JEFFERSON-Tempers flared at times at Monday night’s Ashe County Board of Commissioners’ open meeting but cooler heads prevailed as citizens voiced their views on everything from Sheriff Terry Buchanan to Glendale Spring’s proposed asphalt plant.
The 6:30 p.m. meeting, first scheduled by the five member Board of Commissioners more than a month ago, was designed to be an after hours opportunity for citizens to address county leadership directly on any issue impacting Ashe County.
And voice their views they did.
Bill Brown complained about both current Ashe County Sheriff Terry Buchanan and members of the board of commissioners.
“That sheriff right over there, he has no business being here, his deputies are greenhorns, and the only things they know are the 10-codes,” Brown said. “They don’t speak to you. I stuck my hand out to one fellow to shake his hand and you know what he done? He turned around and walked off,” indicating either Sheriff Buchanan or Chief Deputy Rick Clayton, who were sitting in the audience.
“So we need to get people in this county that lives and works in this county,” Brown said. “We don’t need to fire our good people here in this county to hire outsiders.”
Brown also said Buchanan, whose actions are currently being examined by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, should not be serving as Sheriff.
“He doesn’t need to be in there,” Brown said. “He’s under heavy investigation now.”
Brown then spoke to Ashe County Commissioner Gary Roark about collecting an alleged bounty on Brown.
“Bounty, what,” Roark asked.
“That you’d give somebody a Camaro if they got rid of me,” Brown said. “I’m still here.”
“If you’ve got a beef with me, I’d be glad to meet you outside,” Roark said.
“Let’s go,” Brown said.
“You’re out of order,” Roark said. “And disrespectful, too.”
Brown and Roark ultimately did meet after the meeting for roughly ten minutes in a side room just off the commissioner’s meeting area. Roark and Brown ultimately went their separate ways without incident.
Other speakers, like Donald Nelson, applauded Buchanan’s efforts and singled out WBTV Reporter Nick Ochsner, who launched a open records investigation into Buchanan and commissioners, for criticism.
“I don’t know Terry that well. I’ve met him several times,” Nelson said. “I like the man. I think he’s done a good job. I think the whole county ought to support him. That’s the most important job in the county. He’s charged with upholding law and order and protecting all citizens from the obvious criminal elements floating around. Congratulations sheriff and the commissioners on appointing him back in January.”
Korea veteran Tom Pope made an appeal for unity.
“I came down tonight….to tell you the county is doing a great job,” Pope said. “I think our sheriff is doing a great job. I know people resist change.”
Pope said growth will come with the ongoing expansion of US-221 and said that Ashe County must remain united.
“We think it’s the greatest treasure and it won’t always be this haven for us if we tear it apart,” Pope said. “We have much to be thankful for…We want to see what we fought for upheld. All this backbiting and chewing each other apart isn’t good.”
Pope also said Buchanan had nothing to do with his split-decision appointment by commissioners in January.
“He had nothing to do with him wanting a job,” Pope said. “He applied for a job. He was accepted and if you’ve got meanness to take out, take it out on somebody else but not him. He just wanted a job.”
Another common thread among speakers were multiple voices thanking the commissioners for their efforts in opposing a proposed asphalt plant in Glendale Springs.
“Thank you for your leadership on this long and expensive road,” Pat Considine, of the Protect our Fresh Air Committee told commissioners.
Previous Jefferson Post reporting has found the county has spent roughly $100,000 in legal fees to fight a possible appeal concerning the issuance of a polluting industries permit to Appalachian Materials, a company that has for several years attempted to build an asphalt plant in Glendale Spring.
Considine said the proposed plant would damage Ashe County’s environment, harm its appeal to tourists, damage the world famous frescoes in Glendale Springs and could prove harmful to the children and families at nearby Camp New Hope.
“Ashe County could lose its status as ‘The Coolest Corner,” Considine said.
Randy Brown, director of Camp New Hope, also thanked commissioners for their fight against the asphalt plant, but also spoke in support of Buchanan, who she said has made special effort to help Camp New Hope.
“I was shocked when I was hearing some negatives about him,” Brown said. “He’s come out to the camp and met the kids. He calls the camp to make sure things are OK or he’ll ride by there to make sure everything is OK.”
She said she believes Buchanan treats the office he holds as though it’s a great honor.
“He got down on his hands and knees and prayed (with a child),” Brown said. “I think instead of throwing stones we should pray with one another…instead of saying hurtful things we can never take back.”
Other speakers, like Rodney Combs, appealed to the board to help with under-the-radar issues like petitioning the state to put a crosswalk near Ashe County High School which would allow students to cross the street safely.
“I’ve seen them darting back and forth,” Combs said. “It’s a simple fix and I’m sure it costs money but…the kids get to playing and don’t pay attention to what we’re doing.”
Following the meeting Buchanan and Clayton spoke with members of the public critical of their administration. At one point, ACSO Deputy Colin Maultsby covered and shoved the camera of Jefferson Post Editor Adam Orr as Orr attempted to film an interaction between Creston’s Rose Price and Sheriff Terry Buchanan.
“Dude that’s crazy man,” Maultsby said after swiping the camera.
“Hey, hey,” Orr said. “Please don’t do that.”
“That’s wrong,” Maultsby said. “That’s wrong.”
A woman in the video then uses a vulgar term in reference to Buchanan.
“Take that now,” Maultsby said. “You heard what she said.”
At presstime Tuesday Buchanan and commissioners had yet to respond when asked what disciplinary measures, if any, would be assessed against Maultsby or what specific training ACSO personnel receive to prepare them to deal with citizens who film police interactions in public spaces.
Reach Adam Orr at 336-489-3058.