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Published: Friday, February 26, 2010 at 11:47 a.m.

Primary filing closes

A total of 32 candidates came through Huneycutt’s office over the past three weeks. Twenty-four were Republicans, eight Democrats, with 16 eyeing seats on the Davidson County Board of Commissioners, five running for sheriff and three entering the race for Davidson County Register of Deeds.

Incumbent Sam Watford, of 4111 Denton Road in Thomasville, was among many Republicans to file for Davidson County Board of Commissioners. Watford said if elected to a third term, he will continue to support businesses of all sizes and types in the county to help recoup some lost jobs.
“I’m an incumbent county commissioner, and I’ll campaign and serve just how I have in the past, on my business knowledge and civic service,” Watford said. “Others will hold those in office accountable. We’ll either stand on our accomplishment, or we’ll fall on our shortcomings.”

Watford said the county has traditionally offered incentives to manufacturers considering Davidson County for a new location. But the manufacturing jobs lost by the area are not returning, and new industry is becoming more rare. Incentives are not always enough to win over prospective businesses, and there is only so much the county can reasonably offer.
“We need to work on more commercial development and anything else to grow our tax base and keep our jobs,” Watford said. “I want to extend sewer to places, as long as we can afford it, for the chance to get some good commercial development. There’s no reason why the intersection of I-85 and Highway 64 can’t look just like the intersection at Concord Mills.”
Click here for complete article.

Published: Thursday, March 25, 2010 at 5:00 a.m.
Local candidates speak on issues
By Heather J. Smith
The Dispatch
Thursday night at the Davidson County Courthouse, the county Republican Convention was asked if felons should be able to run for the office of sheriff.
The party's answer was emphatic: No.
Party chairman Lance Barrett welcomed delegates, candidates and guests. After concluding most of the meeting's business, Barrett asked the crowd to turn its attention to a resolution supporting a bill introduced by state Sen. Stan Bingham, R-33, that would bar felons from running for the office of sheriff.
The resolution was passed with only a small group voting against.
Barrett then invited Republican candidates from all local contested races to speak briefly. The recent passage of health care reform and higher taxes were the focus of comments by national and state candidates, but economic woes were discussed by all local candidates.
Incumbent Davidson County Commissioner Sam Watford touched on projects he supported in the past, and promised the same dedication to the job in the future if re-elected.
"Local government cannot be all things to all people," Watford said. "Ours is a complex world and there are no simple fixes or simplistic solutions. But when the polls close, I will continue serving the Lord, my family and, if enough people have confidence in me, Davidson County."
Click here for complete article.

Published: Saturday, April 10, 2010
Economy, job creation highlights forum
Thomasville Times
This political season doesn’t favor incumbents.
With the economy still wavering and Davidson County unemployment at an all-time high, many constituents have begun clamoring for a changing of the guard.
But three incumbents of the Davidson County Board of Commissioners stood calm and confident at the commissioners’ forum — held Friday at Piedmont Crossing Retirement Community — to state their case for the coming primaries.
Political pundits are saying that this is an anti-incumbent year,” said Republican Sam Watford. “I don’t mind taking some of the blame for what’s wrong as long as I get some of the credit for what’s good. I’ve been exceptionally proud of being part of county government.”
What I see us having is more commercial development, especially around the major intersections,” Watford said. “Our manufacturing base is still here, but we’re going to have to diversify it. There’s no reason that we can’t have something like [shopping centers] around the major intersections.
Pullout – what they talked about at the forum
Sam Watford
• Building commercial centers at intersections
• Giving local businesses a year off on taxes if they buy something new
• Diversifying manufacturing
• Extending sewer lines to the intersection of Interstate-85 and Hwy 64
Click here for complete article.
Published: Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 10:20 a.m.
Commissioner candidate responses
The Dispatch

Eight candidates for Davidson County Board of Commissioner responded to a questionnaire about their opinions should they win a seat on the board. The following are the questions and responses in entirety.

Question 1. Please tell readers a little about yourself, particularly about any political experience. Some of you are incumbent commissioners, some have held seats on city councils, some served on various committees and others are brand new to this. Share any past experience that qualifies you for the job.
• Past President of the Thomasville Jaycees
• Past Master of the Thomasville Masonic Lodge
• Past President of the Chair City Shrine Club
• Past member of the Davidson County Planning and Zoning Board
• Serving 2nd term as a County Commissioner

Question 2. This is one question posed different ways for incumbents and their challengers.
To incumbents: A lot has happened in this county over the past year. What was the most important issue commissioners decided on during that year, what factors lead to your decision and how do you feel about the issue now the decision is made?
Watford:The approval of the budget ordinance is the single most important decision that we make annually and directly affects the lives of the citizens of Davidson County. The next most significant decision made this past year, in my opinion, was the purchase of the Davidson Academy property which I opposed. I didn’t object to the value or need but at a time when it is hard for the average citizen to spend two thousand dollars, I could not justify spending $2 million.

Question 3. The economy and high unemployment rates are this year’s biggest issues. The Davidson County Economic Development Commission actively recruits manufacturers to locate in Davidson County and works closely with the county, Lexington, Thomasville and Denton to negotiate incentive packages to reimburse a company a portion of its property tax bill if it chooses to move here. The Lexington Tourism Authority and the Davidson County Tourism Recreation Investment Partnership market the county’s attractions and activities to people living locally and out of state through publications and the Internet. Last year, commissioners pushed for and succeeded in creating economic incentive grants to small businesses in Davidson County expanding and adding jobs.
What can you, as a commissioner, do above and beyond these efforts to improve the economy in Davidson County?
Watford: More government involvement is not always the answer. We operate in a free enterprise, capitalistic, supply and demand economy and hopefully will remain just that. We will continue to make Davidson County as business friendly as possible through the zoning, permitting, and inspections processes, in addition to the tax rebate incentives.

Question 4. Besides the enduring issues of education, jobs and taxes, what are some of your goals during your time on the board of commissioners?
Watford: I am thankful that the Lord placed me in this place at this time. All I can ever hope to do is to try to leave it better for those He places here after me.
Click here for complete article.

Published: Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 10:15 p.m.
Incumbent commissioner candidates move on
By David Bodenheimer
The Dispatch
Three Republican incumbents pushed through the primary and will join five other candidates on the ballot in the November general election.
Incumbent Billy Joe Kepley received the most Republican votes with 8,183 for 15.8 percent in unofficial returns Tuesday night. He was followed by incumbent county board members Don Truell with 6,905 votes (13.33 percent) and Sam Watford with 6,773 votes (13.08 percent).
Watford, who said he ran on his record rather than campaigning heavily, said he hopes to be able to continue to work on improving Davidson County. Watford will be seeking his third term on the board.
“I just appreciate everyone's support that voted for me,” Watford said. “If elected this fall, I promise to work as hard as ever. I don't mind people criticizing what we do, and I'll take my share of the blame just as long as we (board) get our share of the credit.”
Click here for complete article.

Published: Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 11:47 p.m.

Candidates discuss economic incentives, jobs and tourism at forum

By David Bodenheimer
The Dispatch

Six of the eight candidates vying for a spot on the Davidson County Board of Commissioners attended a forum Tuesday night sponsored by the Lexington Young Leadership Forum and the Lexington Area Chamber of Commerce.

Candidates agreed and disagreed on most questions, but all six — incumbent Republicans Don Truell and Sam Watford and Billy Joe Kepley, and challengers Republican Todd Yates and Democrats Jeff Switzer and Jason Hedrick — agreed on their accessibility, giving the public a green light to call them at home to discuss their candidacy. Their response was prompted by an audience member’s question that was simply, “Can we call you at home?” All the candidates also said they would not raise taxes in the immediate future and would do everything feasible to keep the county tax rate at it’s current rate — 54 cents for every $100 in valued property — for as long as possible. On the heels of the recent TIMCO Aviation Services announcement — a company that has pledged to bring 500 jobs to the county — candidates were asked what they could do specifically to enhance and or improve efforts to attract and retain businesses in the county.

This is without a doubt the most important question in the county,” said Watford. “We’ve got to make county government as business-friendly as possible.”
Click here for complete article.

Published: Monday, October 18, 2010 at 11:43 p.m.

Candidates answers students' questions at NDHS forum
By Deneesha Edwards
The Dispatch
Candidates running for offices in the upcoming November election had the chance to respond to questions Monday evening asked by North Davidson High School students. Six of the eight candidates running for the four open seats on the commissioners board were in attendance. Incumbents Don Truell, Billy Joe Kepley and Sam Watford, all Republicans were joined by fellow GOP candidate Todd Yates and Democratic challengers Jason Hedrick and Jeff Switzer. Democratic candidates Ronald Swicegood and Kevin Williams were not in attendance. Questions proposed to commissioner candidates were about community problems relating to jobs, the unemployment rate and their thoughts on incentives to attract new businesses. Commissioners were also asked how they would encourage young people to return to the county after they graduate from college. Watford also thought there are plenty of opportunities for somebody to leave and return after getting a postsecondary education. “There's always something here for you to do,” he said.

Click here for complete article.

November 2010
Watford brings business experience to the table
by ERIN WILTGEN Thomasville Times
Watford, Republican incumbent from Thomasville, will compete for one of four spots for Davidson County Commissioner in the November election.
As an incumbent, I feel like we just kind of run on what we have done,” he said. “I try to serve my county to the best of my abilities. I try to bring a little common sense to the board, and a little business sense.”
Watford already has put that business sense to use. Though the board previously had a system in place to grant incentives to companies looking to invest $1 million or more in the county, Watford introduced a plan about a year go to widen that grant program to include smaller businesses.
I’m a small business man myself,” he said. “There’s no question about whether we are the backbone of the economy in this country.”
Watford’s plan changes the standards of incentive grants to include companies proposing less than a $1 million investment.
As far as government goes, that’s about all that we can do is be as business friendly as we can — all of our planning and permitting processes — and at the same time give our tax rebate grants,” Watford said. “It does give them a little bit of a boost.”
Recreation also is something Watford would like to work on. He says he would like to see more work done on the county’s parks and an increased number of walking trails.
We need some more recreation facilities in the county,” Watford said. “That’s something we’re short on.”
Click here for complete article.

Sam and Billy Joe Kepley on 2010 Primary election night.

Billy Joe was on top with 8,217 votes.
Don Truell was 2nd with 6,941 votes.
Sam was 3rd with 6,811 votes.


To check 2010 results click on the links below.

Link to Davidson County Board of Elections
2010 Primary Election Summary
2010 General Election Summary

Published: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 10:45 p.m.
Republicans sweep commissioner seats

By David Bodenheimer
The Dispatch
Republicans swept the race in Tuesday’s general election for four open seats on the Davidson County Board of Commissioners.
Incumbents Sam Watford, Billy Joe Kepley and Don Truell and newcomer Todd Yates were victorious, hardly being challenged by their Democratic counterparts, as each GOP candidate gathered at least 17.5 percent of the vote. Watford, Kepley, Yates and Truell beat out Democratic candidates Jeff Switzer, Kevin Williams, Ronald Swicegood and Jason Hedrick. Hedrick had the most votes on Democratic ticket with 9.4 percent of the vote.
Watford was elected to his third consecutive term as a commissioner with 17.6 percent of the vote (27,320 votes). A licensed contractor, he is owner of Watford Construction Co. Watford is a fourth-generation lifelong resident of Davidson County. Watford said he was appreciative of county voters allowing him to have another term on the board.
Thanks to everyone that supported me and continues to support me. I’m grateful,” Watford said. “I’m going to continue to serve to the best of my ability.”
Watford, too, expressed his appreciation of Walser’s service and that he was looking forward to working with new commissioner Yates. “Hopefully, we can all work together,” he said. “This is a good move tonight.” Watford added now that the election is over, he can breathe a sigh of relief and is looking forward to getting back to work.
It’s back to the business of the county and trying to improve the lives of everyone who lives here,” he said.
Click here for complete article.

November 2010

Republicans sweep election for county commissioners
by ERIN WILTGEN Thomasville Times
Davidson County certainly bled red Tuesday night as local election results rolled in favoring the Grand Old Party.
Though not a surprising turn of events that the four Republican candidates for County Commissioner won the four open spots, the margin of victory across the board of Republicans over Democrats was staggering.
It kind of went like all the posters said it was going to, didn’t it?” said incumbent Republican Sam Watford. “I was very pleased. I think the people have definitely spoken.”
Incumbent Billy Joe Kepley sat top of the pack with 18.04 percent of the votes. Newcomer Todd Yates came in second with 17.94 percent, and incumbents Don Truell and Watford took the last two open spots with 17.59 percent and 17.62 percent, respectively.
Watford says Yates will become an asset to the board, and the incumbent already seems impressed with the new member’s work ethic.
I look forward to working with Todd Yates,” Watford said. “He campaigned hard, and that helped us, too.”
Click here for complete article.

November 2010
Commissioners swear in for new term, elect chair and vice chair
by ERIN WILTGEN Thomasville Times
LEXINGTON — Davidson County Board of Commissioners officially kicked off its new regime Monday as it swore in its new members at an 8 a.m. ceremony.
Newcomer Todd Yates took his oath separately from incumbent winners Billy Joe Kepley, Sam Watford and Don Truell, who swore in as a group. Register of Deeds David Rickard also took his oath at the meeting. Commissioners then voted to appoint a chair and vice chair. Kepley and Watford were appointed for chair — Watford won narrowly with a 4-3 majority.
We thought Max [Walser, former chair,] had run off with the gavel,” Watford joked. “Thank you for your support.” Commissioners Larry Potts and Cathy Dunn were nominated for vice chair. Potts won, again by a close 4-3 vote.
Aside from economic development, Watford’s new title presents him with the challenges to become the board’s official spokesperson, stepping out into the limelight and representing the county. Such public appearances might be hard for him, not only because he works full-time during the day but also because it’s a role he’s not accustomed to filling.
That is a big part of this job, representing the county in the public eye,” Watford said. “Running the meetings is the easy part, I’ve done that before. Representing the county in the public eye, that’s the hard part.”

Click here for complete article     

Published: Friday, November 26, 2010 at 5:00 a.m.
Walser steps down from a life of public service
By David Bodenheimer
The Dispatch
The chairman of the Davidson County Board of Commissioners and former superintendent of Davidson County Schools hung up his public service cap Tuesday night with the adjournment of his last meeting on the county board.
His passion is respected by his fellow commissioners, regardless of their stance on the same issues.
He's honest and straightforward, you always knew where he stood,” said Watford, who came on the board the same time as Walser. “It surprised me when he said he was not going to serve another term. He definitely would have been elected, there would have been no question about that. It's been an honor to serve with him. He's definitely been an asset to the county and the board of commissioners. He's an educated man. I can't say anything negative about him.
Click here for complete article     Click here for meeting minutes

Watford elected commissioners' chairman

Potts to serve as vice chairman
Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch
Published: Monday, December 6, 2010 at 2:26 p.m.
Watford was voted chairman Monday morning in a special called meeting by his fellow board members, edging Billy Joe Kepley by a 4-3 vote. Watford was nominated by commissioner Larry Potts, who was elected to serve as vice chairman of the board.
Watford spent this past year as vice chairman, second in line to the recently retired Dr. Max Walser. Watford has been nominated for the position in the past, but this year's run as chairman will be his first.
Thank you for your support,” Watford said after the vote. Pulling from the 1970s' movie, “The Outlaw Josey Wales,” Watford added, “All I'll say is that I'll endeavor to persevere.”
Watford said the board will continue to focus heavily on economic development in the county.
The whole time I've served on the board it's been our No. 1 priority, and it will continue to be,” he said. “We're dominated by businessmen; we have five independent business people serving on the board. It gives us an edge on recruitment, to try and help business in this county survive and to bring in new business.”
Click here for complete article     Click here for meeting minutes

Published: Wednesday, December 15, 2010 at 4:57 p.m.
Commissioners table farmland protection plan
By David Bodenheimer
The Dispatch
A proposed Davidson County Farmland Protection Plan was widely criticized Tuesday night by the Davidson County Board of Commissioners, who then tabled the proposal for 90 days and advised the Davidson County Voluntary Agricultural District Board to reconvene with its stakeholders to develop a more focused plan.

Commissioners voted 4-3 to table the plan despite heavy support for it at a public forum Tuesday night. Around 40 people in favor of the plan attended the meeting, with several folks addressing the board, encouraging commissioners to pass the proposal. Commissioners Fred McClure, Todd Yates, Larry Potts and Sam Watford voted to table the plan. Commissioners Billy Joe Kepley, Don Truell and Cathy Dunn voted in favor.
Click here for complete article     Click here for meeting minutes

Published: Monday, December 20, 2010 at 10:40 p.m.
Council adjusts economic incentives package for Imaflex
By David Bodenheimer
The Dispatch
The Thomasville City Council, at the recommendation from Davidson County Economic Development Commission executive director Steve Googe, waived a clause in an economic incentives package that was granted to Imaflex Inc. nearly five years ago.

The company pledged $10 million to the city and to employ 60 people by 2010. Currently the company has invested $14 million but only employs 40 workers. Thanks to the coined Watford guidelines (from Davidson County Board of Commissioner Chairman Sam Watford) the EDC installed contracts that prior to the grant request, would allow businesses to waive wage and job requirements if the unemployment rate is in double digits during one of the past six months, and as a result the grant would be proportionately reduced relative to the employment percentage.
Click here for complete article

January 2011
State initiative to free money for small business
by ERIN WILTGEN Thomasville Times
North Carolina’s new Capital Access Program (CAP) hopes to address this issue and free about $800 million in capital for small businesses over the next two years. Operating as a loan loss reserve, CAP will allow banks and other qualified financial institutions to grant loans to businesses that otherwise may fall outside the normal underwriting standards.
It’s good to see some federal money come here,” said Davidson County Commission Chair Sam Watford. “It serves as a guarantee that banks won’t lose everything that they’ve got. They’ve got something to fall back on.”
And CAP intends to foster that natural relationship between businesses and banks. A small businessman himself, Watford says the program should greatly assist small companies, especially as the economy begins to pick up.
If the economy starts growing a little bit, that’s when you’re going to need the capital, is to buy new machinery and hire new people and grow as the economy grows,” said Watford, owner of Watford Construction Company. “I feel like we are entering into a growth period, and this should help. As a politician and as a leader of this county, anything that we can do to help our small businesses has to be good.
A main goal of the initiative is to create jobs and chip away at the high unemployment numbers across the county, the state and the nation.

Click here for complete article

Published: Tuesday, February 1, 2011 at 3:42 p.m.
Funding issues dominate commissioners’ legislative goals
By David Bodenheimer
The Dispatch
North Carolina counties and their governing commissioners voiced strong opposition to any shift of secondary road funding responsibilities to their level and also emphasized the need for the state to reinstate the lottery and average daily membership funding sources for new school construction.

DOT’s proposal of shifting responsibility was met with overwhelming contention, said Davidson County Board of Commissioners Chairman Sam Watford, who attended the conference. Watford said such a move in Davidson County would be a huge burden.

There is absolutely no way we could afford that,” he said. “You couldn’t even estimate it. Some people estimated as much as (increasing) 20 cents on the property tax rate in the counties. We don’t even want that to come up as an option.”

Other priorities were to ensure again sufficient funding for the mental health system, protect the local revenue base from any further incursions by the state and to authorize all counties to enact any revenue options — such as prepared meals taxes or hotel taxes — that have been granted to at least one county already.

Watford was pleased to hear support for lottery and ADM funding, as Davidson County is at the beginning stages of work on the new middle school in the northern end of the county. More than $250 million of lottery and state corporate income tax revenues for public school capital needs were diverted by the state in the past two years to help balance the budget. In 2009, Davidson County Schools had to return $818,029 to the state.

We plan on using the lottery funds to help us repay the debt on these new (school) buildings,” Watford said.

Overall, Watford said he was pleased with goals settled on by commissioners statewide. The conference concluded a months-long process that started in mid 2010, as more than 30 counties submitted over 200 goals for consideration. Proposals were reviewed by seven steering committees.

Mainly, our priority was to try and maintain the existing funding that we have and to not cut the state budget on the backs of the county commissioners,” he said.
Click here for complete article

Published: Monday, February 7, 2011 at 7:11 p.m.
Local officials defend state incentives, a GOP target
By Vikki Broughton Hodges
The Dispatch
A bill making its way through the General Assembly that would transfer some state economic development incentive funds to the general fund to help address a $3.7 billion budget shortfall next year is facing opposition from Gov. Bev Perdue and economic development officials.

Sam Watford, chairman of the Davidson County Board of Commissioners, said he and the other commissioners have been glad to have some state funds to supplement local incentives to bring economic development projects to fruition because he knows neighboring states are very competitive, and everyone is looking to create more jobs.

As county commissioners, we’ve been trying to attract all the businesses we can to Davidson County,” he said. “And there’s no question it’s going to have some negative impact, but we’ve got to cut something somewhere.”

Watford said he’s also concerned about cuts that will affect local schools, as well as mental health and social services.
Click here for complete article     

Published: Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 11:20 p.m.
Commissioners hear about budget shortfall, facility needs at retreat
By David Bodenheimer
The Dispatch
Heavy discussion, brainstorming and financial forecasting was undertaken by the Davidson County Board of Commissioners Thursday at their annual budget retreat workshop on Thursday.

As it prepares for a difficult fiscal year, commissioners got their first in-depth look at county finances, project needs, state budget issues and the future of economic development incentives. One agenda item was certain: Commissioners will address a projected $4 million county budget gap without raising the county property tax rate, currently at .54 cents per $100 valuation.

The huge loss in sales tax for the county won't be an easy fix moving forward either. The current point of sale portion of the sales tax — which keeps 1.5 cents of a 2-cent sales tax in the county where a taxable item is purchased — has exposed Davidson County's weak retail market.

IAccording to Googe, retailers focus heavily on an area's per-capita income and residences-per-square-mile demographic information.

“Our per capita income doesn't measure up,” Googe said. “We don't have the people per square mile that meet their requirements.”

Davidson County Board of Commissioner Chairman Sam Watford expressed the same concerns about Davidson County's issues in drawing retail.

Our per capita income has always been a problem in our county,” Watford said. “Until we get that up, we won't be very attractive.

Not much progress was made Thursday on a new jail complex. Commissioners have budgeted around $30 million to construct a new facility, but Davidson County Clerk of Court Brian Shipwash told the board those funds would not cover the cost.

“There needs to continue to be capital planning for a new courthouse/jail and sheriff's office and we only ask that be considered in the next five years,” Shipwash said. “I don't know how you're planning on debt funding but I do not think $30 million would cover the needs of both a combined sheriff's office and jail from figures we have received over the last two years.”

A potential site for the jail has yet to be identified. Discussions have been ongoing about whether to expand the current facility or to move the complex elsewhere.

Commissioners don't debate the need for new facilities but said estimates for a new middle school, high school and a jail complex could total close to $120 million.

Projections show the need for a 1.5-cent property tax increase in four years, according to Hanner, to pay for these needs.

Long range, those are most important things,” Watford said. “But we're just trying to take it year-by-year right now.”

Commissioners took no action on issues discussed. County staff will follow the board's instructions on moving forward and voting on issues during future meetings.

Click here for complete article        Click here for meeting minutes

Published: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 2:46 p.m.
Family, politicians recall Joe Hege’s contributions
By David Bodenheimer
The Dispatch
Joe H. Hege Jr.’s roots were deep in Davidson County. He was a public servant, private pilot, military veteran, avid church member and family man. Sharing stories about Hege’s influence is easy for those who knew him well and comforting for those who now miss him.

His daughter, Karen Watford, remembers his tenure of legislative service well.

“On Mondays he would drive down to Raleigh, and he would stay Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday,” Watford said, “and he would come home on Fridays. He did that for all those terms. That’s what he enjoyed. He was very interested in doing what he could on the state level to help his constituents.”

Watford is the wife of Davidson County Board of Commissioners’ Chairman Sam Watford. The couple has been married for 33 years. For Sam, those years created quite a relationship with his father-in-law.

We ate lunch together every Sunday for years,” Sam said. “Learned and talked all about politics and business and flying airplanes.

Watford, who is a private pilot himself, credited Hege for his interest in becoming a pilot. Watford said some of their Sunday lunches were followed by a few hours up in the air.

He liked to talk,” Watford joked. “He was a good man. You couldn’t help but learn from him. A lot of others would say the same thing.

Click here for complete article

Published: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 at 10:30 p.m.
Commissioners issue millions in bonds to pay for new school
By David Bodenheimer
The Dispatch
Funding for the new middle school in the northern end of Davidson County took another step Tuesday as the Davidson County Board of Commissioners approved county Finance Director Jane Kiker to sell $13 million in Qualified School Construction Bonds.

The QSCB bonds were made possible by the federal stimulus act of 2008.

It really helped. It was a good deal for us,” said board chairman Sam Watford.We got about all we could have to help finance this school. That’s what really moved this ahead.

The remaining funds to cover the $24.5 million price tag of the new miiddle school will come from the county’s general fund and N.C. Education Lottery revenues.

Click here for complete article    

Published: Thursday, April 7, 2011 at 4:22 p.m
Commissioners tour bridge construction sites;
sign off on TIMCO deal
Eric Abernethy/The Dispatch
.Commissioners' chairman Sam Watford, commissioners Fred McClure and Billy Joe Kepley, county manager Robert Hyatt, assistant county manager Zeb Hanner, county planning and zoning director Guy Cornman and Hanna Cockburn with the Piedmont Triad Council of Governments attended.

This is just something you don't get to see every day,” Watford said. “I'm extremely pleased with the progress and the quality of work with both projects. I've been on several large projects but not a bridge. It seems to be really well-managed.”

Before heading on the tour, commissioners approved economic incentives for TIMCO by a 5-2 vote. Kepley and Todd Yates voted against the contract.

The approval finalizes a deal that took more than six months to reach. Commissioners agreed in principal in September to approve $1 million toward the purchase of the Tyco plant, where TIMCO will operate. The Town of Wallburg has also pledged $500,000 as part of the deal. In return, TIMCO will pay $75,000 annually on its 20-year lease of the facility with the county receiving $50,000 yearly and Wallburg collecting the remaining $25,000.

Click here for complete article

April 2011
County amends abortion policy on employee health care plan
by Lisa Wall, Editor Thomasville Times
LEXINGTON — Davidson County Board of Commissioners voted 6-1 Tuesday to change the coverage of abortions in the county employees’ health care plan. Commissioner Fred McClure brought the item into discussion prior to the board approving terms and premiums of the 2011-12 health care plan. Commissioner Don Truell cast the dissenting vote.
“My only concern is that we get the wording right, so that we didn’t endanger anybody’s health,” Commission Chair Sam Watford said.

Click here for complete article      

Published: Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at 6:40 p.m.
Carolina Container celebrates new facility
THOMASVILLE | Carolina Container Co., a High Point-based manufacturer of corrugated packaging materials, celebrated its expansion in a newly renovated 170,000-square-foot plant on Unity Street in Thomasville on Wednesday.
Company and local government officials were hosted to a ribbon-cutting ceremony but the plant has actually been in operation since June 2010. The open house was also scheduled in part because the company has already exceeded its commitment to hire 20 workers, as well as invest $2 million in its plant and equipment, as part of an incentives package approved by the City of Thomasville and the Davidson County Board of Commissioners last year.
Local government officials said they were happy to have a longtime regional business expand into the county.“It’s nice to ride by here and see cars in the lot again,” said Thomasville Mayor Pro-Tem David Yemm.
“I’m extremely optimistic about our area,” said Commissioners Chairman Sam Watford, noting that diversification is the key to future prosperity.

Click here for complete article

Published: Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Renewable energy project receives high marks
Company, county officials celebrate success

Davidson Gas Producers, the local subsidiary of DTE Biomass Energy at the Davidson County Landfill, is delivering value and environmental benefits through carbon credits and renewable power generation, according to county and DTE officials.

“About 1,500 to 2,000 homes are powered by the energy produced here,” he said.
Those numbers are amazing,” said Davidson County Commissioners' Chairman Sam Watford. “I'm extremely impressed with this facility.”
DTE and Davidson County have a 20-year contract on the renewable energy project.

Click here for complete article

Published: Thursday, May 5, 2011
PART: We need local match to keep service
By David Bodenheimer, The Dispatch

Brent McKinney, executive director of the Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation, met with Davidson County commissioners Thursday morning in hopes of persuading them to consider additional funding sources and spoke to the benefits the busing service offers area residents as the financially troubled agency looks for ways to keep from folding.
We told you at the time we didn’t think you could justify building the lots and running the routes,” Watford told McKinney. “You said then (2008) that you had the fund balance, we’re going to pay for it, and the riders will come. The riders haven’t come. Looking back, in hindsight, wouldn’t y’all have been better off to stay and not expand to the rural counties? You would have lasted a whole lot longer. I see the thing going down completely in a few years, unless something drastic happens.”
Commissioners took no action on the information from McKinney, and Watford said the board would wait to see what the official proposal on any changes from the PART board would be before making any decision on additional funding

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Published: Tuesday, May 24, 2011

County rejects proposed permit for gatherings

By David Bodenheimer. The Dispatch

A new county zoning ordinance passed an initial amended reading Tuesday night, receiving approval from the Davidson County Board of Commissioners by a 4-3 vote
Commissioners Cathy Dunn, Fred McClure, Don Truell and board chairman Sam Watford supported the measure.
Commissioners Todd Yates, Larry Potts and Billy Joe Kepley voted against it.
By law, since the ordinance was not passed unanimously, it must pass a second reading which commissioners set for the next regularly scheduled meeting on June 14.

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Published: Thursday, June 2, 2011

McClure proposal would grant raises, reduce school fund balance
By David Bodenheimer,, The Dispatch

In an effort to give salary increases to county employees next year, Davidson County Commissioner Fred McClure pitched a proposal to his colleagues Thursday morning to appropriate money from Davidson County Schools’ fund balance.
McClure’s proposal would pull approximately $800,000 from the system’s fund balance to supply either a two percent raise for county employees or a one-time stimulus of $720 per employee. The county has 869 employees who would benefit from a raise, but commissioners themselves would be exempt from the pay increase if approved.
However, it does appear board chairman Sam Watford is not prepared to support McClure. After the meeting, Watford said he is leery of the salary increases mainly because the county is still not generating the revenue necessary to warrant such raises.
“I just can’t see it right now,” he said. “That’s my personal opinion. It may not be popular, but that’s how I feel.”

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Published: Friday, June 3, 2011

Keep hands off fund balance of school system
The Dispatch

Davidson County commissioners should follow the lead of chairman Sam Watford and reject a proposal by commissioner Fred McClure to raid the county school system’s fund balance for $800,000 to give raises to county employees. McClure presented this option to fund raises at the end of the commissioners’ informational meeting Thursday morning, and Watford’s initial reaction was now wasn’t the time for raises as the economy remains sluggish. But of even greater concern is the run on the Davidson County Schools’ fund balance, especially in light of potential cuts coming from the state Legislature

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Published: Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Davidson Water breaks ground for new water plant

 A groundbreaking ceremony took place Wednesday for Davidson Water's new water treatment plant, which is the second phase of a long-term expansion and improvement project aimed at securing the member-owned water supply cooperative's ability to meet future demand, improve water quality and comply with environmental regulations.
Davidson Water management and directors, project engineers and contractors, U.S. Reps. Howard Coble, R-Sixth, and Mel Watt, D-12th, Davidson County Commissioners Chairman Sam Watford as well as USDA Rural Development State Director Randy Gore donned hard hats and dug shovels in at the construction site on Koontz Road at the Yadkin River

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Published: Thursday, August 18, 2011

Implementation of Thomasville's 'EnVision 2020' begins

By Darrick Ignasiak, The Dispatch

THOMASVILLE | Lance Hammond, while impersonating Rocky Balboa, said he felt the energy from the community leaders gathered for the annual State of the City and County event at the Colonial Country Club on Thursday.

The event, sponsored by North State Communications and hosted by the Thomasville Area Chamber of Commerce, served multiple purposes. It allowed for the kickoff for the implementation of the chamber's EnVision 2020 plan, as well as the keynote addresses of Thomasville Mayor Joe Bennett and Davidson County Board of Commissioners' Chairman Sam Watford.

Prior to the announcement of the new committee, Watford updated the status of the state of the county. He listed the county's recent economic bright spots, including the recent additions of TIMCO Aerosystems in Wallburg and the Save-A-Lot distribution center in the Lexington Business Center.

"Both projects came with considerable up-front costs to the county, but they will be huge partners in our future," Watford said.

Watford also made comments on the recent controversy concerning the Davidson County Animal Shelter's use of a gas chamber to euthanize animals.

"I am extremely proud of the staff and their operation of the Davidson County Animal Shelter," he said. "I, along with all of my six colleagues, have witnessed firsthand both of the euthanizing processes that they use. We actually went over there, all seven of us. We are making an effort to move forward, with the cooperation of the sheriff's office, with lethal injections in a practical and economical matter."

Watford and Bennett, who presented the state of Thomasville, both made comments that new-home starts have decreased drastically in Thomasville and Davidson County in the last few years. Watford said residential construction is a large portion of the local economy and remains in a major slump. Bennett said the City of Thomasville had 103 new home starts in 2008, 56 in 2009, 41 in 2010 and 19 so far this year.

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Published: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 .

County narrowly OKs panel to explore spay/neuter policy
By David Bodenheimer, The Dispatch

In an effort to lower the population at the Davidson County Animal Shelter, the Davidson County Board of Commissioners narrowly approved a motion Tuesday night from Commissioner Fred McClure to reconvene a committee to explore the implementation of a county spay and neuter policy

.The board voted 4-3 to revisit the idea of such an ordinance for the first time since it was defeated in 2007. Commissioners Billy Joe Kepley, Larry Potts and Sam Watford all voted against the motion. Watford, Kepley and Potts cited concerns of enforcement and expense as reasons not to see a committee recalled on the matter

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Published: Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Guilford County Animal Shelter offers to help run Davidson County shelter

By David Bodenheimer, The Dispatch

An informal proposal between Davidson County and the Guilford County Animal Shelter that would allow Guilford staffers to run the Davidson County Animal Shelter has drawn mixed reviews from county leaders

As Davidson County commissioners and Sheriff David Grice continue to face pressure from the public to eliminate the county's use of the gas chamber to euthanize animals, commissioner Cathy Dunn introduced the partnership between Davidson and Guilford counties to her colleagues

.However, Watford and Grice both expressed concerns over relinquishing control of the county's animal shelter.

"They run a first-class facility over there," Watford said of Guilford County's shelter. "But I'd rather solve our problems ourselves." Watford said he is not opposed to considering aligning the shelter with a nonprofit organization in the future but is uncomfortable making any decision too quickly.

"I can't say I'm completely against the idea, but if you start spending more money at the shelter you have to come up with more tax dollars to fund it or more community dollars; both are in short supply," Watford said. "I don't like to do anything too fast. I'd like to study it a little bit more."

Grice raised questions over the management of the shelter and agreed with Watford that conversations over any major changes to the shelter need to slow down


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Published: Monday, August 29, 2011

Watford to serve as director for commissioners' association
The Dispatch

Davidson County Commissioners' Chairman Sam Watford was elected to a two-year term on the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners' Board of Directors during the NCACC's 104th Annual Conference, which was held Aug. 18-21 in Cabarrus County.

Watford will serve as the District 11 director, representing Alamance, Caswell, Davidson, Guilford, Randolph and Rockingham counties.


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Published: Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Commissioners squash committee exploring spay/neuter policy
By David Bodenheimer. The Dispatch
A committee to explore a possible spay/neuter ordinance in the county was crushed Tuesday night by the Davidson County Board of Commissioners.

The board voted 5-2 not to reconvene a committee that explored such an ordinance in 2006. Commissioners Billy Joe Kepley, Don Truell, Cathy Dunn, Larry Potts and board chairman Sam Watford all voted against allowing the committee to move forward.

McClure argued such an ordinance would be a step in the right direction, but his colleagues disagreed. Commissioners cited issues of enforcement and the fact the ordinance received overwhelming public opposition when it was discussed in 2006.

Watford suggested commissioners turn their attention back to the animal shelter and away from ordinances.

"We're back to the animal shelter and progressing on it," Watford said. "This (committee) was an offshoot of the animal shelter issue and we're going to stay at it. We're behind everyone else and the numbers are just sickening, nobody is arguing that."


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Published: Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mayor: State of the city is strong
By David Bodenheimer. The Dispatch
Lexington Area Chamber of Commerce President Burr Sullivan said he felt optimistic moving forward after hearing an update on Lexington and Davidson County's economic climate at the annual State of our Community event Wednesday morning sponsored by the chamber

Both Lexington Mayor John Walser and Davidson County Board of Commissioners' Chairman Sam Watford leveraged strong financials and economic development during their remarks at each level of government as a solid foundation continuing to drive Lexington and Davidson County. Though future challenges were acknowledged, Sullivan said the messages from the elected officials were relieving.

At the county level, Watford reiterated several points he made at Thomasville's version of the State of the City and County event in August.

Like Walser, Watford said the county's strong financial shape has helped with huge projects like the new middle school in the northern part of the county.

Watford said a 2010 audit of the county showed a fund balance of over $40 million.

Commissioners' recent approval of expanding sewer near the Interstate 85 and U.S. Highway 64 East interchange shows the county's commitment to encouraging future commercial and economic growth, he said.

"I'm optimistic," Watford said of the future. He exemplified TIMCO Aerosystems beginning their operations in Wallburg as being the type of future economic growth Davidson County needed.

"It came with considerable up-front costs, way beyond anything we've ever done before," he said. "But they'll be huge partners in our future."

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Wallburg Town Hall opens
by Staff Writer: Daniel Kennedy
Seven years after the town was incorporated, Wallburg held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday to commemorate the grand opening of a town hall building at the corner of Hwy. 109 and Franklin Drive.
“There were a ton of people who were influential in this,” said Wallburg Mayor Allen Todd. “We appreciate everyone coming out. It’s a new beginning for us.”
Allen spoke at length of the generous support from members of the community who helped in the town’s incorporation process in 2004. Inside the 11,500-square-foot facility, many of those local officials – including Davidson County Commissioner Chairman Sam Watford – were on hand for the 10 a.m. ceremony.

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Published: Thursday, November 3, 2011 .

Grant to retrofit county transporation with propane in limbo
By David Bodenheimer, The Dispatch

Davidson County could lose a $74,000 grant that would retrofit county transportation buses to run on both gasoline and propane if negotiations between the county and propane distributor Blossman Gas fall through

Concerning to commissioners was a required five-year contract with Blossman to purchase propane fuel solely from the business. The company also stamped a 55-cent charge on fuel sales as part of the deal.

Commissioners' board chairman Sam Watford said he hated to pass on grant opportunities but was concerned about a five-year fuel contract if the pricing index jumped.

"I could go for this thing today if you said that in 18 months' time or two years' time this would make money," he said. "I've seen propane (prices) go up and down over the years."

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Published: Thursday, November 17, 2011

Daylight shows views of storm damage
By Darrick Ignasiak, The Dispatch

A tornado that wreaked havoc Wednesday on the central Davidson area of Davidson County is to blame for two deaths, including a 3-year-old girl, and resulting in between $15 and $20 million in damage countywide.

Sam Watford, chairman of the Davidson County Board of Commissioners, declared a state of emergency for a large portion of central to eastern Davidson County on Thursday evening. It allows law enforcement agencies to “control movements of people in public places” and “restrict other activities or conditions the control of which may be reasonably necessary to maintain order and protect lives or property during the state of emergency.”

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Published: Friday, November 18, 2011 .

Weather service releases details on tornado

The Dispatch

The National Weather Service released its report on the tornado, saying it was an EF2 strength on the Fujita Tornado Rating Scale with estimated winds of 135 mph.

Sam Watford, chairman of the Davidson County Board of Commissioners, thanked all of the government agencies that have provided assistance the last few days. He said state emergency personnel came on the scene very quickly after the tornado touched down. He also commended the community for lending a hand during the clean-up process.

“All county personnel and first responders did a great job and are doing a great job,” he said. “When something like this affects our county, we have a lot of county departments involved. We're extremely proud of our people and how they're responding. It's always tragic when something like this happens. We have to do the best we can.”

Watford issued a state of emergency declaration late Thursday afternoon. County Manager Robert Hyatt and the commissioners held a conference call with the governor's staff Thursday afternoon to discuss how the state could assist with the cleanup and recovery.

Watford said the declaration was called to assist those affected by the tornado. The main purpose was to ensure Davidson County could receive monetary assistance from the state or federal level that might become available.

“The state of emergency is a pretty serious matter,” he said. “This gives us more access to those funds. We'll do all we can to help people.”


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Published: Tuesday, November 22, 2011.

County plans to purchase former Lexcom building


The Davidson County Board of Commissioners took a step toward planning for county growth as the board agreed to proceed with the purchase of the former Lexcom building on State Street and also approved several proposals related to economic development at its regular monthly meeting Tuesday night.

With little discussion, the board unanimously voted in favor of proceeding with the acquisition of what is known as the Lexington Telephone Co. building at 200 N. State Street in the central business district of Lexington and a nearly three-quarters of an acre tract across the street, currently used as a parking lot, for $400,000.


In other business, the board heard an update from Jeff Smith, director of Davidson County Emergency Services, about the damage caused by a tornado in the central Davidson area Nov. 16.

Smith said the county is still assessing damage but at this point 75 homes sustained damage and 27 have been declared destroyed, including eight mobile homes. He said all power has been restored to the area and all roads are clear, although they are congested with construction crews and "sightseers." He noted a Disaster Recovery Center has been set up at the Silver Valley Fire Department. Chairman Sam Watford praised Smith and all involved county employees for their response to the storm.


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Published: Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Save-A-Lot warehouse holds grand opening

Fast-growing discount grocery chain Save-A-Lot held a grand opening Wednesday for its new $24 million food distribution center in the Lexington Business Center attended by local government officials and business leaders, including Davidson County Economic Development Commission Chairman Tommy Hedrick, Davidson County Commissioners' Chairman Sam Watford and Lexington Mayor John Walser.

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Published: Thursday, December 1, 2011

Watford, Potts retain chairman, vice chairman positions

By David Bodenheimer, The Dispatch
Davidson County commissioners re-elected Sam Watford as board chairman for 2012 and also voted to keep board vice chairman Larry Potts in that role for another year.

The unanimous decisions came Thursday morning at the board's monthly informational meeting.
Watford, in the middle of his third term as a county commissioner, was the only nominee for board chairman. He will start the new year as chairman for the second consecutive year.
Watford said he appreciated the board's confidence in him to lead the group and added he is looking forward to another year at the helm.

"We've got a good bunch of people," he said of his fellow commissioners. "We all seem to get along pretty well, and that makes a big difference. We were pretty forward when we tried to work things out, and I'll continue to work at it."

Potts was elected to his fourth term as vice chairman. Like Watford, he, too, was the only nomination by commissioners for the seat.

"I think at this point we felt like the board was running smoothly," Potts said. "I'm fine with it, and if I hadn't been elected, I would have been fine with it. It doesn't change my vote or my effectiveness either way."

Potts is also a former eight-term chairman of the board and can easily fill in as chairman whenever needed, Watford said.


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Published: Monday, January 9, 2012

Jail, courthouse expansion talks to resume

By David Bodenheimer, The Dispatch

Public conversation on expanding the Davidson County Courthouse and jail has slowed over the past year and a half, though county officials say they haven't forgotten about the project.

With the jail population at a manageable level in the mid 200s, said Davidson County Sheriff David Grice, and with depressed funds, the project has essentially been put on hold.

"The way I see it, that will be the next major investment that we'll make in the county, there's no doubt about that," Sam Watford, chairman of the Davidson County Board of Commissioners, said about the expansion. "But with the way things are now, with us having the highest unemployment around and our property values not holding up like they should and our business as slow as it is, it's just not a good time."


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Published: Thursday, February 9, 2012 .

County officials hint at property tax increase

By David Bodenheimer, The Dispatch

A property tax increase isn't something the all-Republican Davidson County Board of Commissioners wants to pass. But the way county staff is talking, it may be inevitable.

Assistant Davidson County Manager Zeb Hanner told the board that the county's finances were fair at the board's annual retreat Thursday. But with several capital projects on the horizon, Hanner said the board should consider a 1 cent tax increase by the 2013-14 fiscal year.

Commissioner Chairman Sam Watford said raising taxes is something that no one wants to do but added that a small tax increase now may prevent larger such hikes years down the road.

"It's a real possibility," Watford said. "Every time you put it off, the larger it gets."

The county's current tax rate sits at 54 cents for every $100 in valuation. Hanner estimated that a 1 cent increase could raise about $1 million in revenue.

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Published: Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Incentives for frame manufacturer approved

By David Bodenheimer, The Dispatch

Carolina Frame Builders is one step closer to opening shop in Thomasville after the Davidson County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved an incentives package for the South Carolina manufacturing company.

In other news, the board narrowly passed a request for a qualifications bid that will allow the county to explore privatizing the landfill, which is currently operated by the county.

Private ownership would take that burden off the county. McClure said by submitting an RFQ, the county could get a better idea if such a move would be practical for the county and citizens.

However, not every commissioner was on board. Commissioners Billy Joe Kepley, Cathy Dunn and board chairman Sam Watford voted against the proposal. Kepley, who was most outspoken, said the landfill is a model for other state landfills and is operating smoothly.

"I don't want to tinker with the landfill," he said. "It's not broken, don't fix it."


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