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The Town of Banner Elk held its monthly meeting on Monday, Jan. 11.

BANNER ELK — The Banner Town Council reconvened for its monthly meeting on Monday, Jan. 11, in which Ted Silver, chairman of the Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee, began the meeting by addressing the council.

Silver thanked Mayor Brenda Lyerly for her work on the NC FIRST Commission, which is tasked with looking at sustainable ways to fund the state’s transportation systems and infrastructure. Lyerly is the rural representative on the committee, and the committee has recently released a report detailing future suggestions for sustainability and funding that will help lawmakers craft future legislation.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is that we have a representative there,” Silver said. “I did catch (Mayor Lyerly’s) presentation with her part of the report, and it was well said and well represented. I look forward to the mayor continuing to be a voice in Raleigh for the rural part of North Carolina.”

As part of the 20th anniversary of National Mentoring Month, the council approved a proclamation thanking the mentors in the area who provide children with a positive mentor and role model.

National Mentoring Month celebrates the benefits of youth mentoring across the country. Every day in communities across the country, caring adults volunteer their time with mentoring programs to create consistent and supportive relationships with young people. One such local organization is Western Youth Network, which operates in both Avery and Watauga counties.

“They are always looking for more mentors,” Lyerly said of WYN. “There are more kids in need than there are mentors.”

“I know some people that have been mentors, and they say they get as much out of it as the kids do. It’s really rewarding,” Councilman Charles VonCanon said.

The town approved the appointment of Scott Garland, part owner of Stonewalls Restaurant in Banner Elk, to the town’s Tourism Development Authority. The vote was unanimous, as the council expects Garland to benefit the board by providing his expertise and knowledge of the area. The town then approved two budget amendments, with the first being related to a contract the town had previously agreed to with S&ME for work at a water tank site at The Vistas in Banner Elk. The amendment approved the expense of $14,500 for the geotechnical exploration and slope stability analysis at the site, with the work to be overseen by David Poore with West Consultants.

The second budget amendment relates to the purchase of speed radar signs for the Banner Elk Police Department. One speed radar sign is already posted outside of Lees-McRae College. Chief Kevin Hodges said the second radar is planned to be stationed outside of the old hospital site. The radars are able to be removed and placed at different locations around the community.

Town Manager Rick Owen discussed the issue of needing to update the town’s meter reading software. The software is known as the Neptune 360 Data Management Information system, and Owen requested that the town reallocate $7,000 toward updating this software, since the software is moving toward a cloud-based service. The council unanimously approved the reallocation of funds.

The council also approved to update of the town’s charter from the High Country Council of Government’s Executive Board. The original charter was issued in 1974 and was amended on two prior occasions.

Town Manager Rick Owen gave the Town Manager’s update, in which he reported that the county’s COVID-19 infection rate is listed in the red, or critical category, by the state health department. Additionally, the county’s infection rate has returned to a rate that is higher than the state average.

The town had about four “substantial” water leaks over the past week, one of which was off of Beech Mountain Parkway. The leaks have since been repaired and Owen commended the public works department’s efforts for getting the situation under control.

The council met in closed session before adjourning.

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