The Transylvania Times -

At Margraf Interview


Art Margraf

Age: 73

Employment: self-employed, small business owner

Past elected offices or committees: one unsuccessful run for county commissioner in mid-90s

Education: high school

Family: Wife, Susan

Should you be elected, what would be your top three priorities as commissioner?

I would like to help small business. This is a very unfriendly county toward business. There used to be a sign where you come into the county that said 'Welcome to Transylvania County, Entrepreneur Friendly.' It's not there anymore.

Somebody didn't think they were friendly to businesses. I was told in order to sell something outside my business in the city that was considered a 'yard sale' or 'outside vending.'

Then all of a sudden the City of Brevard Planning Board said I could have a permit for $200 for 90 days.

Then on the 91st day I would have to close down for two days, then pay $200 more. It's just to get more money out of you.

Second, some people want to make the county wet. Sometimes people have to drive 20 miles to get a six-pack of beer. This would help the small mom-and-pop convenience stores and the few restaurants that are in the county, if they wanted to serve an alcoholic beverage.

Third, I'll do whatever the people want if it's within reason. I'll go along with the rest of the board.

What is your position on the proposed Ecusta Trail project? Do you support it? Why or why not?

Hendersonville called me about this. I think the railroad tracks should be kept. The tracks go by houses, and people will be walking and riding bikes just a stone's throw away.

Someone should let a train run back and forth between Brevard and Hendersonville. If it's not going to cost the county any money, go for it.

What is your position on land-use planning? Are you in favor of it? Why or why not?

It depends on what the purpose of it would be. If it would be a large impact or if it would disrupt people's lives in close proximity, if they object to it, then it should be taken into consideration.

The Transylvania County Independent Economic Development Task Force recently named, as part of their recommendations to commissioners, a list of targeted industries that include: small/medium manufacturing, destination health club/spas, camps, sports health & wellness, events/conferences, music recording industries and motion picture industries. Do you agree with this list of targeted industries? Are there other industries you feel the county should also be targeting? Specifically, what do you think are the best ways to bring those industries to the county?

One of the things when I was in Yancey County, I wanted to do something with the film industry when it came to the county.

The people were 'backwoodsy' and didn't want it at all.

They hated outsiders.

But here, if you bring the motion picture people to the county, it would have two impacts.

It would make it where people would come here to see the sights, where the movie was filmed, and it would bring jobs to county residents. I don't think there should be a lot of the same thing, and it's like Walmart coming into town.

They take away business from the small people. I don't think we need another fitness thing.

We've got two or three as it is. I don't think the county should sponsor it. I don't think government should get involved in people's lives.

The City of Brevard has various staff positions and resources that assist in managing and operating the city. Do you think the county should provide the Town of Rosman with additional staffing and/or funding to help acquire grants, manage the town, etc.?

Why can't they do it themselves? The county can help them in some way if the county can afford it. They should give them some financial aid. But let Rosman do it on their own, meaning let them come up with the things they want to do and do it the way they want to do it.

In 2013, commissioners voted to enact a 12-month moratorium on the proposed biomass plant in Penrose and recently voted to enact a 90-day moratorium on cell tower applications. When do you feel moratoriums are appropriate? When are they inappropriate? Do you feel moratoriums send a negative message to prospective investors or are a necessary tool of a commissioner's job, in certain circumstances, to protect the interests of the community?

The thing about cell towers, they've got their good points and bad. Everything today is so technology-wise. You take a cell tower, I don't know how much noise they make.

If you're going to have a cell tower, it shouldn't be near people's homes unless they don't care.

It's like people want them to be on top of ridges. It's going to be on top of a ridge to work. I'm not into this 'you spoil the view - you don't want to see a cell tower on top of a mountain top.' What difference does it make to me personally? But if people didn't want it, I would go along with the people.

According to what I read in the local paper, with a moratorium they have some good points to them and some bad. I would have to know more about it before I said whatever on it.

In the past, the county has had no long-term plans concerning water. In light of recent events (such as the state's attempt to takeover Asheville's public water system) should the county become involved with Brevard and Rosman to devise a countywide water plan?

Everybody likes to have clean water. It's like where I am. I'm on a spring, and my water is spring fed and it's not surface water.

Someone stuck a pipe in the ground, and I had it tested. It had coliform (but not E. coli).

The thing is if you had a water treatment plant, you wouldn't be able to go everywhere in the county.

It would be too expensive. And the thing is, everybody wants you to pay for it instead of the county paying for it.

I was told by Mayor Jimmy Harris if the city decides to put water lines in an area, they can annex that area. Some people that live there don't want to get annexed.

The thing is if it was easy for the county to do a water system, are they just going to supply the water, or are they going to do water and sewer. I think a septic tank is just as good as a sewer and is cheaper.

Do you think the county adequately funds Transylvania County Schools? Do you think Transylvania County Schools adequately informs commissioners as to how those county funds are spent?

I don't know. I've never been there. I know nothing about the schools. Only thing I know is the schools are not the same as when I went there - what they teach, the dress code of the student, the dress code of the teacher. When I went to high school, I went to school up North. We had a dress code and things were different there. Girls didn't wear slacks.

They wore dresses and skirts that went down to their knees. You weren't allowed to have an open neck. Boys had to wear socks and shoes, no sneakers. No jeans. The shirt had to be tucked in. You had to have 'ears and a neck,' meaning no ponytails. The teachers wore suits. You can't really expect to get respect from your students if you're going to dress like a student.


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