Commissioners narrow down goals

Apr. 04, 2014 @ 07:01 AM

After nearly two hours of discussion, Rutherford County Commissioners have narrowed down their goals for the immediate future.

Commissioners voted on 26 different proposed goals and whittled that list down to about five different items for county staff to start working on for the coming year.

A large part of the discussion centered around creating a county/school/college facility plan to update buildings around the county. Part of that included added at VOCAT (Vocational and Technical) school facility which has been in conversation between county officials, Rutherford County Schools and Isothermal Community College.

It all circled around the top priority which was bringing jobs to the county.

“I see jobs as a big part of everything we look at,” said Carl Classen, Rutherford County manager.

Commissioners did not vote a facilities plan as a high priority but did devote a lot of attention to completing a VOCAT school. Classen said it was almost essential for the county to look at a facilities plan spurred from the news that Isothermal Community College Trustees received a report indicating the need for nearly $10 million of repairs needed to bring buildings at the college up to current standard.

“If that’s not looked at, the county will be asked to look at putting in a significant amount of money,” Classen said.

The goal which received the highest support was focusing on economic development product for the county. That included exploring site-ready property for potential industries, marketing the county’s property along Daniel Road and creating a public/private Economic Development Commission (EDC) organization.

Another goal for the future is the creation of an EMS station at the southern end of the county. Commissioners also voiced support for learning of cost estimates to build a new library in the area. Classen said the county can have cost estimates for an EMS station, library and combined facility prepared.

“I think if we are building one facility (EMS), we should be looking to build the other at the same time,” said Commissioner Julius Owens.

Commissioners also placed a high value on transportation advocacy. Within that included a focus on U.S. 221A straightening, advocating the completion of U.S. 221 near Chesnee (S.C), looking at the Charlotte Road off-ramp in Rutherfordton and the U.S. 221/Laurel Hill bi-section. Commissioners also voiced support to continue advocating for an Interstate 74 corridor in Rutherford County.

The last goal was working on water and sewer infrastructure across the county, including developing a sewer system study.

Commissioners did discuss the need to create a soccer/softball/baseball complex somewhere in the county. But, not all commissioners agreed that should be a priority.

“We have other priorities that we need to look at,” said Commissioner Bo Richard.

Classen said the county can work with the Tourism Development Association and Rutherford County Schools to study the possibility of a joint facility study. He said there is no county land available to build such a complex.

“We looked at a lot of different options but we couldn’t find any county land even large enough for a soccer complex,” Classen said.

After the discussion and narrowing of goals, Classen said the list was something county staff could work toward and present a report to commissioners in May but it may not be a final list of priorities.

“This is not the end-all, be-all and if they come back in May and have something that they want as a top priority, we will do that,” Classen said. “This just gives us a guideline for budget purposes.”