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Commissioners bid against Virginia to keep Archdale upholstery manufacturer

ASHEBORO — Lancaster Custom Crafted Upholstery of Archdale is seeking to expand its operations and is considering two sites to build — one in Archdale and another in Virginia.

 

Kevin Franklin, president of the Randolph County Economic Development Corporation, presented Lancaster’s proposed incentive package to the Board of County Commissioners on July 11. 

 

The high-end upholstery manufacturer currently works out of an 18,000-square-foot facility in Archdale. Due to several years of double-digit sales growth, the 30-plus-year-old company has outgrown its building and is looking to construct a plant on an Archdale

 

Road site near Archdale Industrial Park. Lancaster officials also have their eyes on a location in Virginia.

 

With plans to invest more than $5 million in real property, machinery and equipment, the company expects to add 27 new jobs in addition to its current 25 workers over a period of five years. Average annual wage of those new jobs is said to be $46,000.

 

The incentive package, which was approved unanimously by the commissioners, is based on 60 percent of anticipated tax revenues over the five-year period, totaling up to $120,000. Because of the differing tax rates, Randolph County’s portion of the incentive would be up to $79,000 and Archdale’s would be up to $41,700, according to Franklin.

 

A public hearing was called by Commission Chair Darrell Frye. No comments were made and the commissioners then approved the measure, contingent upon the City of Archdale’s participation. The agreement is conditioned upon the company satisfying certain performance requirements.

 

In bringing the incentive proposal to the commissioenrs, Franklin had said, “The EDC believes that this is a good economic development project, promoting retention of jobs, reinforcing a legacy industry, supporting the creation of new high-quality jobs and generating new taxable investment in Archdale and Randolph County. Therefore, the EDC requests that Randolph County approve the above-stated incentive offer as an enticement for Lancaster to expand in Archdale and Randolph County.”

 

In other business, the commissioners:

 

•Doubled a request by Emergency Services to purchase two ambulances.

 

Donovan Davis, director of Emergency Services, had asked for four ambulances in the 2022-23 budget. But his request on July 11 was for just two. 

 

However, Frye asked Davis if the proposal was for four, which had been in the budget request. Will Massie, county finance officer, explained that he had determined that money from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) could be used to purchase two more ambulances.

 

Davis said he had not had the opportunity to talk to Massie before the meeting and didn’t know of the ARPA funds.

 

Emergency Services had bid for two 2022 Ford F-450 4X4 Trauma Hawks through the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s competitive bid process, which Davis said was “at least 10 percent cheaper.” The cost for the two vehicles was listed at $573,082 from Northwestern Emergency Vehicles of West Jefferson.

 

The commissioners voted to approve moving ARPA funds for the additional two ambulances and purchasing the four vehicles at a cost of $1,146,164.

 

•Agreed to a change order for the increase of $322,796 to the contract of Bordeaux Construction to continue the renovation and expansion of the Randolph County Detention Center.

 

John Wilcher of Bordeaux said the extra cost is due to changes required by state regulators.

 

•Approved a public hearing for two 0 percent interest loans from the US Department of Agriculture for the Farm, Food and Family Education Center, formerly known as the Agriculture Center. The public hearing will be held at the commissioners’ regular meeting on Aug. 1.

 

According to Massie, Randolph Electric Membership Corporation had applied for the two loans during the initial planning phase of the Agriculture Center. Both loans are for $2 million for a total of $4 million. Approval has been given to move forward with the proceeds for the Farm, Food and Family Center.

 

The loans are to be repaid by annual installments over a 10-year period. While there is no interest, there is a 1 percent administrative fee each year on the outstanding balance. Total repayment over 10 years will be $4,220,000.

 

The Local Government Commission also needs to sign off on the loans. It’s expected to do so at its Sept. 22 meeting. Closing of the loans could come soon after.

 

•Set public hearings for Sept. 6 to abolish and replace four more service districts related to fire protection and emergency services. The current service districts are capped at 15 cents per $100 of property value. The new districts have no caps.

 

The service districts to consider on Sept. 6 are East Side, Level Cross, Randleman-Sophia and Tabernacle. 

 

•Appropriated $185,000 to the Smith Sinnett Architecture contract to design, bid and administer construction for renovations to the Health Department. 

 

Smith Sinnett recently conducted a space needs study of the Health Department to find ways of making the space more efficient and customer-friendly for the future. Total cost of the project, including construction, is estimated at more than $2.3 million.

 

•Added $44,950 to the Hobbs Architects contract for designing the replacement heating and air-conditioning system for the Historic Courthouse Museum. The original contract was $198,000, moving the total contract for design, bidding and construction administration to $243,550.

 

•Received the annual tax settlement report from Debra Hill, tax administrator. She was then sworn in for another four years at her post and charged to collect taxes for the 2022-23 fiscal year.

 

Hill told the commissioners that the total tax collection rate for the 2021-22 year was 99.24 percent, which was better than last year’s 99.1 percent and the statewide collection rate of 98.3 percent.

 

•Accepted the Randolph County classification plan by Jill Williams, Human Resources director, and approved the reclassification of a Board of Elections position from part-time to full-time.

 

•Were advised by County Manager Hal Johnson that there will be a special meeting of the commissioners on July 25 to consider amendments to the Planning and Zoning Unified Development Ordinance. Also, the board will discuss Workforce Development issues.

•••

During the public comment period, three persons asked that the Confederate monument in front of the Historic Courthouse be moved.

 

Jane Ledwell-Gant told the commissioners that the Randolph County NAACP, which she represents, “has been respectful of you.” But, she said, that respect hasn’t always been returned. She said during debates at commissioners meetings that they allowed people with opposing views to slander those who want the statue moved.

 

When the commissioners finally voted, Ledwell-Gant said, they did so without discussion or giving their reasons to keep the statue. “We’re not asking you to destroy it, just to move it,” she said.

 

Referencing comments that the board said 90 percent of Randolph County residents were for keeping the monument, Ledwell-Gant asked, “Do you only support the 90 percent?”

 

Franklin Suggs told the board that those who support keeping the statue often say it’s because it represents “our Southern heritage.” Suggs said the monument “doesn’t paint the real picture of our Southern heritage … only those who fought for the Confederacy.” He listed other groups who have contributed to Southern heritage, including Native Americans, Quakers and slaves. “I implore the board to remove a symbol that represents just a portion of the Southern heritage.”

 

Kevin Price read to the commissioners from Luke 10:25-37, the parable of the Good Samaritan. “Who is my brother?” Jesus asked the legal scholar. “The one who had mercy,” was the response.

 

Price then asked the board, “How many of you would like to be treated like Black people today in America? Would you please stand?” When no one stood, Price said, “Just as I thought.”