In an out-of-the-ordinary Nov. 5 Buncombe County Board of Commissioners meeting, the sound of five voices performing a cappella gospel echoed through the meeting room.
As tribute to the Candler-based group’s 40th anniversary, the board proclaimed Oct. 12 as "Primitive Quartet Day" in Buncombe County. The quartet then stood in front of the chamber and sang in harmony, followed by a thunderous round of applause.
The rest of the meeting was far less musical, though mostly harmonious, as members of the board voted and came to unanimous decisions on matters of transportation, rezoning and a resolution for a governing board for local mental health services:
• The board had split opinions on Robert Deutsch. Commissioners voted 4-3 to make him their new county attorney, with Commissioners Joe Belcher, David King and Mike Fryar dissenting. "There were a number of excellent candidates, and it was not an easy process," said Vice Chair Holly Jones, citing Deutsch's "requisite knowledge and wealth of experience."
• The board voted unanimously to change to a county law that currently prohibits Smoky Mountain Center for Mental Health's board from having fewer than 11 or more than 21 voting members. The organization’s board currently consists of 21 members, but — after a reorganization — now reaches 23 counties in Western North Carolina.
• Another unanimous vote was cast to support a program grant put forth by local transportation service Mountain Mobility, which needs $782,353 to fund the continued use of its alternative fuel vehicles. Currently, 50 percent of the organization’s fleet use compressed natural gas or liquid propane. Mountain Mobility representatives say the CNG vehicles save the organization 32 cents per mile, and the liquid propane ones save 22 cents per mile, as well as reducing maintenance costs each year.
• The board also voted unanimously in favor of local resident Anthony Case’s request to rezone his Emma property from residential to commercial. Case said he needs extra space to park vehicles for his company, Out 'n' About, which provides transportation for area's elderly or disabled residents. His 1.96-acre single-family property sits adjacent to a commercial property.