BANNER ELK — The Town of Banner Elk met on Monday, April 13, and passed its emergency meeting ordinance, allowing board members to meet via videoconference in order to abide by social distancing measures that have been put in place.
During open discussion, board members discussed a bridge project that was under way in town.
“[The North Carolina Department of Transportation] has been working and planning that project for several years now. We didn’t know that they were starting on it now, but we have been working with them on a water line that is beside the bridge. They’re going to widen the road a little bit and the bridge is going to be wider,” town manager Rick Owen said.
Owen gave council members an update on the COVID-19 situation in Banner Elk and mentioned that Cannon Memorial Hospital is still doing drive-through testing. As of Tuesday, April, 14, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Avery County, and all tests have come back negative, according to the Avery County Health Department.
“Because we get a lot of traffic from Roan Mountain, Roan Mountain worries me a bit more than Watauga County because they have a few cases in Roan Mountain now,” Owen said.
Mayor Brenda Lyerly mentioned that she had heard that a construction worker in Sugar Mountain had contracted COVID-19 in Florida and his case had been recorded there. Owen addressed the statement, responded by saying that any hearsay should be easy to dispel.
“I think I can found out real easily if there’s any truth to that. I’ve heard similar stories about some gated communities, but no one has confirmed that, including the county manager, the health department and the operators of those gated communities,” Owen said.
Additionally, Owen mentioned that if any state employees, such as police officers, were assumed to have contracted COVID-19, they would get a preferential test.
Town employees are still on the payroll, and the town is not enforcing any utility cutoffs due to an executive order issued by Gov. Roy Cooper.
Councilman Mike Dunn gave an update on local businesses in Banner Elk and mentioned that many businesses are looking at taking advantage of loan programs administered by government and the Small Business Administration.
The garden club completed its project in Tate-Evans Town Park and received high praise from the board members.
The town is also postponing several projects including the water tank removal at the Historic Banner Elk School in order to avoid disrupting water lines in the town. The town is also waiting to make decisions on public events such as the Memorial Day celebration and the charity golf tournament.
Additionally, Owen encouraged residents to fill out their forms for the 2020 Census.