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August 02, 2014

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Kip Turner of Maymead Construction gives the town council an update on the company’s progress in the U.S. 321 widening project. The portion of the project within Blowing Rock town limits is scheduled to be completed at the end of April 2015. Photo by Jeff Eason

Originally published: 2014-02-14 08:59:02
Last modified: 2014-02-14 08:59:02

Funding for health care facility

Blowing Rock took a major step toward establishing itself as a center for health and medicine this week when the Blowing Rock Board of Commissioners voted to approve funding for a new post acute care facility.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System had requested $250,340 from the town to be used for its water and sewer lines that would be connected to the town’s system.

The town council voted 3-1 to approve $150,000 toward water and sewer for the new facility.

Commissioner Dan Phillips voted against it and Commissioner Doug Matheson recused himself from the issue because his wife works at Blowing Rock Hospital, part of the ARHS network.

The motion was approved with the stipulation that ARHS would have to repay the town if the project was halted or moved to another region.

“I firmly believe that the best way to protect your future is to create it,” said Keith Tester, a former Blowing Rock commissioner, during the public hearing prior to the vote.

“We have an obligation to fix the problems of past and today, while making plans for the future. This facility could provide a tremendous income stream for the town in the future,” he said.

ARHS purchased two adjoining tracts of land two years ago located off of U.S. 321 near the Bluer Ridge Parkway. Current plans for the facility include putting in an access road on U.S. 321 across the street from Edmisten Road.

The town annexed the property last year, primarily to provide water and sewer service to the new health care facility, tentatively named Chestnut Ridge at Appalachian Place.

The new facility will replace Blowing Rock Hospital, which is located in downtown Blowing Rock on Chestnut Drive.

ARHS hopes to break ground on the 112-bed facility this spring. The facility will specialize in long-term rehabilitative care, Alzheimer’s disease and palliative care.

In other town council news, the board voted unanimously to:

• Approve tax adjustments due to an appeal from the Meade family, resulting in a property tax refund totaling $1,833.
• Approve a personnel travel policy for the town’s ABC store, in accordance with N.C. General Statute 18B-700 (g2).

• Approve a new three-year contract for Combs, Tennant & Carpenter, a company that prepares a final audit on the town’s budget. For the past five years, the town has paid $22,000 annually for the service.

• Approve new board appointments for volunteers on various boards. Most board appointees serve for three years.

• Approve the town as the finish line for the Hunter’s Heroes’  10-mile run, set to take place on June 7, 2014. The race will begin at the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office in Boone.

• Approve a new ordinance limiting the use of exhaust compression brakes, sometimes referred to as “jake brakes,” on vehicles within town limits. New signage will go up regarding the new ordinance in the future.

• Approve a bid from Waters Brothers Construction Company of Boone to repair portions of Quail Hollow Road damaged as a result of heavy rains in July 2013. The area was declared a natural disaster and qualified for Federal Emergency Management and North Carolina Department of Public Safety funding. The town council has already appropriated these funding sources for the repairs totaling $69,500 ($52,000 or 75 percent FEMA funding, plus $17,500 NCDPS funding).

• Approve a request from Ensemble Stage to evaluate the feasibility of using the former Blowing Rock Fire Station behind Town Hall as its future home. Ensemble Stage will be responsible for raising the money for capital improvements to the building and operating costs of the theater.

The next regularly scheduled public meeting of the Blowing Rock Town Council will take place at Town Hall at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 11.

For more information and stories, see The Blowing Rocket.

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