Golden LEAF awards Aurora with grant for new generators

Published 6:52 pm Friday, June 5, 2020

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AURORA — The town of Aurora’s hurricane preparedness takes another step forward, as the Golden LEAF Foundation awarded the town with a $62,000 grant for back-up generators in critical facilities throughout the town.

Golden LEAF was established in 1999 to assist tobacco-dependent areas that need funding to grow job opportunities.

The foundation has had a hand in creating 63,053 jobs, $624 million in new payroll and trained more than 68,000 workers for good-paying jobs, according to the Golden LEAF website.

Golden LEAF partners with the state and local governments and other foundations to build economic opportunity, including bridging the urban-rural communities.

“So, these are basically funds that come through the general assembly,” said North Carolina Rep. Keith Kidwell, who represents Beaufort County. “It was set up years ago to help communities as part of the loss of revenue from tobacco being cut back significantly. People make applications for grants, look at needs and many times they’ll contact people at the General Assembly and find out what the deal is on these things, or we’ll call them up about a particular need. That’s what I did with Aurora.”

About 18 months ago, Aurora lost power throughout the entire town during Hurricane Florence, leading to the sewer plant backing up and nearly spilling over, because it couldn’t pump any longer, according to Kidwell.

“I spent about eight hours on the phone over a couple of days with Duke Power trying to get trucks out there to get that prepared with the mayor, the vice president at Duke Power, and what it boils down to, is the town of Aurora simply didn’t have the money to put in generators on their sewage system,” Kidwell said. “So, I talked to the mayor of Aurora, Clif Williams, to try and get some ideas. So, I said, ‘Let’s try Golden LEAF.’ We contacted them, found out the steps to get (the application) in there, and now it’s been approved. Hopefully, we can get these generators set up before we have another hurricane. That would just follow up a natural disaster with an ecological disaster. We don’t want that.”

Golden LEAF has helped the town of Aurora on previous occasions, including a $200,000 grant toward a proposed industrial park last year.

The recent grant for back-up generators will immensely help the town of Aurora, especially in the case of a natural disaster, according to Kidwell.