During their 2 p.m. work session last Monday, Ashe County Commissioners discussed new gun laws, communication between themselves and Jefferson Aldermen about the old jail site, and issues pertaining to homeless individuals in the county.
New Gun Law
Ashe County Attorney John Kilby updated commissioners and Interim County Manager Pat Mitchell last Monday on the effect the passage of new statewide gun laws have on the county.
NC House Bill 650 made revisions to the “Castle Doctrine,” and also relaxed portions of the state’s concealed carry laws. The new measures went into effect Dec. 1.
One portion of the new bill reads, “A local government may adopt an ordinance to prohibit, by posting, the carrying of a concealed handgun on municipal and county recreational facilities that are specifically identified by the local government. If a local government adopts such an ordinance with regard to recreational facilities, then the concealed handgun permittee may, nevertheless, secure the handgun in a locked vehicle within the trunk, glove box, or other enclosed compartment or area within or on the motor vehicle. For purposes of this section, the term ‘recreational facilities’ includes only the following: a playground, an athletic field, a swimming pool, and an athletic facility.”
Mitchell told commissioners that she met with Jefferson town officials Dec. 15 about the old Ashe County jail lot. Mitchell said Jefferson was not interested in a land exchange of any kind.
“Their position was, as long as it’s our property, we should put a price on it and bring it back to them, whether that is zero dollars or $32,600 or somewhere in between,” said Mitchell.
The Ashe County Board of Commissioners approved a bid by DH Griffin Companies, a Greensboro headquartered construction firm, to tear-down the old Ashe County jail in Jefferson. The $32,600 bid covered demolition and removal of all materials, including the asbestos used in the jail’s 1974 construction. Griffin completed the demolition project in late November.
Mitchell said she received a call from Generations Daycare at Ashe Services for Aging about a situation concerning a homeless individual.
“Somebody had worked with this individual to get a job, and he was apparently living in his car,” said Mitchell. “They (Generations) were allowing him to come into the daycare in the mornings so he could shower before he went to work.”
Mitchell said the man wanted to sleep in his car in Ashe County Park, which Mitchell said was not an option. Mitchell said Ashe Services for Aging had also kept him from sleeping in their parking lot, and that the man had also been told to leave the Walmart parking lot by West Jefferson Police.
Mitchell said these matters could remain an administrative decision, or they could create a policy to cover homeless situations.
Poe said she would like to see a policy to cover the situation, “Right now, anybody can come out here on the front steps and camp and there’s nothing the county can do.”
Commissioner William Sands asked if area churches would allow homeless to sleep in their parking lots, but Commissioner Gary Roark said that was unlikely due to liability concerns.