife Heather divide time between Winter Haven, Florida and Blowing Rock.

Hunt Broyhill
Hunt Broyhill, a graduate of Wake Forest University, is a successful business and investment executive. Hunt is an outstanding member of the Broyhill family that has had homes, business interests and philanthropic interests in Blowing Rock and the High Country for several generations. Hunt’s business interests include: Chairman and CEO of BMC Fund, Inc.; President of Broyhill Investments; Member of the Board of Directors of Capitala Finance; Member of the Board of Directors of Flagship Healthcare REIT; Member of the Board of Directors of Heritage Fabrics, LLC. Hunt has an extensive involvement in charitable and civic activities including serving as President of the Broyhill Family Foundation; a Member of the Board of Directors of the Caldwell Community College Foundation; an Advocate for the Navy Seal Foundation.

Charles Davant, MD
Charles Davant moved to Blowing Rock in 1948, already blessed with the nickname “Bunky.” He attended Blowing Rock Elementary, Woodberry Forest School, Duke University, and received his medical degree from UNC in 1972. He bleeds dark blue. After a Medical College of Virginia residency program in family medicine he returned to practice medicine in Blowing Rock in 1975. He has lived here with his wife, Teena, since then. He has served on boards of local and state and national medical organizations and continues to practice, now at Blowing Rock Medical Park. He chaired Blowing Rock Planning and Zoning board, serving there for almost 20 years and just completed his last term as chairman of the Blowing Rock Board of adjustment.

JOHN B. ORGAIN
John serves on the Executive Committee of Alex Lee, Inc. Alex Lee’s primary businesses include food and nonfood distribution, food retail and real estate. John graduated from Harvard Law School and received his undergraduate degree from Duke University in economics and public policy. He also serves in leadership positions in several bar and other regional and national associations as well as serving as a director on various company and foundation boards. John and his wife have been homeowners in Blowing Rock since 2009, and he is an active member of various Blowing Rock organizations. John is married to the former Elizabeth “Neal” McArthur. They have one daughter, Anne.

County Ambulance Service – Your Health at Risk

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

I am writing to follow-up on an article posted in the Watauga Democrat “Blowing Rock group advocates for ambulance station” published on August 20, 2020.

The community of Blowing Rock and the Town Council has been advocating to improve ambulance transport response times for many years and requested the new 24/7 crew be located in the facility provided by the Blowing Rock Fire District. The County’s response has been to add a 9/5 crew during the weekdays.

Representatives of the community and I met with Chairman John Welch on August 21, 2020 to request that the County hold a public hearing to re-evaluate the County Commission’s EMS policies that drive outcomes and safety and seek input from taxpayers throughout the entire County.

All communities outside of Boone are short-changed due to the public health policy currently in place that governs the contracted EMS services for the County. The single performance benchmark is a 10 average response time throughout the county. This benchmark drives behavior of the contractor such that Boone is 6 minutes and everyone outside of Boone is 10 to 25 minutes. Anecdotal experience in Blowing Rock tells us that transport arrival time is 20 to 25 minutes.

We recommended that the County adopt a national standard of 90/9 that sets dual performance benchmarks to achieve 90% coverage in 9 minutes. Adopting dual benchmarks that includes a geographic factor is game changer that results in a fairer and safer outcome for all taxpayers throughout the County.

The taxpayers outside of Boone, need to realize that our service is second rate and must be improved to lower our risk due to late arrival times for “life threatening” emergency calls.

The decision by the County Commission is priority decision to protect the health and safety of our taxpayers that should not limited by budget excuses.

Please contact the County Commissioners, Mayor Sellers and out Town Council to express your views.

Tim Gupton
President
Blowing Rock Civic Association

Free Wifi for Students in Blowing Rock

Blowing Rock Parks & Recreation will be offering 5 Work Stations for students Grade K-12. The Work Stations will be open Monday through Friday from 7:45AM-3:45PM starting August 24th, 2020 in the Rec Center.

Students under 12 years old will need to be accompanied by a guardian at all times during their session. Upon entry, masks will be required at all times, the temperature of each individual will be taken, and health related questions will be asked.

Parks & Recreation staff will sanitize each Work Station at the end of each day. You may also access Town Park WiFi anywhere inside Memorial Park for free.

Please note that this is not a tutoring or child care service. Please call Parks & Rec office at 828-295-5222 for any other questions.

Voting Alternatives during the Pandemic

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

If you are like me, I was worried about voting during the pandemic, mainly because of possible long lines or post office delays.

I believe I can manage risks with social distancing and a mask, so I plan to take advantage of our early voting alternative in Blowing Rock.
.
In addition to voting on November 3rd or early voting , you can request a mail-in ballot or participate in early voting days.

Mail-in = Absentee Ballot

You can request an Absentee Ballot available for download at
www. NCSBE.gov or http://www.wataugacounty.org/App_Pages/Dept/BOE/notices.aspx.

Also you can pick up an absentee ballot at the Watauga County Board of Elections at Board of Elections, 842 W King St # 6, Boone, NC 28607.

Absentee ballots are available until 5 PM on October 27th. But better to not delay. Once your request is submitted, your Absentee Ballot should be mailed to you starting September 4th.

You can return you ballot by mail, courier service like UPS, or deliver to the County Board of Elections or at your early voting site. I think that I will hand deliver my ballot to the Board of Election in Boone to be sure or early voting site as a back-up plan.

Early Voting – Don’t Wait

One stop early voting starts October 15th and ends October 31st at Blowing Rock Town Hall.

The hours will be 8:00 AM to 7:30 PM on weekdays and Saturdays – First two Saturdays from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM and last Saturday from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

Questions – FAQs

The North Carolina State Board of Elections has issued FAQs: Voting by Mail in North Carolina.

You can access at the following link –
https://s3.amazonaws.com/dl.ncsbe.gov/Outreach/Absentee/FAQs_Absentee_Voting_2020_FINAL.pdf

Thank you to our Board of Elections and our poll workers who have and will be working very hard to allow ample time for all of us to vote for the November 3rd election.

Tim Gupton
President