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Watauga Letter Applies Heat to Smoky PDF Print
Written by Steve Frank   
Wednesday, 25 September 2013 05:57

The Smoky Mountain Center Board of Directors meet tomorrow with their agenda including restructuring the board they’re serving on, a restructuring that will end representation for many of the counties that pay for their agency. They’ll also have a strongly-worded local letter in opposition. The matter was brought up at the Watauga Commission meeting last week, with very pointed criticism of the agency, the CEO, and the action planned that would take local representation off of the board.  Wilkes County Manager John Yates said last week their board is so mad that they’re looking into paying service provider Daymark directly, bypassing Smoky Mountain Center, with the matter taken up by the county attorney and the Institute of Government in Chapel Hill, Yates saying there is ‘murkiness’ in the state statutes on reimbursement matters, and they are investigating further.  Wilkes, according to Yates, pays the largest amount to Smoky Mountain for services to their citizens of any of the 26 counties in their current service area and would also lose its representative. Meanwhile, the letter the Watauga Commission voted to have chairman Nathan Miller write should have arrived, a letter dated Sunday that notifies the Chair of the Smoky Mountain board and the chair of the Western Highlands Network board of the unanimous opposition of the Watauga board to the change in representation. In his letter, Miller criticizes Smoky for hiring a lobbyist to seek legislative changes in spite of its own board’s opposition to taking that action. Miller’s letter concludes by requesting Smoky’s board to partner with Watauga and lobby the legislature to restore representation of elected officials “so that the citizens providing funding to the LME have a say in how those funds are utilized.”

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