Group seeks LEAF funds

Published 1:22 am Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Supporters of an effort to create a community center and library in the former Bath High School building sought early support from the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners on Monday for their efforts to obtain funds from the Golden LEAF Foundation.

Jimmy Edwards, president of Bath High School Preservation, asked the commissioners to support an effort by the group to obtain $100,000 in Golden LEAF funds from a pot of grant money to be awarded to Beaufort County through Golden LEAF’s Community Assistance Initiative.

“This is exactly the type of investment that pays off,” Edwards said. “The investment will pay dividends to Beaufort County for years to come.”

Edwards was joined by some 25 Bath residents at the commissioners’ meeting for the presentation.

Although the commissioners generally agreed the project sounds like a good one, they did not endorse it. They urged other groups who wanted to vie for Golden LEAF grants not to appeal for commissioners’ support.

“We don’t need a rush of people coming to the commissioners,” said Commissioner Hood Richardson after hearing a presentation about the project.

Golden LEAF President Dan Gerlach, in an interview Tuesday morning, agreed.

Nonprofit organizations and governmental entities in Beaufort County will have the chance later this year to apply for a portion of $2 million in Golden LEAF grants set aside by the foundation for those counties, such as Beaufort County, that have been identified as economically distressed, also known as Tier I counties, Gerlach said.

The foundation will advertise and hold a series of meetings beginning in late September to give community members a chance to establish goals for the county that could be achieved with the help of Golden LEAF funds, he said.

After those goals have been set, groups will be able to apply for Community Assistance Initiative grants that will be awarded by the foundation’s directors in 2012, he said.

County and community-college leaders have indicated they will ask for some Community Assistance Initiative funds to help defray the costs of an Allied Health building under construction on the Beaufort County Community College campus, interim County Manager Jim Chrisman told the commissioners and the Bath group.

Bath High School Preservation was organized five years ago to save the school building, taking possession of the building last year. It has raised $338,000 and more than $30,000 in in-kind donations, Edwards said.

The group plans to apply for a Golden LEAF grant to restore the exterior of the former high school’s third wing, convert the ground floor of that wing into a 2,200-square-foot library and continue to convert the building into a community center, he said.

All commissioners attended the meeting.

Board handles other items

The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners approved several items on its agenda at its meeting Monday. In other action, the board:

  • Unanimously approved year-end budget amendments to the county’s 2010-2011 fiscal-year budget. The amendments included an increase in county savings as a result of increased tax collections and increases in solid-waste fees. The budget amendments also reflect savings in medical costs for the county’s jail and lower than expected maintenance costs, according to information presented to the commissioners.
  • Unanimously approved the purchase of two Ford trucks for the county’s water department included in the county’s 2011-2012 fiscal-year budget. The vehicles will replace a 2005 Ford used by meter-readers with a current mileage of 215,000 miles and a 2005 Ford with 297,000 miles used for water testing and treatment on the north side of the Pamlico River.
  • Voted 6-1 to appropriate $12,901 for a time-management system from Time Clock Plus to be used for documenting employee time and attendance in the county’s water department. Commissioner Ed Booth cast the sole dissenting vote. “I’m not in favor of spending $12,901 to babysit somebody,” Booth said. Interim County Manager Jim Chrisman said the system could be implemented in about 90 days. If the system is successful, it could be expanded to other county departments, the commissioners were told.
  • Voted 5-2 to approve $10,841.04 in travel requests, with Commissioners Hood Richardson and Stan Deatherage casting dissenting votes.
  • Voted unanimously to advertise for bids, known as “upset bids,” for property obtained by the county as a result of foreclosures. Christopher Banks has submitted offers of $5,000 and $100 for the property located at 382 Washington St. in Belhaven and 914 Respess St. in Washington, respectively.
  • Met with Travis Burke, district Cooperative Extension Service director for the Northeast District, who introduced Gaylon Ambrose, Beaufort County’s new Cooperative Extension Service director, and other new employees of the county’s Cooperative Extension Service.
  • Voted 5-2 to appoint Andrew Arnold and Shawn Harding as representatives to the Washington and Chocowinity Township Volunteer Agriculture Districts, respectively, with Richardson and Deatherage casting dissenting votes. The commissioners took no action on appointments to the Beaufort Regional Health System Board of Commissioners and the Local Emergency Planning Committee.
  • Appointed Commissioners Robert Cayton, Jay McRoy and Richardson to a committee to oversee the annual audit of county finances, but turned back by a vote of 5-2 a proposal by Richardson to create committees to oversee the Beaufort County Department of Social Services and the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office. Richardson and Deatherage cast votes in favor of the proposal.
  • Voted unanimously to approve the creation of the Warren Field Airport Fire Insurance District upon recommendation by the N.C. Department of Insurance.