Firearm usage in the town of Elkin was addressed during the January meeting of the Elkin Board of Commissioners in light of public requests for permission to use weapons.
Elkin Police Chief Monroe Wagoner brought an amended town ordinance which would allow the firing of firearms in specific, approved instances to the commissioners for consideration.
The ordinance, already in effect in the town limits, prohibits the discharging of firearms which are able to propel a projectile. In the proposed ordinance, exceptions to that rule would include an approved indoor firing range if it complies with federal, state and town laws; the firing of a weapon when it is not propelling a projectile such as during a funeral or military ceremony or during a special event that has been permitted by the town; discharging a firearm when “lawfully” defending a person’s self or property; and an officer firing a weapon while on the job.
The first two exceptions are new to the ordinance and come from the recent requests to the town.
Wagoner said he had been approached by those interested in developing an indoor firing range. The owners of Elk Outdoors were in attendance at the town board meeting.
Also, he said groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars and reenactment organizations had asked about dry-firing muskets and other firearms at funerals and during reenactments like the one planned in March on the Overmountain Victory Trail.
The commissioners took no issue with the changes, and voted unanimously to approve the updated ordinance to allow the exceptions.
In addition to allowing dry-firing at the reenactment scheduled for March 24 and 25, during the annual Gathering of the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, organizers of the Overmountain Victory Trail Revolutionary War Days event requested permission to have horses in a parade through downtown.
In 1986, town commissioners passed an ordinance prohibiting the riding or walking of horses on several downtown streets, including Main Street.
Joe Hicks and Taylor Osborne, with the OVTA group, explained that the Revolutionary War Days event will include a Saturday parade beginning at noon down Main Street, followed by a 2 p.m. reenactment of the Battle of Shallow Ford. The parade will include a small mounted cavalry of about five horses.
Other activities during the event will include a Saturday 7 p.m. colonial dance with refreshments for reenactors, MST members and Elkin town officials; Sunday 9 a.m. colonial church service; Sunday 2 p.m. tactical demonstration; as well as several history talks and demonstrations.
Organizers said people will clean up after the horses if needed.
The board unanimously voted to approve the request to permit horses.
Also during the January meeting, Town Manager John Holcomb highlighted the topics to be discussed at the Feb. 23-24 board retreat, including the Explore Elkin strategic plan, RV park, capital improvement plan, water sale plan, emergency raw water line plan and financial overview.
He also sought clarification of a requested topic at the retreat on hearing about the possibility of partnering with the YMCA.
The YMCA issue originally was brought up by Commissioner Skip Whitman, who was unable to attend the January meeting. Commissioner Jeff Eidson said he thought the request came up after hearing talk around town for a desire to have an indoor pool and a partnership with the YMCA as being a route to make that happen.
Holcomb and Recreation and Parks Director Adam McComb explained that a grant the town received in the 1970s through the Land and Water Conservation Fund in developing Elkin Municipal Park and the recreation center prohibits the town from moving ownership of the facility to the YMCA, because it must remain a public facility.
“As I understand it, it has to remain within the public’s ownership,” said McComb. “If it is transferred, we have to provide equal recreation somewhere else as park land. If the town wanted to turn the pool we have over now to private individual, we can’t do that; we can’t lease the pool, playground or tennis courts out. If we do that, we jeopardize that contract.”
Commissioner Tommy Wheeler said Whitman had mentioned to him a joint venture with Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital on the topic of an indoor pool, not taking over any of the town’s property.
Holcomb said he would work to get more details on that as the town moves forward.
In other business, the commissioners unanimously approved three reappointments to the Elkin Planning Board — Buddy Glover, Robert Ball Jr. and Jimmy Chappell.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.