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MCGRADY SAYS HE'S LOOKING AT "ALL THE OPTIONS" IN THE HENDERSONVILLE WATER ISSUE

MCGRADY SAYS HE'S LOOKING AT "ALL THE OPTIONS" IN THE HENDERSONVILLE WATER ISSUE

SAYS HE DOES NOT SEE THIS AS A "TAKE OVER"  

THE DEADLINE FOR INTRODUCING THE NECESSARY LEGISLATION COMES EARLY NEXT WEEK   

Henderson County State Representative Chuck McGrady says his mind is not made up yet…and that he’s considering all the options…regarding the Hendersonville water system.

County commissions last week indicated that McGrady is the main one they’ll be turning to to take control of the water system away from the city that owns and operates it…and put control under the North Carolina utilities Commission.

McGrady has shown support for such a move…as he puts it…to keep water rates more equal for city residents and for water customers who live outside the city. On his way back to Raleigh Sunday afternoon, McGrady said the local news media is off bas calling this a “take over”…he said he sees it as “protecting” water customers outside the city.

The whole thing, says McGrady, started with his attempt, along with former State Representative Tim Moffit of Buncombe County, to fix problems and inequities with the Asheville water system…a legislative attempt that was rejected by the state Supreme Court a few days before Christmas last year.,

Any legislation involving Hendersonville’s water system, says McGrady, will be different…and he’s looking at all the options…has really committed to nothing at this point…but he says he does not want to go back to the way it was or is. Hendersonville’s mayor, city council, and city manager have all expressed strong opposition to losing control of the city water system; county commissioners in a 3 to 1 vote adopted a resolution last week in favor of the city losing control…and McGrady says he’s hearing from them all…but still is looking at all possible options.

Time is running out though…the deadline for introducing legislation to do this with Hendersonville’s water system is early next week. If legislation is introduced in the House, it’ll also have to pass in the state Senate and be signed into law by Governor Cooper. And indications are, if all that happens, the city of Hendersonville will likely go to court to keep control of its water system. That failed attempt to take over the Asheville water system, by the way, cost water customers and taxpayers a million dollars in legal fees.

By Larry Freeman 03/19/17 Updated 4 pm

COST CUTTING ON NEW LAW ENFORCEMENT TRAINING CENTER BEGINS;  SHERIFF TO EXPLAIN THE NEED FOR THE NEW FACILITY

COST CUTTING ON NEW LAW ENFORCEMENT TRAINING CENTER BEGINS; SHERIFF TO EXPLAIN THE NEED FOR THE NEW FACILITY

THE $20 MILLION FACILITY WAS APPROVED BY COUNTY COMMISSIONERS LAST YEAR AND WILL BE PAID FOR OVER 20 YEARS WITH A FULL PENNY EACH YEAR OF THE FIVE CENT PROPERTY TAX INCREASE ALSO APPROVED BY COMMISSIONERS LAST YEAR   

As work begins this week to scale back the cost of a planned $20-million law enforcement training center planned for Blue Ridge Community College, Sheriff Charles McDonald says any significant changes could also decrease training opportunities.

A meeting is scheduled for early this week with “architect of record” Clark Nexsen to look at ways to reduce the cost. County Engineer Marcus Jones said that as the project progresses, staff will be able to narrow the budget and eliminate some of the unknowns, which many times can lower the price tag.

The proposed $20 million facility is to be paid for over a 20 year period with a full penny each year of the five-cent property tax increase imposed by county commissioners last year.
Meanwhile, Sheriff McDonald will be explaining the need for the new facility in a public meeting Monday March 27th at 6 pm in the Kaplan Auditorium of the county’s main public library. That presentation will include a “question and answer” period.

Citizens have raised concerns about the cost and the scope of the proposed new facility. Some see it as a duplication of the state’s western criminal justice training center in Edneyville. And according to media reports, recent attempts to “market” the new facility to other law enforcement agencies in the area have been met with only “lukewarm” response.

After hearing citizen's concerns, county commissioners put the proposed facility "on hold" and instructed that ways be found to cut the cost.

MISSING/ABDUCTED 12-YEAR OLD GIRL FOUND & SAFE; MOTHER IN CUSTORY

MISSING/ABDUCTED 12-YEAR OLD GIRL FOUND & SAFE; MOTHER IN CUSTORY

SATURDAY UPDATE FROM SHERIFF'S OFFICE:

12-year-old Zoee Bishop-Cantrell has been located in Jackson County Georgia.

She is safe and in protective custody awaiting transportation back to North Carolina. Her mother, Selena Bishop, has been taken into custody on felony child abduction

FROM LATE FRIDAY:

The Henderson County Sheriff's Office is requesting the public’s assistance in locating a missing/abducted child.

The child, Zoee Bishop-Cantrell, age 12, was taken from school by a non-custodial parent on Thursday, March 16, 2017. Zoee is believed to be in the company of her biological mother, Salena Bishop, age 28, who is wanted for felony abduction of a child.

They may be in the Athens, GA area. Should anyone have any information concerning the whereabouts of Zoee Bishop-Cantrell or Salena Bishop please contact the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office at 828-697-4911.

JC PENNY TO CLOSE "ANCHOR" STORE IN BLUE RIDGE MALL THIS SUMMER

JC PENNY TO CLOSE "ANCHOR" STORE IN BLUE RIDGE MALL THIS SUMMER

LIQUIDATION SALES WILL START APRIL 17      

LOCAL STORE EXPECTED TO CLOSE IN JUNE  

J.C. Penney has released the list of 138 stores it plans to close in an effort to cut costs and grow sales at its strongest locations.

The release comes a few weeks after Penney's said it would close up to 140 stores this year, following similar decisions from Macy's and Sears. Between the companies' four biggest chains, which include Sears' Kmart brand, more than 300 big-box stores will go dark this year alone.

The closures highlight the pressures on traditional department stores, which are losing market share to off-price competitors and Amazon. They also underscore the deteriorating economics at lower-quality shopping centers, whose risk of failure rises when an anchor tenant exits.

"We believe closing stores will allow us to adjust our business to effectively compete against the growing threat of online retailers," J.C. Penney CEO Marvin Ellison said in a statement back in February.

The company said at that time that most of its closures would occur in the second quarter. Liquidations will start April 17, it said Friday.

Marvin Ellison, J.C. Penney chairman and CEO JCPenney CEO: Here's why we're expanding into home services

Penney's expects to save roughly $200 million a year by exiting these locations, which contributed less than 5 percent of its annual sales. It plans to invest in its best stores and digital operations while whittling down $4.3 billion in long-term debt.

Roughly 5,000 jobs will be affected by the closures, Penney's said Friday. At the time of its initial announcement, the company said it would provide some 6,000 employees with a "voluntary early retirement program," depending on their age and tenure. Eligible employees have until March 31 to decide whether they will accept the package, a spokeswoman said.

In addition to that offer, Penney's said Friday that it is trying to relocate certain leaders and will provide outplacement support services for eligible workers.

The moves will result in a pretax charge of roughly $225 million in the first half of fiscal 2017.

In addition to its store closures, Penney's is shutting down one supply chain facility in Lakeland, Fla., and relocating another in Buena Park, Calif.

Wall Street is already speculating that more closures could be ahead. At a recent meeting with analysts in New York City, Penney's said it is testing the rollout of Sephora beauty shops and home appliances in its smaller stores. Those categories have been fueling sales growth at the company's bigger locations.

Cowen and Co. analyst Oliver Chen warned if the tests are not successful, Penney's may need to close additional stores in the future.

More closures are already expected at Macy's. The chain has so far announced just 68 of the 100 locations it plans to exit, and said last month that the remainder of those stores will go dark "over the next few years."

TICKETS ON SALE NOW FOR APRIL 15TH TRYON BLOCKHOUSE STEEPLECHASE

TICKETS ON SALE NOW FOR APRIL 15TH TRYON BLOCKHOUSE STEEPLECHASE

THE 71ST RUNNING OF THIS HISTORIC EVENT   

Tickets are now on sale for the Tryon Block House Races, the historic steeplechase of the Tryon Riding & Hunt Club (TR&HC). The race, set for Saturday, April 15, 2017, will debut at a new equestrian track in Columbus, NC, and feature a $150,000 purse, nearly double last year's winnings.

For decades, this action-packed, equestrian competition has drawn thousands of spectators to the largest tailgate party in Polk County, NC. Now under the management of the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), the races have the added support, resources and infrastructure of an international equestrian organization, attracting a more competitive field of jockeys, as well as a larger audience.

Click here to purchase tickets for the 2017 Tryon Block House Steeplechase on Saturday, April 15!

A variety of ticketing options are available for the 2017 Tryon Block House Races. Tickets may be purchased online at www.blockhouseraces.com or by calling (828) 863-0480. Tailgate parking spaces are $175 - $225 and entry to the event is per carload. Admission to the Legends Club VIP Hospitality Tent are $200 per adult and $50 per child. Front Row Finish Line Tailgate spots are $2,000 per 10-foot by 10-foot tent; limited quantities available.

New Course & Venue
Over the past 70 years, the races have grown from their humble origins at Harmon Field to the course at the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center, which has a C-level rating from the National Steeplechase Association. This year, the Tryon Block House Races are being held at a new equestrian facility on Highway 9, in Columbus, NC, equipped with an A-level rating. The new venue can accommodate more than twice the spectators than in previous years. In addition, the races will now run clockwise instead of counterclockwise, which holds true to the races' European origins, providing a unique experience for jockeys in the U.S. The improved course layout is attractive to riders with its soft footing and rolling hills. It also has a wide and even course, which is preferred by jockeys. Fans are rewarded with greater visibility of the track and much larger parking spaces.

New Partners, Bigger Purse
Now under the management of Tryon International Equestrian Center, this historic event is being marketed to a broader audience and now on a global stage thanks to TIEC winning the bid to host the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018. For the past three years, TIEC has been the feature race sponsor for The Tryon Block House Races, enabling Tryon Riding & Hunt Club to increase its purse by $30,000 and bringing the 2016 purse to $80,000. Now, with the TR&HC and TIEC partnership comes an even bigger purse, $150,000, the largest in the event's history. The nearly doubled prize purse is guaranteed to attract more riders to the event, which means more horses in the field and higher stakes for spectators to enjoy.

Old and New Entertainment
As the oldest running Steeplechase in the state of North Carolina, its consistent and strong attendance demonstrates that attendees enjoy the event's longstanding tradition. Those traditions are expected to continue. For 70 years, the annual hat and tailgate contests have sparked playful competition among neighbors, families, and friends alike. The "Go to Hell" pants contest will be back again, enticing ladies and gentlemen to wear their favorite "loud" pants. But, new traditions will also start this year. TIEC is adding additional entertainment to enhance the spectator experience. Some of the new features include a sky-diving exhibition, live musical entertainment, a kids' activity area, and paintball shooting lanes. All activities are free with admission to the event.

More Info:
For more information on the 2017 Tryon Block House Races, visit www.tryon.com.

Like Tryon International Equestrian Center on Facebook to get the latest updates and info.

Media Inquiries: Michelle McConnell Yelton, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (828) 286-9977.

About the Tryon Riding and Hunt Club
Formed in 1925, the Tryon Riding and Hunt Club seeks to enhance and preserve the traditions of the Tryon area by conducting equestrian and philanthropic programs that benefit the entire community. Learn more at www.trhc1925.org.

About the Tryon International Equestrian Center
Tryon International Equestrian Center at Tryon Resort is one of the world's premier equestrian lifestyle and competition destinations. Open in 2014, the venue provides outstanding facilities for hunter/jumper, dressage, and eventing competitions and soon will accommodate all eight equestrian disciplines. Tryon International Equestrian Center is a spring, summer and fall haven for eastern and northeastern American equestrian competitors and enthusiasts, and a year-round destination for connoisseurs of diverse cuisine, lodging getaways and family entertainment. Learn more at www.tryon.com.

 COMMISSIONERS VOTE TO ACCEPT THE LAPSLEY PROPOSAL...AND STRIP THE CITY OF CONTROL OF ITS WATER SYSTEM

COMMISSIONERS VOTE TO ACCEPT THE LAPSLEY PROPOSAL...AND STRIP THE CITY OF CONTROL OF ITS WATER SYSTEM

THIS WILL LIKEL GO NOW TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY.  

AND LIKE THE FAILED ATTEMPT TO TAKE CONTROL OF ASHEVILLE 'S WATER SYSTEM, IT MAY EVENTUALLY BE UP TO THE COURTS TO RESOLVE.  

Shortly after 12 noon Wednesday in a long county commissioner’s meeting, Commission Bill Lapsley made his case for taking control of Hendersonville’s water system away from the city and placing it under the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

Lapsley’s main argument is that well over 70 per cent of the City of Hendersonville’s water customers live outside the city and consequently, he says, they have no voice in the operation of the water system.

Lapsley confirmed that he had given city officials the option of voluntarily turning control of the city system over to a regional water authority. The city, which has owned and operated its water system for well over half a century declined and rejected that.

And Lapsley’s proposal, referred to Wednesday as “Option 2”, called for commissioners to approve a resolution asking State Representative Chuck McGrady to introduce legislation in the General Assembly turning control of the city water system over to the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

McGrady has reportedly expressed a willingness to introduce the legislation.

Commissioner Charlie Messer left the meeting. And saying the issue is one of monopoly and accountability, Commissioner Grady Hawkins made the motion to approve “:Option 2” and support the resolution which, in essence, and if approved by the legislature and signed into law by the governor, and if its sustained by the courts in the event the city sues to keep control of its system, would strip the City of Hendersonville of control of its water system.

By Larry Freeman

 

 

COST OF ARTIFICIAL TURF AT ALL FOUR COUNTY HIGH SCHOOLS WILL BE $5.4 MILLION

COST OF ARTIFICIAL TURF AT ALL FOUR COUNTY HIGH SCHOOLS WILL BE $5.4 MILLION

COMISSIONERS OK MOVING FORWARD WITH "REQUESTS FOR PROPOSALS"

At their meeting Wednesday mornbing, Henderson County commissioners learned it will cost about $5.5 million dollars to put artificial turf on the athletic fields at North, East, -Hendersonville, and West Henderson High Schools. The field at Hendersonville High School will depend on what happens with the proposed new $53 million dollar campus at Five Points.

Commissioners have some questions remaining about the long-term maintenance osts of the artificial turf, and the costs of turf versus natural grass.

Commissioners are hoping to have the installation complete and ready for use by August and the start of the new school year.

Commission Chairman Michael Edney told the group he’d like to see the the county go ahead with the artificial turf, that they’ve talked about it for years, and there is some capital money available to do it without waiting for the new fiscal year which starts July.

Commissioners voted Wednesday to appropriate $2.75 milliom to start the provess and ask for bids...final action on artificial turf could come in April.

By Larry Freeman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CITY OFFICIALS RESPOND---IN ADVANCE---TO CITY WATER ISSUES BEING RAISED BY COUNTY COMMISSIONER BILL LAPSLEY

CITY OFFICIALS RESPOND---IN ADVANCE---TO CITY WATER ISSUES BEING RAISED BY COUNTY COMMISSIONER BILL LAPSLEY

WHAT THEY ARE CALLING A "REVEW OF PUBLIC WATER UTILITY SYSTEMS" IS ON THE DISCUSSION AGENDA FOR HENDERSON COUNTY COMMISSIONERS AT 9AM WEDNESDAY IN THE HISTORIC COURTHOUSE.  

IN A SOMEWHAT SIMILAR ATTEMPT BY THE NC GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO TAKE CONTROL OF ASHEVILLE'S WATER SYSTEM AWAY FROM THE CITY OF ASHVILLE AND PLACE IT UNDER A NEW REGIONAL WATER AND SEWER AUTHORITY, THE NORTH CAROLINA SUPREME COURT RULED AGAINST THE LEGISLATION JUST BEFORE CHRISTMAS LAST YEAR AND KEPT OWNERSHIP AND CONTROL OF THE WATER SYSTEM WITH THE CITY OF ASHEVILLE  

HENDERSONVILLE CITY OFFICIALS ISSUED THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT TUESDAY:

Hendersonville City Council
March 14, 2017

It has come to the attention of the City of Hendersonville that at the Henderson County Board of Commissioners’ regular meeting on Wednesday, March 15, 2017, they will consider a resolution requesting the City to turn over its utility to a regional authority or become a regulated utility under the oversight of the North Carolina Public Utilities Commission. Furthermore, it is the City’s understanding that this initiative directly stems from Commissioner Bill Lapsley’s belief that the public interest is not protected under the City’s ownership of the utility system.

Commissioner Lapsley has recently met with Henderson County municipalities and other political leaders to discuss his proposal. During these meetings he has discussed his concerns regarding the following topics:

· Long Range Planning
· Inside /Outside Rate Differentials
· Water and Sewer Expansion Policies
· 2000 Mud Creek Settlement Agreement
· Financial Management
· Customer Disenfranchisement.

The City of Hendersonville contends that Commissioner Lapsley’s facts are misconstrued, taken out of context or simply wrong. The following are examples of proactive initiatives or improvements made by Hendersonville Water and Sewer over the last four years:

· Development of water system master plan and hydraulic model that will guide system growth and improvements until 2040.
· Water and sewer rates that are lower than Henderson County’s Cane Creek Sewer District and most water and sewer utilities in the region.
· Proactive water and sewer extensions at no cost to customers that have resolved public health issues in the Dana community and promoted economic development in Mills River.
· City staff have made presentations to the Henderson County Board of Commissioners and municipal governing boards regarding the water and sewer system and meets regularly with Henderson County staff and other stakeholders to discuss utility issues and concerns.
· The Hendersonville City Council has adopted strong financial policies the require reinvestment of cash reserves into the system.
· There has been no public outcry from customers requesting a change in the governance of the utility system. The City of Hendersonville has a strong customer service focus and all customers are treated fairly regardless of whether they live inside or outside the City of Hendersonville.

In conclusion, the City of Hendersonville believes any action to force the City into a Water and Sewer Authority or under the oversight of the Public Utilities Commission is overreaching and unjustified. Henderson County has never made any significant efforts to build a countywide water system and has indicated that they would like to get out of the sewer business. The City of Hendersonville believes this action is politically motivated and not in the best interest of the Hendersonville Water and Sewer customers.

The City of Hendersonville encourages the news media to contact elected officials from Henderson County municipalities to obtain their position on this matter.

For more information regarding this response, please contact City Manager John Connet (828) 233-3201.

ADDITIONAL RESPONSE FROM CITY OFFICIALS TO ANTICIPATED COUNTY "REVIEW" OF CITY WATER SYSTEM

ADDITIONAL RESPONSE FROM CITY OFFICIALS TO ANTICIPATED COUNTY "REVIEW" OF CITY WATER SYSTEM

CITY OFFICIALS PLANNED TO ADDRESS THE ISSUES AND THE PROPOSED TAKE-OVER RESOLUTION BEFORE COUNTY COMISSIONERS WEDNESDAY MORNING

City of Hendersonville

Official Response to Proposed Henderson County Board of Commissioners Actions Effecting Hendersonville Water and Sewer

It has come to the attention of the City of Hendersonville that at their regular meeting on Wednesday, March 15, 2017, the Henderson County Board of Commissioners will consider a resolution requesting the City to turn over its utility to a regional authority or become a regulated utility under the oversight of the North Carolina Public Utilities Commission. Furthermore, it is the City’s understanding that this initiative directly stems from Commissioner Bill Lapsley’s belief that the public interest is not protected under the City’s ownership of the utility system.
Commissioner Lapsley has recently met with Henderson County municipalities and other political leaders to discuss his proposal. During these meetings he has discussed his concerns regarding the following topics:
Long Range Planning
Inside /Outside Rate Differentials
Water and Sewer Expansion Policies
2000 Mud Creek Settlement Agreement
Financial Management
Customer Service/Disenfranchisement
The City of Hendersonville contends that Commissioner Lapsley’s opinions are misconstrued, taken out of context or simply inaccurate. The City seeks to provide data and facts refuting each of the concerns listed above, and the following are examples of proactive initiatives or improvements made by Hendersonville Water and Sewer over the last four years:
Long Range Planning
Stakeholder Meetings and Technical Advisory Committee
In 2015 the Hendersonville City Council directed staff to interview City water and sewer system stakeholders to determine what we are doing well and where improvements can be made. A third party consultant, Warren Miller with FountainWorks, was hired to speak to a wide range of stakeholders. The following stakeholders were interviewed:

Town of Fletcher
Town of Laurel Park
Henderson County Commissioners
Henderson County Staff
Town of Mills River
Village of Flat Rock
Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development (HCPED)
Agriculture Henderson County
Senator Tom Apodaca
Representative McGrady

The information generated from these interviews is currently being used to “operate a great utility for our customers” (Mission Statement). These interviews led to the formation of the Water and Sewer Technical Advisory Committee. This Committee is made up of professional staff from Henderson County and local municipalities, Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development and Agriculture Henderson County. We have just recently added representatives from the Henderson County Board of Realtors and Henderson/Transylvania Homebuilders Association. The purpose of the Committee is to provide input regarding areas of concern and future water and sewer needs in Henderson County.

Partnerships Henderson County Fire Department
In 2016 Hendersonville Water and Sewer partnered with the Henderson County Fire Chiefs’ Association to create a hydraulic model of the entire water system. This model and its data have been provided to each fire department to give them up to date information regarding fire flow data and pressure data in their individual fire districts. The completion of the model has dramatically reduced the time each fire department must dedicate to flowing water at fire hydrants to determine fire flows required for maintaining ISO ratings.

In addition, Hendersonville Water and Sewer representative met with Jay Alley, Gerton Fire Chief, following the Grand Highlands Clubhouse structure fire to discuss water supply on the top of Bearwallow Mountain. A similar meeting is scheduled for March 23 to discuss the recent structure fire in Kenmure with Chief Ray of the Blue Ridge Fire and Rescue Department. It is our intention to hold these meetings following major structure fires.

Information gathered during the creation of the water system hydraulic model has been utilized to develop a Water System Master Plan. A draft copy is attached or can be found at the following link HVL Water Master Plan . The master plan was developed utilizing NCDOT TAZ (Transportation Area Zones) and input from Henderson County staff, HCPED and other stakeholders. A formal presentation for all stakeholders will be made on April 11, 2017 at 4:00pm. This master plan provides a blueprint for water system growth over the next twenty-three years. However, the City recognizes that the master plan is a living document and will change as circumstances change in Henderson County. A similar plan is being developed for sanitary sewer. We anticipate this plan being complete in early 2018. However, in the meantime, the City has requested that our consultant (Black & Veatch) work with Henderson County staff in providing sewer to Edneyville Elementary School.

Specific Project Examples:
Etowah Water System Improvements
Eastside Water Line Extension – Edneyville/Dana
Northside Water System Improvements – Fletcher
Kenmure/Old Distillery Water Line Extension – Flat Rock

Inside/Outside Rate Differentials
Traditionally, the City of Hendersonville, like most municipal utility systems, has charged outside customers more than inside customers. The justification being that Hendersonville residents have historically taken the risk to build and maintain the system and the higher rates served as an incentive for customers to come into the corporate limits. Hendersonville’s rate differential has fluctuated through the years and prior to 2016 was approximately 166 percent. According to the UNC School of Government the median rate differential for all N.C. municipal utilities is 194 percent. Following our stakeholder interviews in 2015, the Hendersonville City Council established a policy that the rate differential should not exceed 150 percent. The current average rate differential is 148 percent. The City of Hendersonville will be performing a comprehensive rate study in 2017. One of the components of this study will be to evaluate how to create a uniform rate structure that can be implemented over a reasonable period of time.

Water and Sewer Expansion Policies
Commissioner Lapsley has stated that Hendersonville’s unwillingness to expand its water and sewer system has hurt Henderson County residents. The City will concede that prior to the early 2000’s there was little willingness to expand the water and sewer system. However, since Mud Creek Settlement Agreement in the early 2000’s, the water and sewer system has grown tremendously. From 2003 to 2008 most of the system’s growth, as with most utility systems was driven by development, and in our case, this development occurred outside of the corporate limits. However, since 2008 the City of Hendersonville has taken a much more proactive role in system expansion. The City has completed one larger water system expansion project (Eastside, Phase 1 – booster pump station and 1.5-MG water storage tank that has stabilized supply on the eastern side of Henderson County and are currently designing phase 2 and 3 of this project), one smaller water project that was in response to an area that was experiencing contaminated individual drinking water wells (20-wells exceeded the groundwater standard for deldrin and many others that were very close to this limit) in the Dana area (Academy Rd. water system project), extension of water along Schoolhouse Road in Mills River by City forces in response to the growth of agri-business in that area (Bold Rock and Tri-Hishtil) and three large sewer projects (Jackson Park, Atkinson and Wolfpen) that improved sewer service availability along the edges of Hendersonville and into the rural areas of Henderson County. City staff is also actively participating in Henderson County’s Technical Review Committee to assist with providing utilities into growing areas of Henderson County identified as part of the Urban Services Area and the Urban-Rural Transitional Area, as described in the County’s comprehensive plan.

Etowah Sewer Company
Commissioner Lapsley alleges that the customers of Etowah Sewer Company had no say so in the purchase of the system by the City of Hendersonville. First, it is the City’s understanding that Henderson County was offered the right to purchase the system and Henderson County refused. Secondly, the system is in dire need of repairs and the private company does not have the funds to make the repairs. Therefore, the existing customers and Henderson County are at risk if the system was not transferred to a larger utility entity. Etowah Sewer Company is a regulated utility and therefore the sale of the utility had to go through a public process with the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) which included notification of the impending sale to all customers on that system. The City and the Etowah Sewer Company received only two comments during the required public comment period. Due to the limited number of comments, the NCUC did not require a public hearing and approved the sale. Each Etowah Sewer Company customer received two notices of the sale and were given significant time to submit comments to the NCUC.
Specific Project Examples
Atkinson Elementary School Sewer Improvement (Joint Project with Henderson County to provide public sewer to elementary school with failing septic system)
Jackson Park Interceptor Sewer (Large project which had benefit of removing a large pump station from Jackson Park and providing gravity sewer service availability to other areas of the park)
Academy Road Water Extension (Public Health Emergency - Dana)
Schoolhouse Road Water Extension (Agri-Business Economic Development – Mills River)
Etowah Sewer Company Purchase

2000 Mud Creek Settlement Agreement
The 2000 Mud Creek Sewer District Purchase Agreement was executed prior to the hiring of current City and County management teams. The Advisory Council appointed with this agreement has not met since approximately 2003. It should also be noted that City staff has been in constant contact with Henderson County staff regarding water and sewer expansion plans over the last several years and no questions were ever raised regarding these projects. In fact, at least two of the City’s most recent sewer extension projects were discussed by the Board of Commissioners and directly benefited Henderson County (Jackson Park and Atkinson). The sewer system expansions have been well reported in the news media and no comments were received from Henderson County. To my knowledge, there has never been a prepared Annual Report and much of this information is available on our website, within the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ, formally known as the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources or NCDENR) Annual Reports or upon request. Specifically, as it relates to the purchase of Etowah Sewer Company, John Connet, the City Manager, inquired on two different occasions if additional approvals were needed from Henderson County and he was told that no additional approvals were required at this time.
Financial Management
In addition to the aforementioned rate study, the City is taking steps to ensure that the water and sewer system remains is in very good financial condition. Our reserves are strong and contrary to public perception, we are not using utility funds to subsidize the General Fund. The Water and Sewer Enterprise Fund does support its portion of internal services (fleet maintenance, legal, administration, engineering and financial management), but only on a proportionate share of expenditures basis. The City Council has instructed staff to reinvest our capital reserves into operations and system improvements.

Specific Project Examples:

Leak Detection Program has reduced water losses from 34% down to 20% over the last 1-1/2 years.
Inflow and Infiltration Reduction Program has eliminated approximately 500,000-gallons per day of potable water entering the sewer collection system over the past 1-1/2 years.

Customer Service / Disenfranchisement
Commissioner Lapsley believes that water and sewer customers who live outside the city limits are “disenfranchised” or receive less customer service than City residents. It is the standard practice of the f Hendersonville City Council and staff to respond to any customer inquiry or concern regardless of the customer’s “inside” or “outside” status. The City Council is very responsive to any customer concern or issue. The Hendersonville Customer Service Team responds to over 800 calls a week and they never ask whether a customer resides inside or outside the city. All rate increases are look reviewed from an “entire customer base perspective”.
Specific Examples
Haywood Veterinary Clinic
Old Distillery Road
Academy Road Water Project

In conclusion, the City of Hendersonville believes any action to force the City into a Water and Sewer Authority or under the oversight of the NCUC is overreaching and unjustified. The City is troubled by the fact that Commissioner Lapsley’s concerns have not been brought to us directly prior to this proposed action. Several of the topics were discussed during the stakeholder interviews, and as illustrated above, the City has been open to comments, suggestions and improvements by its customers and surrounding communities. If Hendersonville Water and Sewer customers had truly been negatively impacted over the years by the items Mr. Lapsley is now stating; surely the most logical step would have been to have honest and constructive discussions with City elected officials and staff at the time. Therefore, we believe this action is simply politically motivated and not in the best interest of the Hendersonville Water and Sewer customers.

For more information regarding this response, please contact John Connet, City Manager, at (828) 233-3201

THE NEW SPARTANBURG HIGHWAY INGLES SUPERMARKET WILL OPEN APRIL 20TH

THE NEW SPARTANBURG HIGHWAY INGLES SUPERMARKET WILL OPEN APRIL 20TH

GROCERY SHOPPERS ON THE SOUTH END OF HENDERSONVILLE WILL SOON HAVE A NEW, LARGER, EXPANDED OPTION  

260 EMPLOYEES   OPENING DATE IS APRIL 20TH     

The work on the new Ingles on the Spartanburg Highway in Hendersonville is almost finished and plans are for the new store toopen its doors April 20, and the store is looking to hire more than 250 employees.

Ron Freeman, Ingles’ chief financial officer, has announced that while there will not be a ribbon-cutting event, there will be several specials, samples and attendance by corporate executives throughout the opening weekend.

The store will hire approximately 260 employees for part-time and full-time positions. The new location is currently hiring, and the next on-site job fair is scheduled for March 28-30.

Those interested in applying can begin the application process at www.ingles-markets.com/inside/career/

The new store will be 72,000 square feet, and replaces the original 46,379-square-foot Ingles previously located in the same spot.

The new and larger store that replaces an old Ingles nearby on Spartanburg Highway will include a pharmacy, Starbucks and “Gas Express” gas station.