Blowing Rock Town Hall

Blowing Rock Town Hall is at 1036 Main St., Blowing Rock.

BLOWING ROCK — Commissioner Virginia Powell felt strongly enough about her dissenting vote in a special meeting of Blowing Rock’s board of commissioners on Sept. 7 that she resigned, effective Sept. 10, at the same time a new town policy on COVID-19 goes into effect.

The commissioners voted 3-2 during the meeting to give town employees three choices: (1) get vaccinated; (2) if not vaccinated, submit to weekly testing; or (3) be terminated from their employment by the town of Blowing Rock.

Although the town council deliberated on the “get vaccinated or else” mandate advanced by Commissioner Sue Sweeting for almost an hour, it didn’t take Powell more than about five seconds to announce her near immediate resignation.

The other dissenting vote on Sweeting’s motion was by Commissioner Albert Yount, who said he could not support what he felt was a Draconian measure, and that there had to be another way to achieve the desired result.

Sweeting argued that the town has a responsibility to protect all of its employees, including those who have been vaccinated from potential unvaccinated carriers of COVID-19, noting that even many vaccinated people have been victimized by the virus in the recent surge of infections and hospitalizations.

Powell argued that the “or else” component of the policy Sweeting proposed was unfair to longtime, loyal employees who stayed with the town, providing services to residents and businesses before vaccinations were even available. She suggested that it was an extreme measure that was unnecessary, as well as unfair in telling people they had to have “this foreign substance injected into their bodies or lose their jobs.”

It was not clear from testimony by town attorney Allen Moseley what the legal ramifications might be for the new policy. He said that it was uncharted territory and would probably require a court case before any kind of defining decision could be advanced.

Upon leaving the meeting, Pete Gherini, chairman of the Blowing Rock Planning Board, noted that three physicians were in the audience and all were supporting Sweeting’s position given what she stated was the danger in not taking action to help curb the pandemic.

After winning support from commissioners Doug Matheson and David Harwood to get Sweeting’s motion passed, the town council went into closed session at 6:03 p.m.

Recommended for you

(22) comments

BFrank

I have zero faith or trust in our government at any level. Those that get elected get a bit big for their britches and become insufferable. As for the "vaccine +s)", I don't trust the pharmacutical industry either. There is way too much money, politics, and trickery involved in this mess. Biden and Fauci are incompetent frauds. The the word "science" is thrown around by the two of them as if they have a clue what it is. The media in general is little more than an agenda and ideology tool for elite cranks. I won't have the vaccine.

guest154

I know its silly to expect folks to not play into stereotypes on any comment thread, but jeez y'all. Between the folks who mistake a public forum for their classroom, the folks who resent it, and the folks who carry around beliefs that actively make our small and complicated community less safe, you're all playing out the worst ideas each of you have of each other. The thing is its not your classroom so stop lecturing folks like it is--your class privilege and arrogance are hard to handle. Covid is also real and its killing our neighbors, families, and loved ones. And the thing about that is hard is that our neighbors and loved ones who are dying are the ones refusing the vaccine. And thats doubly hard on a lot of us. Not to mention that those very neighbors and family members make working and living in this town less safe--especially for those of us raising children here who are under two. You should all be ashamed of yourselves. You all know better. I'm tired of losing friends and family to this disease and I'm tired of folks playing out boring and dumb sterertypes. [sleeping]

Wynd

I hope the council-person will get vaccinated, and be a part of the solution instead of part of the problem. It's too bad she quit in anger instead of staying on to encourage others to do the right thing with the bigger voice she had, instead of the civilian voice she has now.

guest148

Government is the problem.

Branch

Governance is not automatically bad just by virtue of it being governance. It seems that a majority in this country are in favor of vaccine mandates. Plenty of privately owned businesses, regardless of political persuasion, have been enforcing similar mandates for months now. I mention this to reveal that there is a strong consensus on this issue: privately, publicly, democratically, and scientifically.

App_Mtn

It is criminal that doctors and legislators are pretending they have the right to force others to take this so-called vaccine. It is called malpractice and crimes against humanity. You fools who think allowing more government to tell you what to do will solve this issue or that are fooling themselves -- and it is obvious that the CDC and fauci are lying to Congress and the American People about this health situation. It seems that Blowing Rock has fallen into fascist hands just like the fake president is trying to do to the entire USA.

thechaosaysmuuuu

You didn't even read the article, did you? No one is getting forced to get vaccinated, the alternative to vaccination is to be tested each week.

Good grief your already loose grip on reality is slipping away further and further with each passing day. You should probably just stick to selling mattresses online..."

Hubris

It never ceases to amaze me that there are people like App_Mtn, so eager to see vast conspiracies involving thousands upon thousands of doctors, nurses, researchers, and public servants, as opposed to understanding they're just living in a tiny Facebook/Twitter echo chamber being spoon-fed lies and BS.

Don't get me wrong. Back in the day it was kind of cute. You had the kooky neighbor who thought we didn't land on the Moon and that fluoridated water was a communist plot. But now fools like this are doing real damage. Sandy Hook was a hoax... 911 was orchestrated by the government... Trump secretly won the election...

Make no mistake. App_Mtn and people like them are a big part of why we can't have nice things anymore.

guest113

Please explain why so many health care workers are vaccine hesitant. Maybe the media you read does not point out that fact. It is easy to blame the "spreadnecks" as opposed to the larger percentage of African-Americans who are not vaccinated. Please read various sources for info instead of regurgitating talking points from the left.

Branch

Why some healthcare workers are vaccine hesitant is complicated; we must remember that those who work in any given occupation are also members of the general public. As certain biases, concerns, and beliefs exist at large, they exist also amongst nurses, doctors, technicians, and aides.

The persuasiveness and intention of your statement seems to hinge on one ambiguous phrase: "so many health care workers." "So many" implies a large number, but is not an explicit percentage or raw number. I actually find the data to be comforting, personally. A September 9th article in The Guardian cites data from the ANA and AMA relating that 88% of nurses, and 96% of physicians are already vaccinated: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/sep/09/us-nurses-vaccinated-vaccine-hesitant. These are higher percentages of vaccination than in the general public, so it seems that being a healthcare worker is negatively correlated with vaccine hesitancy/refusal. In fact, it appears that the more rigorous the training and education a healthcare worker has received, the more likely they are to already be vaccinated.

African-American vaccine hesitancy seems to differ in important ways from the aforementioned group. There is a very real history of medical exploitation that has particularly affected Black Americans descended from slaves: https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/12/15/years-medical-abuse-make-black-americans-less-likely-trust-covid-vaccine/. Despite this, however, vaccine hesitancy amongst this demographic has been pragmatically dropping steadily since the vaccine's debut. One major stumbling block in the race to vaccinate POC in this country is--as is so often the case--lack of access. Many who want the vaccine are still finding it challenging to do so.

By contrast, there is a demographic whose resistance to the vaccine has hardly budged over the course of several months. The low vaccination rates of this group stem from ideology rather than access. White, Evangelical Republicans are the largest bloc of Americans who are totally and consistently refusing the vaccine: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/unvaccinated-america-in-5-charts/. If we look at the non-Hispanic white population as a diverse amalgam rather than a monolith, we can tease out with more specificity who is most steadfastly anti-vaccine. It is my opinion that a combination of extant ideological convictions and exposure to COVID disinformation campaigns is responsible for this level of resistance. An unvaccinated status has thus perversely become a political identifier and badge of honor, rather than an expression of good will and compassion towards ourselves and our neighbors.

I had never heard the term "spreadneck" before, and I consume a lot of leftist media and literature. A quick Google search brought up Rick Wilson's name as a figure pushing the use of this term on social media and elsewhere. Rick Wilson is, of course, an inflammatory never-Trump Republican and "former GOP strategist," whatever that means. He is definitely not an ideological leftist or friend of the left.

In summary:

1) Healthcare workers are more likely to be vaccinated than the general population, and less likely to express vaccine hesitancy.

2) African-American hesitancy does occur, but resistance of that demographic to the idea of vaccination is dropping daily. The number of vaccine resistant Black folks is less than that of white, Evangelical Republicans. Better access is needed.

3) If we tease out sub-groups within the non-Hispanic white population, we find that Evangelical Republicans make up the largest bloc of vaccine resistant Americans--both proportionally and in raw numbers--who refuse to take the vaccine, and are unwilling to change their minds on the matter.

Hubris

Thanks Branch, you expressed that far better than I ever could.

I do find it intersting that guest113 believes concern over the rampant spread of unfounded conspiracy theories and disinformation damaging our contry is a "talking point from the left." One would think it worth the consideration of all americans. On the other hand, given the current Republican leadership, I can see how such a position would be tantamount to treason.

thechaosaysmuuuu

Well said, Branch! Thank you for providing sources to back up your info, too.

thechaosaysmuuuu

Clearly Virginia Powell has no experience in healthcare, education, the military, or any number of countless agencies and jobs which require a multitude of vaccines, and have done so for decades. Or she does, but has chosen to make this a political issue rather than a public health issue.

Regardless: Buh-bye!

I'd love to hear Yount's "alternative" approaches to handling this situation. Weekly testing as an alternative to getting vaccinated is "draconian?" Hahahaha, good grief! Grow up and stop acting like spoiled children.

guest148

So much for uniting the country...our President states its now a war on the unvaccinated and that "his patience is wearing thin"...whats next the star of david on my house because someone in it is not vaccinated?

Draconian starts with simple things like this that seem to be ok. You have to tell government that they are not our parents.

The government on the left is tearing this country apart, one small town at a time. Pitting people against people.

I applaud this persons courage to resign and make this patriotic statement.

thechaosaysmuuuu

Did you seriously just compare being required to take a COVID-test as an alternative to getting vaccinated for keeping a publicly-held position the equivalent to being singled out as Jewish during the Nahtzee (WD won't allow the actual word for some weird, disturbing reason...) regime?

Do you not have any idea how insanely insulting, callous, and pathetically ignorant such a comparison is?

guest148

Excuse me but the President of the United States has just told us all its the unvaccinated that are THE issue of he day...talk about offending 80 + million people with threats of loosing your job...it starts out small and then its indeed the star of david on your house. The slippery slope. And we are sliding down it at a rapid pace. I will not comply. I will not cow-tow a show me your vaccine status card mentality....oh wait this is not what the town of blowing rock proposal is, its only get the vaccine or take a weekly test...whats wrong with that....EVERYTHING. Whats next sliding down the slippery slope....Biden has already fired his salvo on that one...how much sooner will the town of blowing rock bow down to his edicts....not laws.

I am not sorry if you feel insulted. Join the club.

Hubris

Really guest148? It's our patriotic duty to walk around unmasked and unvaccinated helping spread a virus that's already killed hundreds of thousands of Americans and brought our economy to it's knees? Really? Patriotic? I guess it's also my civic duty to smoke in restaurants and drive drunk. That'll show Biden!

thechaosaysmuuuu

Wow. Clearly you're not Jewish, are you? To make such a comparison as you have done is not only insulting, it's downright ignorant to an extremely (and what should be unbelievable!) degree. Find another to way to express your blatantly insane beliefs, don't attempt to bolster your "argument" by attempting to ignorantly compare your perceived "oppression" to those that were literally gassed to death solely based on their heritage.

Please, do just f-k right off with that nonsense you spoiled, pathetic little child.

guest113

The name calling is really rallies folks to you point of view, Moo. Are you a middle schooler? Just asking...

thechaosaysmuuuu

@guest113

I'm not here to make friends, nor am I here to convince anyone of anything. What I do find odd, however, is your obsession with me and my posts and your constant fixation on "name calling" rather than looking at the substance of a given post. Frankly, I don't have time (nor do I care) to "play nice" when someone is literally equating a testing mandate in the midst of a global pandemic to the treatment of Jewish folks by fascist regimes. If you had family hauled off to the gas chambers (and I honestly, sincerely hope that you did not, no one deserves that), but if you did, you might appreciate that view...

Please do forgive me if I don't care one way or another if my calling a spade a spade "offends" you.

guest113

Excellent post, Branch. You put a lot of thought into your response and researched the topic. I appreciate your response. Your sources are The Guardian, The Washington Post and 538, all liberal media. Do you also read and consider contrary points of view? Again, thanks for the excellent post!

Branch

Hi g113, I agree that my sources are all "left skewed" media. I do not have a problem per se with media bias--after all, we are all human, and all come with our own imperfect histories, anecdotes, and lived experiences--and I have the same confidence in reporting in equally "right skewed" media such as the Wall Street Journal and Fox Business as I do in WaPo or The Guardian--even if I disagree with their focus and editorialization, which is inherent in all journalistic reporting.

As someone--in my teenage years, by which I'm dating myself--whose political awakening was catalyzed by my perceived manufactured consent to invade Afghanistan and Iraq by ostensibly left-wing (and other) media, I like to think that I have a healthy skepticism regarding corporate news. I also like to think that I am capable of discerning opinion and overwrought editorializing from straight news and objective truth--in the sense that the latter is epistemologically possible.

In short: I am a natural-born skeptic who knowingly leans left and is not ashamed of my own media diet, but am hopefully aware of its biases.

I read Fox News' national headlines a few times per week, but this is admittedly a form of oppositional research. I trust AP, CNN, WSJ, Forbes, etc. to bring me the adulterated "truth" as filtered through their necessarily profitable channels. I would also note that, as a moral relativist myself, a primary goal of journalism is to attempt to separate objective truth from other narratives, and therefore make a concrete judgment utilizing their novel research. Therefore, a journalist who separates the metaphorical wheat from the chaff, is a journalist who is merely doing their job. At the best of times at least.

If you have sources that have approached the previous subject in question with nuance and detail, I would enjoy reading them. As Ben Burgis says: "give them an argument."

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.