Officials to rehash Golden LEAF money

First Posted: 2/18/2009

DOBSON Local officials will meet today to go over their proposal to the Golden LEAF Foundation after a meeting on Monday in which they were told to go home to figure out exactly how they want to spend $2 million.
Officials with Surry County, Pilot Mountain, Dobson, Mount Airy, Elkin and Surry Community College drove more than three-and-a-half hours to Rocky Mount Monday for a one-hour meeting with members of the Golden LEAF Foundations board.
Seven projects ranging from education to water and sewer line extensions were sent to the Golden LEAF Foundation for consideration for up to $2 million in grant funding. A series of public meetings have been held during the past several months to narrow the projects to the list of seven. Those seven came from a larger list of 17 projects developed in recent months by a local Golden LEAF committee made up of people who had attended at least three of the five meetings.
The top five projects presented Monday by the contingency of leaders from Surry County included:
1. Surry Community College Center for Learning, Education and Retraining at a cost of $225,000.
2. Town of Pilot Mountain, in partnership with the town of Elkin Pilot Mountain Entrepreneurial Center (Amos and Smith building) and town of Elkin Workforce Training Facility at cost of $400,000.
3. Mount Airy Interstates Sewer Force Main to Mount Airy at a cost of $86,000.
4. Surry County Water/Sewer Line Elkin/Fibrowatt at a cost of $200,000.
5. City of Mount Airy #2 Interstates Sewer Force to Main to Mount Airy, Request for Full Project Cost at a cost of $1,675,000.
Patricia Cabe, vice president of programs/community assistance and outreach, said the group from Surry County was very well received.
There was some good discussion back and forth. Our board heard their proposal. This is just an opportunity for them to hear from them face to face and learn more. It was just a good meeting, Cabe said Wednesday afternoon.
Don Brookshire, city manager for the city of Mount Airy, agreed that the presentations were well done.
There were some surprises, but they will be worked out, Brookshire said. There were some things that we were not aware of.
Brookshire said he didnt see getting the money from the Golden LEAF board as an issue.
There are some budgetary adjustments that have to be done, and our overall cost was a little more than we had anticipated. It will get adjusted, Brookshire said.
Pilot Mountain Mayor Earl Sheppard went to Rocky Mount with the group on Monday.
Then they looked at us and said you have presented projects that are worth almost $4 million. You need to go home and come up with $2 million worth of projects and send it in by Friday. It really caught us off guard, Sheppard said.
He said the group was under the assumption that the Golden LEAF Foundation would decide how much money to give to each project on Surry Countys list.
I asked everybody I thought we just had to present the top five projects. When we went back and put the price on those projects, it was a little bit more than what we thought. We have to trim out what we dont need and go right down the line.
Although Sheppard was surprised at the meeting with the Golden LEAF Foundation board, he said he is not worried about getting the $2 million to come to Surry County.
Were going to get some money. Its there, and we are a Tier One county. I came away with a good feeling. I wish we would have known to be exactly at $2 million. I never dreamed I would put this kind of time into this project. The money is there, and they are going to write the check on March the 5th. The money will be doled out that day, so we have to get this back in by Friday, Sheppard said.
As far as todays meeting goes, Sheppard thought it might be hard to whittle the amount down to $2 million from $4 million, but he said he knows it can be done.
We have all worked pretty well together in the past, its just going to take some reasoning and understanding, explained Sheppard.
Surry County Commissioner Paul Johnson said he is already working on some figures for todays meeting.
We were a little bit misguided during the process. They were pleased with all they heard. I have already done some preliminary work on these projects. I think we will have a very short meeting. Then we will e-mail and fax it to them by Friday. We should get what we are asking for, Johnson said.
Lestine Hutchens, mayor of Elkin, said Monday was her first trip to a grant presentation.
We may have been taken aback a little bit, but it was a new experience for me from the very beginning. The prospect of our projects getting funded is a very exciting experience, Hutchens said.
She is pushing for a project that would bring learning from Surry Community College to Elkin.
Were hoping for classrooms that will allow students to learn computers skills, get their GEDs (General Education Diplomas) and learn ESL (English as a Second Language), and we are looking to get a work room for the Yadkin Valley Guild, Hutchens explained.
She said the guild is a 17-county craft group that is housed in Elkin. The crafters are selling their wares in a retail shop on Main Street. She said they have an apprentice program in which young people can learn a new craft.
This would enable them to have another training or teaching area. Weve got so many people who are unemployed. They need a different skill set to be able to find jobs than they had before. Sometimes people who have been in the workforce for a while feel intimidated by the college scene and being around a lot of young people. The small facility in Elkin would be less intimidating for them. Surry Community College is also out of space, so this would save gas and bring the classroom closer to the people who need it, Hutchens said Wednesday afternoon.
The group will meet today at Surry Community College in the J building at 3:30 p.m. to decide which projects to submit back to the Golden LEAF Foundation.
Contact Mondee Tilley at [email protected] or at 719-1930.

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