By David Rogers. October 12, 2020. BLOWING ROCK, NC — A relatively light agenda for the regular October meeting of the Blowing Rock Town Council should bring little in the controversy, but arguably the most important item is almost hidden in the Consent Agenda.
Back in 2012, the then sitting Blowing Rock Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution aimed at Watauga County, recognizing the need for additional ambulance transport crews in the county and positioning them, geographically, to better serve all of Watauga County (not just Boone).
At least including the resolution in the Consent Agenda — and reaffirming it — elevates the issue’s importance to Watauga County taxpayers living outside of the Boone town limits, but may not be enough to change the minds of the members of the Watauga County Board of Commissioners who stubbornly refuse to listen to logic and reason.
Blowing Rock’s 2012 resolution delineated many facts:
- That roughly 50% of emergency medical calls in Watauga County are from outside of the Boone Fire District — while all ambulances in Watauga County are based in the Town of Boone
- That all fire districts in Watauga County with the exception of Bone receive ambulance response times greater than the 10-minute average contractual maximum
- That Blowing Rock Fire District generates approximately 15% of the emergency medical calls in Watauga County, second only to Boone’s call volume
- That the Blowing Rock Fire District provides approximately 22.1% of the tax revenue applicable to the supplement provided to Watauga Medics, Inc. by Watauga County
- That the Town of Blowing Rock and Blowing Rock Fire & Rescue are willing to provide a facility to house an ambulance and crew at nominal cost to Watauga Medics, Inc. or Watauga County
Since 2012, the service imbalance for ambulance transport in Watauga County has only worsened with the population growth outside of the Boone town limits. To their credit, in 2017, the County Board of Commissioners added a 24/7 ambulance base in Vilas that was aimed at reducing the Watauga Medics response times in the western areas of the county. Unofficially, we have heard that the county commissioners are currently looking to add another base in Deep Gap, near the extreme eastern border that Watauga County shares with Wilkes County, but there have been no announced plans to add a 24/7 base in the more populated Blowing Rock Fire District nor in the southwest or northern parts of the county.
Many citizens living outside of Boone are up in arms over the County’s failure to provide this basic public safety service and the insult and outcry began to reach full throttle last year when the County Board of Commissioners voted to raise property taxes throughout the County in order to pay for a $40+ million community recreation center that will primarily benefit in-town Boone residents and businesses.
For a more thorough review of this EMS service issue, please see Blowing Rock News’ recent editorial, “Under-funding, or misplaced priorities?” by
Other October Town Council agenda items:
- PUBLIC HEARING — Annexation of 252 Heather Ridge Lane
- BUSINESS MATTERS — Replacement of bulk chemical tanks at the Town’s water treatment plant
- BUSINESS MATTERS — Discussion and potential decision regarding three options for improving the crosswalks serving the intersection of Main Street and Sunset Drive
- BUSINESS MATTERS — A report by Planning Director Kevin Rothrock on recommendations from the Planning Board’s zoning subcommittee on the Valley Blvd. “Visioning”
After the regular session, the Council is scheduled to go into closed session. There is no indication that a decision will be voted on. The board packet simply states, “Attorney/Client update on current litigation,” without referencing the nature and scope of the litigation.