Newspaper Response

Newspaper Response

Name: Beth Heile

Age: 54

Profession: Vice-President, NoteWorthy Software, Inc.

Education: East Burke High School, 1986; NC State University, 1991 Bachelor of Science Electrical Engineering

Family: Married to Eric for 27 years, son Zakk

Community Involvement: Currently serving as – First United Methodist Church member, NC Parks and Recreation Authority member, Friends of the Valdese Rec Founder and President, Burke County Planning Board member, Burke Women’s Fund Steering Committee, Draughn High School Band Booster President, Friends of Fonta Flora State Trail President, Rotary Club of Valdese Membership Chair, Duke Habitat Enhancement Program Lakes Advisory Committee, NC Great Trails State Coalition Executive Committee, Valdese Recreation Commission member, DHS Leadership Team, Burke River Trail Association President

  1. Have you ever been convicted of a felony? No
  2. Do you currently owe back property taxes? No
  3. How do you believe commissioners should address facility inadequacies for the health department and social services?

I attended a county commissioner budget planning retreat where Danny Scalise, director of the Burke County Health Department, discussed the condition of the building on Parker Road. The description did not sound like a pleasant environment for employees or clients. I toured the building for myself and found it to be a drab, windowless maze. The 1979 facility is depressing and in poor condition, though very clean. How can nurses and case workers provide outstanding service while surrounded by bleak conditions? How can those seeking services feel respected when entering a dingy reception area and then being led to cramped offices for assistance? How can the departments recruit top-notch employees? Joshua Bennett, VP of Mosley Architects presented a comprehensive analysis of all Burke County facilities to the commissioners – building conditions, the building capacities, where departments could be moved, combined, or left alone in the coming years. With only 9 acres of the 27-acre parcel being used, the possibility exists for a new building on-site for both departments. However, looking deeper into the facility study to see the big picture will help determine if relocation, rebuilding or remodeling is the right solution for the health department and social services.

  1. What are your feelings on commissioners creating a long-term regional drug rehabilitation facility?

Substance misuse is a huge concern in our area. Almost everyone I have spoken with has a friend or loved one who has had a struggle with or is currently struggling with addiction that may have started from an accident, surgery, self-medicating or just experimenting. Data from the NCDHHS shows from February 2021 to January 2022, Burke County was in the top ten counties across the state with a high opioid overdose emergency department visit rate with 172.4 visits. This is just one way drug misuse creates a strain on our facilities, families, and front-line workers. From information discussed at commissioner meetings and articles in the paper, the regional facility seems like a productive addition to our county’s services. The state budget included $3.25M to renovate the old jail for the rehabilitation facility. In addition, the county will receive $13M over 18 years as part of a national lawsuit against opioid distributors to use to address the opioid crisis. This financial backing is key in developing a progressive center where clients can stay as long as needed for treatment while receiving job training. Both will contribute to participants’ success upon leaving and hopefully will stop the cycle of financial strain and hardship on our system and on loved ones.

  1. There has been controversy over the placement of the Confederate statue on the Old Burke County Courthouse square and a call to create a committee to discuss/address its location. What decisions would you like to see the board of commissioners make on the statue/committee?

The monument for Burke County’s Confederate Army troops was erected in 1911 using funds contributed by Burke County, Burke County Sons of Confederate Veterans, and former Burke County soldier Captain W. J. Kincaid of Griffin, GA. The four engraved marble slabs containing the names of the soldiers from Burke County who died in the Civil War represent an era of Burke County’s history. Most everyone knows that state law prohibits the removal of an “object of remembrance” and, thus, Confederate statues can only be taken down under certain circumstances. However, state law does not prevent community dialogue. I agree with citizens that it is time to move forward on this issue instead of continually presenting conflicting perspectives as I have witnessed at many county commissioner meetings. While several high-profile, illegal statue removals have taken place in North Carolina since 2020, I believe that Burke County is a tight-knit community, and I would be in favor of facilitating dialogue with experts on Confederate monumentation to see what options would benefit all citizens of Burke County.

  1. What priorities do you think the board should set to live up to its “All About Advancing” slogan?

My goal is for people to Live, Work, Play and Stay in Burke County. However, for me, the STAY is not about tourism. For me, the STAY is for families staying and thriving in Burke County generation after generation. It is important while families Stay that they be an integral part of the community, earning well more than a living wage, participating, taking advantage of the opportunities available, giving back, being as proud to be a Burke County citizen as I am. When we invest in something, we want it to be successful. We will do our part to make it better, whether it be picking up a piece of trash, rehabbing an old warehouse or running for office. To get to the Stay, priorities should be more affordable and market rate housing (the Live), more high-end jobs and workforce development (the Work) and taking advantage of our natural resources for incredible quality of life (the Play). Putting residents first by addressing their needs and wants, we will have the Stay and be a Better Burke. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about schools! I include that under Work, because when you are in school (as a kid or as an adult – that is a job). Supporting BCPS, WPCC and companies implementing apprentice and training programs is critical for a prosperous community. With all the above goals, the top priority is for the board to continue to be good stewards of taxpayer money to keep the county financially stable.

  1. What makes you qualified to become a commissioner?

Trained as an electrical engineer, I will take a logical, fair approach to strategic decisions to keep Burke County Advancing. Over my years of volunteer service, I have proven I can be trusted to get things done.

The best example of my vision and commitment to a project is Valdese Lakeside Park. Seven years ago, I founded Friends of the Valdese Rec, Inc, an all-volunteer non-profit to help the Town of Valdese acquire 300 acres on Lake Rhodhiss for a park. I faced many obstacles along the way but never gave up. I dug trail, sought funding, followed up on opportunities, presented at the Governor’s Mansion, and worked tirelessly to succeed because I knew what this park would do for Valdese and the county. The $2.3M funding for the land acquisition and phase one construction came from grants and community donations. I have managed over 2300 volunteer hours since the land was acquired in 2018. I have leveraged partnerships (government and business) for big results. The park is now open with 175 daily visitors and there is more to come. I will bring this same zeal and dedication while serving as your county commissioner.

I am passionate about Burke County and the people who live here. I believe we all deserve the best quality of life possible and want to continue to make a difference in my community by serving as a Burke County commissioner. For more about me, visit BetterBurke.com. I will be “highly” effective.

From The News Herald

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