WPCOG - Newsletter
October 2020

Community & Economic Development
Community & Regional Planning

Regional Housing Authority
Transportation Planning

Workforce Development Board

Regional Housing Authority
This will be the seventh RHA Landlord Workshop. The RHA looks forward to a virtual meeting via Zoom, with a call in option for landlords.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a landlord through the Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) program, please contact Kala Guido at 828.485.4282 or kala.guido@wpcog.org.

This year's workshop will be focused on how COVID has effected landlords in our region. We plan to discuss the Eviction Moratorium and Cares Act funds. Also, Legal Aid of NC will be presenting on hot topic for landlords.

To Join the Zoom Meeting, please click on the following link:

Article by Kala Guido

Sawmills Starts New Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan
Launched in October 2020, a new Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan is now under development for the Town of Sawmills. Staff from the WPCOG will develop the new Plan under the leadership of a Town steering committee and community input. The new Plan aims to provide the Town leaders with guidance in making policy decisions concerning the network, prioritization, and implementation of bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
Currently, Town residents, businesses, and visitors are all encouraged to share their values by taking a quick interactive survey online at: https://sawmillsplan.metroquest.com
A draft plan is expected by Spring 2021. Once adopted, the Plan will guide the design of state-maintained roads when improvements are made inside Town limits, and guide the prioritization of locally administered improvements, such as extending and maintaining sidewalks. As an example, the Plan would provide the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) direction on the design of their funded project for Cajahs Mountain Road. That NCDOT project plans to straighten curves, add some turns lanes, and other safety elements between 321A and Connelly Springs Road. The Town's Plan will recommend whether a sidewalk, side-running shared-use path, or other facilities should be included among NCDOT's improvements.
To learn more about this Plan and others in the region, you may visit the WPCOG Bicycle and Pedestrian web page at: www.wpcog.org/bicycle-pedestrian

On October 6, WPCOG staff attended the Sawmills Farmers Market to share the new Plan's launch.

Article by Brian Horton

Workforce Development Board
WDB Annual Report - Program Year 2019
The purpose of the Western Piedmont Workforce Development Board is to be at the center of community and regional leadership to identify workforce challenges, to be the convener of the conversation to resolve the challenges, to be the champion for workforce development, to work in a collaborative partnership with key stakeholders, (especially economic development and education), to bring resources to bear on resolving the challenges, and to act as the accountability agent to ensure the work is completed. 

Through planning and oversight of the Western Piedmont Workforce Development Board in Program Year 2019 (July 1, 2019 - June 30, 2020) our local area NCWorks Career Centers have delivered thousands of services. You can access the full report at www.wpcog.org/publications or clicking the image below.   

Article by Wendy Johnson

Area Agency on Aging
October is Resident's Rights Month!
October is Resident's Rights Month! This year's theme is "Connection Matters!" Now more than ever our Long Term Care residents need to be connected to the community to have their voices heard. In March of 2020 all Long Term Care facilities closed their doors to visitors and all non-essential providers. Since then most residents have only seen their family members and loved ones through a window or on a computer or phone screen. These months of restrictions have taken their toll on our long term care residents and have emphasized the impact that visitor have on their health and wellbeing. During this crisis many facilities have come up with creative ways for resident's to stay connected to their loved ones such as using FaceTime and virtual meeting sites for face to face visit, but due to some cognitive and physical limitations of some residents, not all have been able to utilize this technology.
Luckily, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has recently issued guidance to lift some of these restrictions for facilities who are COVID-free for 14 days. If you or a loved one reside in a long-term care facility and would like to know the COVID status of your facility, visit Weekly-COVID19-Ongoing-Outbreaks.pdf to see if your facility is currently listed with an outbreak on the "COVID 19 Ongoing Outbreaks in Congregate Living Settings Report". This list is updated by the North Carolina Division of Health and Human Services (DHHS) each Tuesday and Friday by 4pm. It also lists the number of outbreaks and deaths in each facility.

It is important for everyone to be familiar with resident's rights, especially at a time when our Long Term Care residents are most vulnerable. The following are the rights established by the Residents' Bill of Rights:
  • To be treated with consideration, respect, and full recognition of personal dignity and individuality.
  • To receive adequate care, treatment, and services that are adequate and appropriate, and in compliance with relevant federal and state rules.
  • To receive at the time of admission and during stay, a written statement of services provided by the facility and of related charges. Charges for services not covered under Medicare and Medicaid shall be specified.
  • To have on file a physician's orders with proposed schedule of medical treatment. Written, signed evidence of prior informed consent to participation in experimental research shall be in patient's file.
  • To receive respect and privacy in his medical care program. All personal and medical records are confidential.
  • To be free of physical and mental abuse. To be free of chemical and physical restraint unless authorized for a specific period of time by a physician according to clear and indicated medical records.
  • To receive from the administrator or staff of the facility a reasonable response to all requests.
  • To receive visitors or have access to privacy in phone use at any reasonable hour. To send and receive mail promptly and unopened, with access to writing materials.
  • To manage his/her own financial affairs unless other legal arrangements have been so ordered.
  • To have privacy in visits by the patient's spouse.
  • To enjoy privacy in his/her own room.
  • To present grievances and recommend changes in policies and services without fear of reprisal, restraint, interference, coercion, or discrimination.
  • To not be required to perform services for the facility without resident's consent and written approval of the attending physician.
  • To retain, to secure storage for, and to use his personal clothing and possessions, where reasonable.
  • To not be transferred or discharged from a facility except for medical, financial, or their own or other patient's welfare. Any such transfer shall require at least five days' notice, unless the attending physician orders immediate transfer, which shall be documented in the patient's medical record.
  • To be notified when the facility's license is revoked or made provisional. The responsible party or guardian must be notified also. 
If you have questions or concerns about facility visitation or the rights of residents in Long Term Care contact your local Ombudsman at 828-485-4213 or 828-485-4265.

Article by Christina Franklin

Community & Economic Development
Contractors Needed for Home Repair Programs

To view the full Contractor Information Sheet and Application to be listed on the Contractor's Roster, click the image above.
The Western Piedmont Council of Governments is seeking contractors to participate in several home repair programs that are available in counties across the region.

The WPCOG has received funding of more than $2 million for programs such as Essential Single-Family Repairs (ESFR), Urgent Repair Program (URP) and Scattered-Site Housing. The maximum expenses for the repair programs are up to $30,000 for ESFR, $9,000 for URP, and $72,000 for Scattered-Site Housing.

The counties included in the WPCOG program area are Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba and Iredell. Typical repairs for ESFR include heating, electrical, handicapped access, windows and doors. URP repairs include heating, roofing, flooring and handicapped access. The Scattered-Site Housing repair program is funded through the N.C. Department of Commerce and involves repairs that are more comprehensive. The WPCOG provides administration for the programs, and payments are made in a prompt fashion.

For projects under $30,000, contractors do not have to be licensed but must carry liability insurance of at least $300,000 for personal injury and $100,000 for property damage, along with workers' compensation insurance if required by statutes.

For projects more than $30,000, contractors must be licensed and carry the same type of liability and workers' compensation coverages.

The WPCOG maintains a list of eligible repair projects in the five counties it services. For more information about contracting opportunities, contact Laurie Powell at the WPCOG at 828-485-4249 or by email at laurie.powell@wpcog.org.

Article by Paul Teague

Community & Regional Planning
Fall 2020 EIN Highlights Hickory Metro Region Traffic Count Trends
The current issue addresses Hickory Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) unemployment rates, Hickory Metro State gross collections and Hickory MSA traffic counts.
Here are a few key highlights of the EIN:
  • After rising to 17.6% in April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployment rate in the Hickory MSA fell to 9.0% in July 2020.
  • Between July 2019 and July 2020, the estimated number of employed persons decreased from 169,322 to 151,885 (-17,437), while the civilian labor force fell from 176,537 to 166,984 (-9,553).
  • Hickory MSA State gross tax collections grew from $163.5 million in 2015 to $197.8 million in 2019.
  • Data from the North Carolina Department of Transportation reveals that the highest 2019 traffic count in the Hickory Metro region of 68,500 vehicles per day occurred along I-40 between US Highway 321 (Exit 123) and L-R Blvd (Exit 125).
  • The largest traffic volume increase in the Hickory-Newton-Conover area between 2009 and 2019 (12,500 vehicles per day) was along I-40 between the Longview and US 321 exits and between the L-R Blvd and McDonald Parkway exits.
  • The highest Alexander County traffic count in 2019 (13,500) was located at NC 16 just south of US 64 in Taylorsville
  • Between 2009 and 2019 Average Daily Traffic (ADT) increases of more than 2,000 vehicles per day occurred along NC 16 south of Wittenburg Road, at NC 16 south of US 64 and at US 64-NC 90 west of NC 127.
  • Twelve traffic count locations in Caldwell County had ADTs of 25,000 or more in 2019. Nearly all of these counts occurred on US 321 between Lenoir and the Catawba River Bridge.
  • Traffic counts along US 321 were much higher in 2019 than in 2017 along US 321 between NC 268 and the Catawba County line.
  • Burke County/Morganton area traffic counts higher than 40,000 vehicles per day in 2019 were all found along I-40.
  • The largest traffic count increases (9,000 to 10,000 vehicles per day) in Burke County over the past ten years took place at on I-40 between the Causby Road (Exit 98) and Bethel Road (Exit 106). Over the past two years, the largest increase (2,800 vehicles per day) was located on Lenoir Road (US 64-NC 18) north of Sanford Drive.
See the selected figures below for additional information. The EIN is produced quarterly and is a publication of the Western Piedmont Workforce Development Board. To subscribe to the EIN click here or, please contact Taylor Dellinger, Data Analyst at 828-485-4233 or by email taylor.dellinger@wpcog.org. To see the latest edition click here.

Western Piedmont Council of Governments
1880 Second Ave NW
Hickory, NC 28601
The following figures come from the Fall 2020 edition of the EIN.

Article by Taylor Dellinger


All scheduled meetings are currently being conducted electronically. For a listing of upcoming meetings and information on how to participate or attend, please visit www.wpcog.org/electronic-public-meetings.

Stay Connected
1880 2nd Ave NW · Hickory, NC 28601 · 828.322.9191