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Council of Governments opens up new digs to public



Article Published: Nov. 12, 2009 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

The High Country Council of Governments has a new home, and the council invites the public to drop in and learn more about its work with local governments.

The HCCOG board voted in October 2007 to pursue ownership of a building after leasing space for more than 35 years. After some research and renovation, the HCCOG moved into a new site on New Market Boulevard in Boone earlier this fall.

"The General Assembly changed the law in 2005 to allow councils of governments to own property," said executive director Rick Herndon. "We'd spent time looking at different sites and even considered a new building from scratch. Then we found the former Sears location and it worked out really well."

There are 17 councils of governments in the state. The High Country Council of Governments was formerly known as Region D, but the name was changed to a descriptive form that would represent the council's work.

The organization started in 1974, located in the Executive Arts Building on Furman Road in Boone, then moved in 2004 to Greenway Business Park. The lease there expired just as the council was moving into the New Market location.

"The timing was great," Herndon said. "It's an advantage to have our home here and not worry about lease situations and you have control over that. We have a 20-year loan at 4.1 percent interest."

The former space had 7,500 square feet and the new location has 10,200 square feet , housing the Workforce Development Board, Area Agency on Aging, HCCOG finance and planning departments and computer assistance programs. The building cost $1.5 million and includes an acre of land.

"We've still got all our programs and, through federal stimulus funding, we've got a few temporary positions in so we really needed the extra office space," Herndon said. "It's a great spot and we're really enjoying it here and we're excited about it."

The HCCOG receives federal and state funding, as well as dues from local governments. It serves Watauga, Alleghany, Ashe, Mitchell, Yancey, Avery and Wilkes counties.

Its mission is to provide technical assistance, planning and delivery of services to local governments, as well as coordinate regional communication between governments to pursue joint projects or common goals. "With the variety of services we offer, we try to be responsive to the needs of our local governments," Herndon said.

An open house will be held for the HCCOG's new building on Monday, Nov. 16 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The building is located at 468 New Market Boulevard. For more information, visit http://www.regiond.org.

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