1. Commissioner Vince Gable referred vaguely on Friday at the “pre-budget retreat” to telephone calls he had received that contained threatening language directed at “another commissioner.”
2. The county’s swimming pool: a limping liability. It has been patched and patched and patched over the years for a total accumulation of over $650,000 expended, money scarfed during the last Republican majority from a capital reserve that had been building to replace the entire structure. Commissioner Jim Deal said he was not for spending any more money on bandaids and that a long-term solution had to be found. It currently costs some $300,000 per annum to operate the facility, and it would cost over $1 mill to replace it. (Best guess: If we were the county manager, closing the pool might appear to be our only viable option under current circumstances.)
3. The Watauga County Department of Health had two fairly startling factoids to report: suicide has become a big public health issue, and Watauga County is infested with bed bugs. (Those two things are not necessarily related.)
4. Worthy initiatives like a new classroom building at Caldwell Technical Institute, the Watauga County Housing Trust and economic development ideas seem destined to wither in the next budget year.
5. Courthouse lockdown: Senior Superior Court Judge Phil Ginn has ordered all the counties of the 24th Judicial Dist. to essentially limit and control all admittance to the county courthouse, which is going to cost the county some money. In short, Judge Ginn wants...
A. Public access limited to one entrance only, which means the King Street entrance, with the side entrances both closed permanently and the back entrance either key-coded for employees only or equipped and staffed like the King Street entrance.
B. The judge wants any public entrances staffed during all hours by uniformed officers and equipped with certified metal detectors.
C. The judge also wrote, “Please also be advised that I may very well be issuing an Order in the not too distant future limiting the possession of electronic devices in the courthouse including cell phones and computers by unauthorized individuals.”
D. Judge Ginn added, “I fully understand that there will be costs involved that may be difficult for your respective counties to fund. Nevertheless, ...” just do it!
E. The judge is fully authorized by NC statute to impose these costs on the county.