NEWLAND — Much remains the same with county officials as the Avery County Board of Commissioners performed its annual appointments at its Dec. 2 meeting.

Phillip Barrier, Cindy Turbyfill, Tim Greene, Bruce Daniels and Michaelle Poore are each returning as County Manager, Assistant County Manager and Clerk, Finance Officer, Tax Administrator and county attorney, respectively, after a quick series of votes to make the appointments.

Cannon Memorial Hospital President Carmen Lacey and Avery County EMS Director Mike Edmisten came to the board for approval of a grant Cannon Memorial has been awarded for $290,000 by the Duke Endowment for paramedicine.

Community Paramedicine, according to the presentation given by Lacey, is “an EMS professional with specialized training in providing intervention and resources to high-risk individuals.”

The professional would perform face-to-face visits and telephone calls to high-risk patients, provide health promotion and education and integrate different resources.

Among the claimed benefits are reduced 911 calls for non-urgent services and the integration of resources.

One note from the presentation was in 2018 there were 113 emergency room visits by only six patients, averaging to 19 visits per patient.

The Duke Endowment gave out $160 million in grants last year alone.

The grant funding would pay for the program for three years, with payments split into three installments of $121,000, $85,500 and $83,500 paid out in the years 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively.

The budget cycle for the program would begin on Jan. 1, 2020.

There were some concerns with the board about funding the program beyond the three years provided by the grant, that the county may have to take on some unanticipated expenses to keep the program going, but ultimately the commissioners approved the grant.

In other news:

- The county recognized the 50th anniversary of Sugar Mountain Resort with a resolution. Sugar is one of the winter tourism drivers for the area.

- The county approved the addition of another corporal to Avery County Sheriff’s Office. This change does not create a new position at the office but simply changes the title of one of the current positions. There is a pay increase associated with the rank, but the commissioners agreed to not allocate more funding for salary unless it becomes necessary down the road.

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