March 23, 2006 issue

Watauga County To Receive $400,000 for Housing Rehabilitation

Story by Kathleen McFadden

Every three years, Watauga County qualifies for Community Development Block Grant funds for the replacement or rehabilitation of substandard housing in the county, and 2006 is the allocation year. At their meeting Tuesday night, the Watauga County Board of Commissioners approved the submission of the CDBG grant that will bring $400,000 into the county to improve the living conditions of some low-income residents.

Michelle Ball of High Country Council of Governments will administer the grant, and she provided an update to the commissioners on Tuesday night.

Applications for the program were accepted from December 1, 2005, through January 6, 2006, Ball said, and 19 property owners applied for assistance. Of those, 17 met the program’s income eligibility requirements. On March 15, the scattered site housing committee met and selected the 7 applicants out of the 17 who will receive assistance.

Three applicants will receive a replacement home, typically a double-wide or a modular, Ball explained, and four applicants will receive rehabilitation assistance.

Ball said that the state has not yet released the CDBG funds, but she expects the money to be available by June. Construction and rehabilitation will likely begin in the fall.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the commissioners approved the High Country Soccer Association’s request for naming rights for components of the soccer facility the group plans to build at Brookshire Park. According to the members of the association, the ability to name fields, buildings and bleachers after donors enhances fundraising possibilities.

In other business, the commissioners set dates for a joint meeting with the Watauga County Board of Education—Tuesday, April 4, at 4:00 p.m.—and for a public open house at the new administrative complex—Monday, April 10, from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m.

Tuesday night’s public comment period was a lengthy one, with many area residents commenting on a number of issues. Several expressed their opposition to the Ginn Company resort planned for the 5,600-acre area in the eastern part of the county; some asked for a more transparent process with regard to the high school situation; and one resident, who said he was representing several neighbors as well as himself, raised health and quality-of-life concerns about a composing operation on Hardin Road. Mary Cavanaugh spoke on behalf of Citizens for Children, a group that supports the construction of a new high school, and Matt Cooper asked the commissioners to consider building a new high school with sustainable energy practices, including a waste fuel heating system and solar generators. “Renewable energy is the bridge between the debates we’re having about the high school,” Cooper said.