In Monday meeting, commissioners split time equally between open, closed session

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to state charges against owners of JJC racing have been dismissed.

With an agenda relatively light on business items, Rowan County commissioners on Monday spent just as much time in open session as they did discussing lawsuit strategy in private.

In open session, commissioners approved the consent agenda — parking spaces for veterans at West End Plaza and the sale of a 1922 gun were on the list — presented a plaque naming the Peter Kern House a historic landmark and reviewed up-to-date tax revenues. In closed session, the board discussed strategy in a lawsuit that accuses Rowan County of malicious prosecution, according to County Attorney Jay Dees.

Notable items on the consent agenda, which commissioners approved, included:

• Designating six parking spaces at West End Plaza for military medal recipients

The proposal was submitted by county commissioners Craig Pierce and Mike Caskey. The pair propose placing the six spaces as close as possible to the Veterans Services office at West End Plaza. The office is currently under construction.

Pierce’s and Caskey’s proposal asks Veterans Services to draft language for parking space signs and present it to commissioners for final approval.

• Voting to proceed with the sale of a 1928 .45 Caliber Thompson Sub-Machine Gun

The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office received the weapon, nicknamed a tommy gun, from the U.S. Navy in 1966. Sheriff Kevin Auten said his agency doesn’t have a use for the weapon.

It will be sold on

Notable items on the regular agenda included:

• Presenting a plaque designating the Peter Kern House as a historic landmark

Rowan County residents Jim and Kathy Carlton restored the house, which is located on Kern Carlton Road near High Rock Lake. Jim Carlton thanked commissioners for the plaque and noted that the house has been in the original family for all but seven years.

With its designation, the house is one of only four places designated as a Rowan County historic landmark. Other locations include Kerr Mill, the Richard Wainwright Barber Farm and Organ Zion Lutheran Church.

• Receiving a report from Finance Director Leslie Heidrick

Heidrick said the county’s current year budget is tracking close to the previous three years. Rowan County government is currently at 47 percent of its expenditures, which is where Heidrick said she expects it to be.

She said tax revenues appear to be showing an improved economy in Rowan County.

After the open portion of Monday’s meeting, commissioners spent about 30 minutes in closed session. As part of the closed session, commissioners discussed a lawsuit that Dees said concerned JJC Racing. Specifically, commissioners were discussing trial strategy, Dees said.

Owners of JJC Racing in 2013 were accused by sheriff’s deputies of stealing belongings from the company. Dees said charges against the owners were dismissed. Now, the company is suing Rowan county for malicious prosecution, Dees said.

After closed session, commissioners adjourned the meeting without taking any action on the lawsuit.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.