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  • Gov. Roy Cooper greets Hayesville city council member Will Penland on the square in downtown Hayesville. Ashely Kairis * Clay County Progress

Governor Cooper tours Hayesville

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper made his rounds through several western North Carolina counties last week including a Thursday afternoon visit to Hayesville. His one-hour time slot in the downtown square was divvied up between conversations with local officials, greeting the public and a one-on-one video interview with the Clay County Progress.

Starting off his trip was a meeting at Nocturnal Brewing, a 1950s building that was renovated through the Main Street Solutions Fund. Representative of town and county government as well as local coalition and community leaders gathered to welcome Cooper. After a brief presentation from County Manager Mark Pullium, Cooper turned to speak to the dozens of attendees. “I am here to help. I believe in what you’re doing here. I believe in developing rural North Carolina,” said Cooper. “I believe here in western North Carolina that we have a lot of untapped potential that a lot of you already see and have begun that process.” Covering topics of broadband, substance abuse, education and environmental protections, Cooper emphasized his desire to see Clay County support the expansion of Medicaid.

“If we would take this [opportunity] it would insure about 400 more people in Clay County that are uninsured right now, which makes a big difference. It would create 17 jobs here in Clay County and more economic activity,” said Cooper. He later urged county commissioners and town council members to create resolutions officially saying that they want it for the area. “It’s just a positive bi-partisan thing that we can do,” said Cooper.

Before heading out to meet the crowd of people on the courthouse lawn, a Nocturnal Brewing staffer mentioned a concern regarding the lack of affordable housing in the area for young adults. “It’s an issue that’s all over the state. We just had Hurricane Florence plow through eastern North Carolina and it put a real spotlight on problems already there for affordable housing for people,” responded Cooper. Superintendent of schools

Dr. Gary Gibson took a moment to express the needs in Hayesville. He said, “We would love somehow for a traditional public school like we have to get some of the benefits that others get in the state that are not traditional. Then we can make our money go a whole lot farther. The local government is giving us about everything they’ve got, and we would like to have more help from the state or we will continue to have larger class sizes and fewer teachers.” Cooper responded, “I’m supporting a bond issue that would provide close to $11 million to Clay County for school construction and renovation, also 2.6 million to Tri-County for help.”

Mayor Harry Baughn then led the governor to the courthouse lawn where he spoke briefly to the crowd about how he proposes to strengthen rural communities. Shaking hands, taking group photos and even petting a golden retriever, Cooper greeted all who came to see him before heading inside for a tour of the restored courthouse.

CLAY COUNTY PROGRESS EXCLUSIVE:

By Ashley Kairis Staff writer

Clay County Progress

Mailing Address: PO Box 483, Hayesville, NC 28904
Physical Address: 43 Main Street, Hayesville, NC 28904
Phone: 828-389-8431
Fax: 828-389-9997