NEWLAND — The Avery County Board of Commissioners held its first meeting in the brand new community building at the Avery County Agricultural Extension on Monday, Jan. 4, in which District 46 Senator Warren Daniel was sworn in to begin a sixth term serving in the General Assembly.

Newly elected North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Tamara Barringer conducted the swearing-in ceremony as Lydia Daniel, Daniel’s wife, held up the Bible on which Daniel rested his hand swearing the oath. Afterward, Barringer shared some kind words about Daniel’s service to the area.

“This is truly my honor and privilege to be able to do this today,” Barringer said. “I was very privileged to get to work very closely with Senator Warren Daniel during the over six years that I was a senator with him. He took me under his wing and mentored and helped me. I will tell you that this man is a man of self-discipline, integrity and professionalism.”

Daniel also shared his thoughts with those in attendance who had gathered to witness the swearing-in ceremony.

“We have the option to wait until we go back to Raleigh and be sworn in there, but I thought even though it’s my sixth time, it’s still always special. It’s special too now that I represent Avery County, and I wanted to do it up here for that reason,” Daniel said.

After a brief intermission, the board of commissioners reconvened for its formal session, in which the first order of business was to appoint Angela Berry to the Economic Development Committee.

The board then heard from Director of Planning & Inspections Tommy Burleson in relation to developments at Eagles Nest. The first development includes five lots to be a part of the Sunset Lots at Eagles Nest. The lots are located in the Fall Creek Fire Department District and are close to the back entrance of the development. The development includes 14 lots to be included as part of the Cabins at Eagles Nest, which are located near the main gate and fall under the coverage of the Banner Elk Fire District. The Planning Board has approved final plats for the two areas.

After a lengthy discussion, the board unanimously voted to approve both subdivisions.

Tax Administrator Bruce Daniels then give the monthly tax report. Daniels reported a collections rate above 80 percent, above the collection percentage from where it was a year ago. Additionally, property sales continue to be “robust” through the month of December.

In his County Manager’s report, Philip Barrier commended the work done on the community building and thanked the taxpayers. Barrier said that the county has 128 active cases as of Wednesday, Dec. 30, with 33 of those cases being in the correctional facilities. The county is below the state average of 13.6 percent for positive cases.

The low-income energy assistance program is now available through the Department of Social Services by calling (828) 733-8230. Barrier also bragged on Avery County Schools Nutrition Director Tammy Woodie for organizing the food distribution at Newland Elementary ahead of the Christmas break, as well as the other local agencies involved.

COVID-19 testing will continue at the county pool complex on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Barrier reported that the testing process has improved. The health department is moving through phase 1A of its vaccination rollout and is expected to be finished by the end of the week. Walgreens and CVS have also begun going into the local assisted living facilities and administering vaccines.

Finance Officer Caleb Hogan reported that the Avery County Board of Elections has received funding to give $100 to each poll worker who worked during the last election. Early voting workers will also receive approximately $19 for each day that they worked.

The board entered into closed session before adjourning.

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