W.J. Aldermen authorize request for grant

Cliff Clark

March 6, 2014

The West Jefferson Board of Aldermen authorized the town’s administration to apply for a federal infrastructure grant to improve the water service in the Burkett Avenue neighborhood Monday night at their regular monthly meeting.

“If someone turns on the water in one house (on Burkett Avenue), it affects everyone else’s water pressure,” said West Jefferson Town Manager Brantley Price when discussing the need for the infrastructure improvement grant.

Town engineer Mike Acquesta said the town, with the aldermen’s approval, would apply for a $300,000 grant to upgrade the water lines in the neighborhood. The grant request, Acquesta said, would cover 100 percent of the cost of the project, adding that it was “very unusual” that a match was not required to qualify for federal funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

One requirement of the grant was that the improvements be in an area that serves low to moderate income families, Acquesta said.

Alderman Calvin Green suggested the possibility of including the water service improvement project grant request for the Graybeal Street area of town.

Price and Acquesta said improvements in that area were also being investigated as a possibility.

West Jefferson Mayor Dale Baldwin opened a public hearing on the grant request and asked for comments. There were none. The aldermen then approved the measure to apply for the grant.

The aldermen were also presented the quarterly report from the chairman of the ABC board.

Haskell McQuire reported sales in the last quarter for the store were $423,993, which was a 4.5 percent increase over the same quarter last year. The ABC board also issued its quarterly $10,000 payment to the town per its operating requirements.

The aldermen also reappointed Russell Killen to the ABC board.

Ashe County Farmers Market President Carol Coulter and Market Manager John Smyre appeared before the aldermen to request renewing the yearly $1 lease and for a modification of one of the structures used by the market on the Backstreet.

Coulter thanked the aldermen, and the town, for all they have done over the years to help with the success of the market.

Smyre detailed the 2013 numbers for the aldermen. He said over 24,000 people shopped at the market last year and it averaged 35 vendors each Saturday.

After the details on shoppers and vendors, Smyre and Coulter asked if the aldermen might consider increasing the width of one of the structures used by the market. An area in one of the covered structures is exceedingly narrow, especially when crowded.

They requested extending the concrete pad on the structure to ease customer congestion. They had an estimate of approximately $6,000 for the renovation.

Price said widening the structure was possible, if approved by the aldermen, at the beginning of the new fiscal year in July.

However, Alderman John Reeves asked Price if it was possible if the renovations could be completed before the height of the market season, which begins in late June.

Price said that was possible and then looked towards town maintanence supervisor Eric Miller and asked him how long he could do without a new lawnmower, which drew laughter from the aldermen and audience.

Price then said the aldermen could move the project forward if they wanted.

In other business:

• Agreed to close a portion of downtown for a Model T Country Tour in July 2014.

• Agreed to revisit the town’s policy regarding the cemetery at its next meeting.

• Reappointed Josh Williams to the West Jefferson Tourism Development Authority.

The aldermen present at the meeting were Green, Reeves, Stephen Shoemaker, Tom Hartman, and Dr. Brett Summey.