Pilot Mountain fire update planned at Board of Commissioners meeting
by Keith Strange
Civitas News Service
DOBSON — A briefing by the North Carolina Department of Parks and Recreation on the November fire at Pilot Mountain State Park highlights the agenda when the Surry County Board of Commissioners meet for its regular meeting Monday night.
The meeting is set to get under way at 6 p.m. in the Commissioners Meeting Room of the Surry County Government Center in Dobson.
Matt Windsor, Pilot Mountain State Park superintendent, and Jon Blanchard, head of natural resources for North Carolina State Parks, are on the agenda and scheduled to give an update during the meeting.
Last month, officials with the North Carolina Forestry Service, whose department took over fighting the November blaze, told the board that while the Parks Service did an admirable job of initially controlling the fire until his department took over, the controlled burn should have never been started.
It was a sentiment echoed by the board, many of whom had harsh words noting the Park Service did not attend the meeting.
On Thursday board Chairman Eddie Harris said he didn’t realize Park Service was not informed the fire would be addressed.
“There was some miscommunication as to whether they were invited to the previous meeting and I accept full responsibility for that,” he said. “In the interest of fairness and transparency, they deserve the opportunity to speak to us.”
Harris said the board isn’t requiring the update.
“The invitation to talk to the commissioners was extended to them, and I made it perfectly clear that it is totally at their discretion as to whether they want to come and present their side of what happened during the fire,” he said. “I want, and I think the board wants, for them to be able to present their side if they’re so inclined.”
According to the board chairman, county officials have a long-standing and productive relationship with the Park Service.
“I’m sure the citizens of Surry County will be interested in what they have to say, and I think the Park Service obviously has been a good partner with the county in the past, and we certainly want to keep the lines of communication open and work together with them to ensure these issues are addressed to the satisfaction of everyone involved,” he said.
The only other item on Monday’s agenda is a public hearing for comments on a proposed change in an industrial development incentive package.
County Attorney Ed Woltz said the hearing is a matter of housekeeping.
“Back when the economic incentive package for Pittsburg Glass Works was passed, we had a component of the deal financed by Golden LEAF funds,” he said.
That component focused on using the state funds to purchase and lease $2 million worth of equipment needed by the company.
“As things worked out, the company ended up buying the equipment outright,” Woltz said. “Since a public hearing was held on the initial incentive package, we need to have another hearing since the terms have undergone a minor change.”
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.
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