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Granville board votes to approve $350K school paving project

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OXFORD — While the Granville County Board of Commissioners’ post-Labor Day regular meeting on Tuesday was filled with the usual consent items, presentations, and appointments to be approved or deferred, there was one notable item considered which was not on the agenda.

The board approved using $350,000 from the county school district’s HVAC funds to cover increased costs of a recently completed paving project for Stovall-Shaw Elementary. The item was brought up during the board members’ presentation portion of the meeting by Commissioner Tim Karan. Karan, who is the board liaison of school administrators with Commissioner Tony Cozart, said the request came from the school district.

“I would be amenable to releasing some of those air conditioning/HVAC funds to cover some of the difference of what the original intent of that project was to what the full price became due to the increased price of things like concrete and asphalt,” Karan said.

Karan cited figures from County Manager Michael Felts that, in addition to the $7 million already spent on HVAC repairs, $350,000-$400,000 from the fund could be classified as “unencumbered,” meaning those could be released without impeding any remaining HVAC projects or needs.

Felts also said that the school requested release of the funds to keep up with smaller projects already budgeted in the district’s capital outlay funding.

The fund discussed was initially passed as part of a $15 million package in 2017 to the school district to cover costs toward HVAC repair and replacement ($10 million) as well as roofing needs ($5 million) following widespread mold issues that forced the postponement of opening Butner-Stem and Creedmoor elementary schools that year, as well as a re-evaluation of other school properties for mold and air issues. Several roofing repair projects are still in the bidding phase with estimates to come in the fall and repairs to take place next summer.

Board Chairman Zelodis Jay was the lone dissenter in the 5-1 final vote, citing concerns for any unfinished projects earmarked for HVAC or roofing that may require the funds in question.

“If we have finished the air conditioning and we don’t know how much it’s going to cost us in roofing until they finish the whole project, I might be knocking on your door asking to give us that money to finish the project.”

Other concerns cited included uncertainty over future state funding to the school district which could replace the funds approved for the paving project.

After a brief public hearing, the board approved the county’s economic development staff to continue assessing an opportunity to submit a Community Development Block Grant for Strong Arm Baking, also known as Project Cookie. The grant request would be for up to $300,000 in building reuse funds to assist in the renovation of a 9,000-square-foot plot located at 117 Main St. in downtown Oxford that Strong Arm Baking has purchased. The company will invest $485,000 in renovations, equipment, project planning and administration.

The next meeting of the Granville County Board of Commissioners is scheduled for Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. at the Granville County Expo and Convention Center, 4185 U.S. Highway 15 S., Oxford.

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