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The Worthville Dam and its beach-like escape for locals will be accessible on the Deep River Rail Trail. (Ray Criscoe / Randolph Hub)

County divvies up its strategic funds

ASHEBORO — Strategic planning funds totaling $371,315 were appropriated by the Randolph County Board of Commissioners at their March 7 meeting.

The money comes from both state and local funds and will go to projects consistent with the goals and strategies identified by the 2016 Randolph County Strategic Planning process.

Of the funding, $100,000 will go to projects requested by NC Sen. Dave Craven with funding provided by the state. 

The other $271,315 will come from the county’s Health & Wellbeing Reserve, which is funded by Waste Management’s annual lease distribution from Great Oak Landfill.

County Manager Hal Johnson reminded the commissioners that “the 2016 Randolph County Strategic Planning process was a countywide effort to identify long-term strategic issues impacting Randolph County’s public health, safety and well-being.”

The list of initiatives is lengthy and ongoing.

The board approved the following projects funded by the $100,000 from the state: 

— RhinoLeap Productions, $12,500.

— Seagrove Area Potters Association, $25,000.

— VOB Initiative for Change, $2,500.

— Uwharrie Youth Sportsman Association, $20,000.

— SerCo of Archdale/Trinity, $20,000.

— NC Aviation Museum, $20,000.

The county’s Strategic Planning funds will go to the following:

— City of Archdale, $75,000 for the Aldridge Ballfield.

— Randolph County Soil & Water, $40,000 for a mobile classroom.

— Keaton’s Place, $156,315 for a vehicle to transport clients.

Two other projects being appropriated funds were the Town of Seagrove Historic Luck’s Cannery and the Deep River Trail. 

The Historic Luck’s Cannery will receive $500,000 to help with developing the former bean plant into an event center and museum. 

The Deep River Trail, which needs a bridge across Sandy Creek to connect the Ramseur and Franklinville portions, will be funded $1 million, with $100,000 for professional fees and $90,000 for construction.

Though neither project is on the Strategic Planning list, both are consistent with the goals and strategies.

ARPA funds approved

In other business, the board appropriated funds from the federal American Recovery Plan and the Coronavirus Recovery (ARPA) Grant. The money distributed includes $219,000 for food insecurity, $265,050 for digital literacy and $400,000 to rehire personnel with the Randolph County Tourism Development Authority.

For food insecurity, a community food systems coordinator will collaborate with partners to develop a support network including the provision of resources and guidance to local communities, to conduct food assessments and to identify priority food-related projects. 

A digital literacy and skills agent will interact with the public through the delivery of skill-building programs and provide broadband access information and resources to increase the adoption and utilization of digital resources in Randolph County. 

Special efforts will be made to reach those most impacted by the pandemic and also underserved populations in the community.

Due to the pandemic, the Tourism Development Authority had to reduce its full-time staff from six to two employees and reduce its budget by $400,000. 

The return of the $400,000 would allow the agency to return to its original staffed positions.

Sewer line near Sophia

Commissioners voted for funds to allow The Wooten Company to design a sewer line from Asheboro to a planned industrial site at I-74 and Wall Brothers Road near Sophia. Wooten, which is familiar with Randolph County water issues, was chosen from three bids on the project. The $540,450 will come from Coronavirus Recovery Grant funds.

Broadband grant sought

Commissioners agreed to partner with Randolph Communications to apply for a grant to expand broadband services to rural areas.

The competitive grant is administered through NC GREAT that provides funding opportunities for private sector broadband providers to deploy broadband infrastructure to unserved areas. If granted, total cost of the proposed project would be $3,811,102. 

Randolph Communications is asking that the county provide a 15 percent match up to $300,000, with 100 percent of that coming from ARPA Funds. Randolph Communications will provide a 15 percent match of the same amount. 

Renovations adjustment

Commissioners approved $9,500 to cover additional costs associated with renovations to the Randolph County Courthouse. The total cost of the project is $236,729 and will come from the county’s fund balance.

Northgate Commons project

Commissioners decided to allow the bidding process to go forward for renovations at Northgate Commons. According to Paxton Arthurs, county engineer, the lease of Rent-A-Center will expire at the end of March, leaving 7,348 square feet of space that will be renovated into 37 offices, a meeting room, breakroom and restrooms for the Department of Social Services.

Smith Sinnett Architecture is doing the designs and has estimated construction costs at $1.5 million.

New RCSO vehicles OK’d

Commissioners voted to approve the purchase by the Sheriff’s Office of 10 Dodge Chargers and six Dodge Durangos for a total cost of $493,458. Funding for these purchases was included in the Sheriff’s 2021-22 budget. Purchase is being made through the North Carolina Sheriffs Association’s Procurement Program, which can create one statewide bid through Ilderton Dodge of High Point.

Change in fire districts

Commissioners voted to begin the realignment of fire districts in the county into county service districts which are not capped at the 15-cent fire tax. 

The commissioners agreed to hold public hearings at 6 p.m. on May 2 for the Climax, Franklinville, Guil-Rand and Westside fire departments.