Golden LEAF to

Published 2:37 pm Wednesday, August 6, 2008

By Staff
Washington County
has up to $2 million
in grants to expend
Staff Writer
PLYMOUTH — Washington County residents will be asked what should be done with up to $2 million that Golden LEAF is providing their county.
On July 9, Golden LEAF announced that Washington County would be receiving the money from its Community Assistance Initiative grant program.
As part of the initiative, representatives from Golden LEAF will conduct forums where the public will be given opportunities to present specific needs they want the county to address. The first is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 19 at Windows On the World in Roper.
To prepare for the forums, the Washington County Board of Commissioners, during its meeting Monday, discussed what it believes are the county’s most-urgent needs.
Washington County Manager David Peoples opened the discussion by providing the commissioners with background information on the initiative. Peoples then listed several county-wide problems he believes need to be addressed immediately.
After Peoples spoke, each commissioner voiced his opinions. Among the urgent needs mentioned by the commissioners were building a rural health center, paving dirt roads, building a higher-education center and improving recreation services.
Those needs were listed in writing at the encouragement of Peoples.
Peoples also suggested commissioners prioritize the needs, but the board decided that each need should be presented at the public forums.
Although the needs were not prioritized, board Chairman Billy Corey made it clear what he believes should be done to help meet the identified needs.
Corey noted that many of the needs discussed are included in the town’s 20-year economic-development plan, which was developed several years ago.
Corey has inquired with Golden LEAF about using the money to support the county’s development plan, but he said the foundation has yet to reply.
Because Golden LEAF is conducting the public forums, the commissioners must attend the meetings as private residents and not in their roles as commissioners. Peoples encouraged the commissioners to attend the first forum and voice their individual opinions.
Corey echoed that sentiment.
To make sure that its voice would be heard at the forum, the board voted to take Peoples up on his offer to present Golden LEAF with the commissioners’ ideas.
Golden LEAF was created in 1999 as a nonprofit corporation by court order in the consent decree resolving tobacco litigation started by the N.C. Department of Justice. It receives half of the funds coming to North Carolina as a result of the master settlement agreement. It makes grants to nonprofit and government agencies in efforts to improve the economic and social conditions of the state’s residents. Among its goals is receiving and distributing money for economic impact assistance.
LEAF stands for Long-Term Economic Advancement Foundation.