ASHEBORO — Plans to develop a county history museum were dealt a serious blow at the April 3 meeting of the Randolph County Commissioners.
Paxton Arthurs, county engineer, revealed to the board the results of bidding on renovations to the Historic 1909 Courthouse, which had been selected as the site of the proposed museum. Of the five general contractors bidding, the low bidder was 64 percent above the amount estimated for the project.
Arthurs explained that $2.5 million was the preliminary cost estimate for the renovations, including a new elevator tower, replacement of the HVAC system and improvements to the water-damaged basement. Those items were in addition to the cost of designing the museum on the first floor.
“Unfortunately, the low bidder, Sanford Contractors, was considerably higher than the preliminary cost estimate that had been previously presented,” Arthurs said. “We are working with Sanford Contractors to try to scale back the project and negotiate a better price.”
Sanford’s low bid was $4.465 million, nearly $2 million more than the cost estimate.
Arthurs presented the architect’s list of priorities for the project, with items such as the new heating and air-conditioning system, fixing the basement and installing a new elevator heading the list. The elevator is needed to upgrade the building to meet requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The figures for the priorities, when added up, leave little to no room for the museum design and construction, when compared to the original cost estimate. “The museum portion of the contract is below the (priority) line,” Arthurs said.
“(For) use of the bottom floor as museum, work could be done later,” he added.
Darrell Frye, commission chair, said, “(The museum) is what we envisioned. That’s what started the whole thing.”
“We’re trying to get better numbers and come back in May,” Arthurs said.
Commissioner Hope Haywood noted that Asheboro has been listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. “Is it possible there’s money out there … to help with the work?”
Ross Holt, director of Randolph County Public Libraries who has worked on the museum project, responded to Haywood: “It’s difficult to find capital grants. Museum grants are for collections. I’ll look for grants or legislative appropriations, but construction grants are hard to come by.”
“We’ll look to see what’s available,” Arthurs said. “This building was the most expensive (of county buildings to fulfill ADA requirements) because of the elevator.”
“So what prompted all of this — the museum — now we can’t get it unless we put down $5 million?” Frye said. “I suggest we table it, see what other options are.”
He mentioned a large room at the county’s Northgate Commons that could be used temporarily.
“If we don’t use (the historic courthouse), what happens to the building?” Haywood asked.
David Allen, vice chair, said, “I hate to lose a historic structure. If you can’t use it, what do we do with it? I hate not to utilize it.”
Arthurs responded, “The elevator is the main issue for using the building. We hope to come back with better numbers. We’ll keep working on it.”
Frye ended the conversation on the courthouse renovation, saying, “We’ll delay it, taking no action and bring it back next month.”
Commissioners passed a resolution authorizing the county to enter into an economic development incentive contract with a potential manufacturer.
The unnamed company, known by the code Project Spring, is considering Randolph County along with one other location for a new facility. According to Crystal Gettys of the Randolph County Economic Development Corporation, Project Spring is a Texas-based manufacturer that needs a second facility east of the Mississippi River.
The company plans to invest $3.4 million for machinery and equipment to create 106 jobs with an average annual wage of $43,353.
Gettys said Project Spring qualifies for a 50-percent cash grant over a five-year period in local incentives totaling $33,340. Their location decision is contingent on each state/community formally approving the incentives as well as the ability to secure an existing building, which could qualify for a state Building Reuse Grant with the county as the applicant.
Renovation of Archdale building
Awarded a contract for the design, bidding and construction administration of a new Northwest Human Services building in Archdale.
The former Duke Energy structure at 215 Balfour Drive was purchased by the county last August. The building is two stories with just under 16,000 square feet. Plans are for it to be used by the Department of Social Services and Public Health.
Smith Sinnett Architects did a feasibility study and conceptual design of the building and was awarded the contract.
After renovations, the building will have 44 offices for Social Services and five for Public Health, along with conference rooms, reception areas, public restrooms, workroom and a break room.
Smith Sinnett estimates the total cost of construct at $3,120,000. Design, furniture, technology and other owner’s costs are estimated at $321,000.
Design is expected to take two months with bids released in June. Construction should take 8-12 months.
The board voted 4-1 in favor of the contract, with Kenny Kidd casting the no vote.
Caraway Speedway upgrades
Commissioners approved an economic development incentive contract with Caraway Speedway.
Aimee Scotton, associate county attorney, explained that the state, in expending its Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Funds under the American Rescue Plan, created the Motorsports Relief Fund. The fund’s purpose is to enhance amenities and increase opportunities for events at motorsports venues, recognizing the impact those events have on tourism and hospitality.
The grant to Randolph County is $485,000. Approval of the contract means the county can enter into an economic development contract with Caraway, which will use the funds to replace aging seats and for repaving. In return, the speedway must agree to hold 20 events during the year.
Commissioners also …
— Accepted the low bid for renovations to the Public Health building in Asheboro. Garanco, Inc., was the low bidder at $2,351,500, or approximately $230,000 below the estimated cost.
— Authorized the exchange of property between the Randolph County School System and the City of Archdale. The school board had determined that 1.197 acres at Trindale Elementary School is no longer needed for school purposes. The board received an offer from the city to exchange that property for .675 acres, which was believed to be in the best interests of the school.
Before the transaction could be completed, the school board first had to offer the property to the Board of County Commissioners. Since the county did not exercise its option, the exchange with Archdale was authorized.
— Agreed to the reclassification of two positions in the Soil and Water Department. Because of two recent resignations, the department was looking at what job duties are most essential to the community.
As a result, the commissioners voted to reclassify the administrator position to environmental education and support coordinator and the environmental specialist to director.
— Voted to approve a budget amendment to allow for making monthly payments for the USDA loan for the Farm, Food and Family Education Center.
The $2 million loan, through Randolph Electric Membership Corporation, was originally assumed to be paid annually. But the USDA requires monthly payments back to REMC. That required the debt service for the months of May and June, totaling $66,667, to be added to the General Fund from Capital Reserves.
— Passed resolutions abolishing five fire districts and creating new districts without the 15-cent capped fire tax. The districts were Coleridge-Erect, Fairgrove, Julian, Northeast and Staley.
— Gave special recognition to three individuals. Lisa Walker retired as a payroll specialist in the Finance Department after 34 years. Kimberly Lane Scruggs retired as an adoption placement specialist at the Department of Social Services after 31 years. Col. Guy Troy, for many years a civic-minded citizen of the county, died two days after his 100th birthday.