Buncombe Commissioners: Taking care of business

  • Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Aug. 3 meeting
  • State grant funds Woodfin sidewalk
  • YMI gears up for Goombay!
  • Veterans committee presents photo collage
  • County seeks transportation grant

In their first meeting in more than a month, the Buncombe County commissioners plowed through a laundry list of agenda items that generated little controversy or even discussion. Among other things, they took action Aug. 3 to build a sidewalk in Woodfin, honor both the YMI Cultural Center and local veterans, secure transportation funding and rezone land in Fairview.

A good fit

First up was a resolution accepting a Fit Community NC grant to help pay for installing a segment of sidewalk along Elk Mountain Road between Woodfin Elementary School and Riverside Drive.

Thank you: Commissioner Carol Peterson presented YMI Cultural Center Executive Director Harry Harrison with blanket emblazoned with the county seal to honor the organization’s work in the community. Photo by Halima Flynt

A $60,000 grant from the state’s Health and Wellness Trust Fund will be administered by the Buncombe County Parks, Greenways and Recreation Services Department. Before the commissioners unanimously approved the resolution, board Chair David Gantt declared the project "wonderful."

Goombay! on the way

YMI Cultural Center Executive Director Harry Harrison updated the board on this year’s Goombay!. The Afro-Caribbean festival will run Friday, Aug. 27 through Sunday, Aug. 29 and will include "great entertainment, games for children, AmeriCorps workers doing arts and crafts, and volunteers from throughout the county," he reported. The festival is held on The Block, the historically black business district encompassing Eagle and South Market streets.

"It's Caribbean in origin, but it's Asheville in nature," Harrison explained. "We feel it's important that we celebrate and enjoy our cultures and diversity that we have in this community."

In response, Gantt said: "I'll be there. … It's a lot of fun; fun is the operative word on Goombay!."

Commissioner Carol Peterson then presented Harrison with an honorary blanket displaying the county seal.

"You definitely don't need this blanket for Goombay! because if there's a hotter, more 'with it' festival, I don't know what it is," she proclaimed as the two posed for photographs. "We're extremely pleased to present this blanket to your center. We appreciate the work you do at the YMI every day."

Besides staging Goombay!, the nonprofit coordinates art shows, workshops and school-outreach programs designed to highlight cultural diversity and African-American heritage.

The blanket, noted Gantt, was made by Cross Canvas Co. of Asheville.

Collage honors veterans

Walter Plaue, vice chair of the Veterans Memorial Committee presented the commissioners with a photo collage of Buncombe County World War II veterans.

"It's a way of honoring people who set aside their lives and went to war when their country called," said Plaue. "We wanted to give it to the county because it's representative of the county people."

Vice Chair Bill Stanley accepted the memorial, saying the board hopes to display it at Pack Memorial Library after renovations are completed this fall.

ROAPing in transportation dollars

Next on the agenda was a public hearing on the county's request for $392,639 in state Rural Operating Assistance Program moneys. The grant would fund programs that provide transportation for rural, elderly and disabled residents.

Candler resident Jerry Rice, the only member of the public to speak during the hearing, asked if the private sector could provide some of those services at lower cost and whether it was possible to offer transportation on Sundays.

The commissioners deferred to Lori Hembree, the director of Mountain Mobility, who didn't address the question of privatization but acknowledged the need to expand services.

"We do hear that pretty commonly in our public-outreach forums, that Sunday service is something the community would like to have," she conceded. "But we don't currently have any funds to operate on that additional day."

The commissioners unanimously approved the grant application.

Fairview property rezoned

The board also unanimously agreed to rezone an 8.9-acre parcel in Fairview to allow for commercial development. After hearing from owner Jeffrey Martin and his representatives, the commissioners moved to redesignate the property at 104 Charlotte Highway from neighborhood service to commercial service.

Some residents had previously voiced concern about possible erosion issues, but no one spoke up during the hearing. After the vote, both Gantt and Commissioner Holly Jones praised the change.

"I think it's vital, as we want to preserve our slopes and our residential areas, that we direct the more intense development along our corridors,” noted Jones. "I think that's going to be how we have our cake and eat it too, so to speak, in terms of having business and vitality in our community but also the beauty of nature."

Jake Frankel can be reached at 251-1333, ext. 115, or at jfrankel@mountainx.com.

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About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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One thought on “Buncombe Commissioners: Taking care of business

  1. Buster Brown

    We’d be much better off as a county if these “commissars” would not only take the summer off, but the fall and winter as well. 1 month in May for meetings,,,only. This way they hopefully will do less damage to Buncombe County citizens and tax payers.

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