West Jefferson gets early Christmas present

Linda BurchetteAssistant

September 13, 2012

The Town of West Jefferson may soon be receiving $100,000 through a $54.5 million Wachovia Muni Bond Derivative Settlement involving multiple states including North Carolina.

Mayor Dale Baldwin said the announcement was made following a closed session to discuss the legal matter at Monday’s board of aldermen meeting.

A release provided by Town Clerk Wesley Barker reads that a $54.5 million settlement fund was established through an out-of-court settlement between Wachovia Bank, N.A., and 26 state attorneys general to resolve matters explained in an agreement among the attorneys general and 25 states plus the District of Columbia and Wachovia dated last December.

“This Settlement was reached following an investigation conducted by certain Attorneys General concerning alleged violations of state and federal antitrust and other laws by Wachovia and other providers, brokers and advisors, involving the marketing, sale and placement of Municipal Bond Derivatives,” the statement reads. “This Settlement is different from a class action settlement. First, the Settlement is pursuant to the sovereign authority of the 26 State Attorneys General who entered into the Settlement Agreement. Second, the Settlement is not subject to court approval.”

The Town has 60 days to submit forms to participate and execute the release in order to receive a share of the $54.5 million fund.

Barker said the Town is expecting approximately $100,000, and a meeting with the town’s auditor would help determine how best to use the money.

In other business at Monday’s meeting, the board agreed after lengthy discussion to approve road closings for several upcoming events.

The first is a Saturday night “cruise in” by the Heritage Iron Club planned 4-7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15. The aldermen agreed to block the Backstreet from the farmers market to Ashe Street during those three hours for an exhibit of antique vehicles. It will take place again on Saturday, Oct. 20.

The next event is West Jefferson’s Olde Time Antiques Fair planned 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22. For this event, part of the Backstreet, from West Main to Ashe Street, and West Main Street from College Avenue to the Backstreet are set to be blocked off starting around 5 a.m. that Saturday morning for vendors to set up.

The third request is for West Main Street , from the Backstreet to College Avenue, around the old depot station, to be closed to traffic from 6-10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1 for the Lions Club Christmas Tree 5K Run.

Alderman Calvin Green said he has received several calls from merchants complaining about streets being closed on Saturdays when they do business. He suggested the town look at rotating locations for some of these events so the same roads aren’t closed each time. Parsons Farm Supply is one business that suffers if the Backstreet is closed early on Saturdays, he said, and closures also affect Smithey’s Restaurant, Railroad Pawn, West Jefferson Coffee House and other businesses along the Backstreet.

Several of the aldermen and the mayor commented that the inconvenience of temporary road closures can be dealt with if the events bring people – and potential customers – to town.

“We need everything like that we can get,” said Mayor Baldwin.

Part of the issue is people taking up the parking spaces downtown who are not shopping in downtown businesses.

Alderman Tom Hartman said, “We need to welcome events but protect the merchants, too. Maybe park people out of town and shuttle them in.”