The McDowell County Board of Commissioners gave their endorsement Monday for a building project by the Pleasant Gardens Volunteer Fire Department.
During the regular meeting for November, the commissioners heard a request from Anthony Killough, president of the fire department’s board, and Chief Neil Settlemyre. The Pleasant Gardens Fire Department is planning to undertake a building project. The department has purchased the property next to its fire station where a car wash is located. The goal is to expand the fire station, said Killough and Settlemyre.
In order to do this, the P.G. department is seeking a tax-exempt loan of $995,000 from First Bank. The application for this loan requires an endorsement or certification from the County Commission. The department will own and operate the station and it will be financed.
Commission Chairman David Walker pointed out that the P.G. Fire Department has a Class Five rating, which results in insurance savings for homeowners and business owners.
“We’re striving to be a No. 1,” said Killough.
After hearing from Killough and Settlemyre, the commissioners agreed to provide an endorsement for the P.G. Fire Department’s seeking of the loan.
In other business, the commissioners heard updates about the many building and facilities projects that are underway for McDowell County government.
The construction of the new buildings for McDowell Emergency Medical Services is fully underway. County officials recently held a ground-breaking ceremony for the new EMS headquarters, which will be south of Marion and closer to Interstate 40. The pouring of the foundation for the new EMS headquarters is about to start. The estimated date for completion is November of next year. The Station Four project is moving very quickly and is scheduled for completion in early 2021. This fourth EMS station will be on U.S. 221 North at the site of an old credit union.
The commissioners also heard an update from County Manager Ashley Wooten about the plans for the old Kirksey Funeral Home building at 69 N. Main St. in downtown Marion.
Architect Chuck Hamrick and his staff have measured all of the rooms in the former funeral home. Hamrick is preparing drawings and will then be able to design office spaces for the county staff now working in the Administration Annex in the lower level of the Senior Center. That includes the offices for human resources, finance, the clerk to the board and the county manager. When the renovations are complete, those offices will relocate to 69 N. Main St. The former funeral home chapel will become the new location for the County Commission meetings.
In addition, Director of Public Services Terry DePoyster is seeking bids for removing the two buildings on South Garden Street. This will allow for more parking around the County Administration Building. The property corners have been marked and utilities are being located.
County officials are working with various agencies now currently located on the second floor of the County Administration Building about finding new locations.
County officials also talked about the future of the National Guard Armory in Marion. This armory building at 102 Spaulding Road is scheduled to close within the next several years due to a state-initiated consolidation. The Marion facility, along with others, will then be transferred to Burke County, where a regional readiness center is planned for construction. Once that happens, the armory building here will revert back to the county for ownership.
“The National Guard staff have sent the blueprints for the facility, which should help our architect tremendously,” said Wooten.
Commissioner Lynn Greene said to the other commissioners they should consider using it for the Department of Social Services, once it reverts back to McDowell County.
County officials also talked about the latest developments about the Universal property.
The Dogwood Health Trust and the Gateway Wellness Foundation recently announced news about the workforce housing project which is planned for the north side of College Drive. The partners in this project plan to build 168 workforce housing units and they anticipate breaking ground in 2021
Gateway Wellness have been meeting with officials from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for preliminary work. Site studies and surveys will take place after Christmas.
Both Wooten and Chuck Abernathy, director of the McDowell Economic Development Association, submitted the application for Golden LEAF funding several weeks ago. The requested money would help with additional infrastructure to serve the property on the south side of College Drive.
“We should know in early December if the project will be selected,” said Wooten.
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